Wearable tech like the Pebble Watch or Apple watch are not new pieces of technology that are meant to replace or your phone or tablet.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since Apple started shipping their brand new product the Apple Watch. No, it’s not the iWatch. That’s a dumb name. Even Apple knows when to stop putting a lower case ‘i’ in front of every product. The Apple Watch is the first product that people are really paying attention to in the wearable technology field. Google tried to capture our imaginations with some magic glasses that constantly scan everything you see like the Terminator and help you to make phone calls and video chats while walking down the sidewalk or crossing a busy city street. Unfortunately the fabled Google Glass doesn’t seem to be quite ready for prime time and was only ever available to a chosen few “testers” who were willing to shell out $2000 and look like total douches in public.
So Google Glass didn’t get our attention but the Apple Watch sure did, right? I mean, it’s beautiful. That’s what Apple does so well. They make things that look so sleek and pretty that make you say, “yes I will pay a minimum $450 for a watch”. But it’s not really just a watch that tells time. The whole idea behind wearable tech is that these devices are meant to be an extension of your phones- because your phones aren’t just phones, they’re tiny supercomputers that you carry around with you everywhere. So while Apple Watch users have been spending the last couple weeks getting used to their devices and the vast powers they wield, I’ve been testing another option in the wearable tech field for the last year. It’s called the Pebble Watch.
The Pebble Watch is just like the Apple Watch, if it were made in the same factory that also produces old Nintendo systems. It is a low tech but highly effective option in the new area of wearable tech. There is a newer Pebble out that has a colour display but mine is the original version and it is a monochrome e-paper display that you would also find in a Kindle or Kobo eReader. It makes reading your messages in the daylight very easy with no glare. The Pebble is all about your notifications. Whatever notification that is normally sent to your phone can also be displayed on your Pebble. So that means your texts, emails, meetings, tweets, Facebook likes, pretty much anything. You’re alerted when your watch vibrates on your wrist and then you can just glance at the notification and move on. The message will disappear after a few seconds and go back to the normal watch face. It’s simple, easy to use, cheap, and a great introductory look at the world of wearable tech.
Here are some of the things owners of an Apple Watch will learn about wearable tech in the next few months:
- You will spend less time on your phone (if you want to). The Apple Watch and the Pebble both send your notifications to your wrist and you can pick and choose what notifications you wish to receive on your watch. This means that “phantom pocket vibration” is no longer a problem so you won’t be constantly taking your phone out of your pocket to see if you missed a message or an email.
- You will spend less time on your watch. Many people think that Apple Watch users will become insufferable little gadget heads who will make sure that everyone in the room knows what they are wearing on their wrist. This really won’t be the case. I think it’s because that the wristwatch has become something that, although fewer people wear watches these days, when we see someone wearing a watch it doesn’t stick out. Trust me, the social faux pas of glancing at your watch while someone is talking still seems about ten times more discrete than taking a look at your phone while someone is talking.
- It makes your phone battery last longer. Because the Bluetooth technology that allows the two devices to communicate is getting more and more efficient each day, your phone’s battery will seem to last longer when you’re using a smart watch because you won’t constantly be checking it and opening up apps every two seconds. It’s also a huge bonus that the Pebble Watch’s battery lasts for about 7 days so battery life anxiety can be something you deal with less often.
- Receive texts while you shower! Yes you can finally see who is texting you while you shower. My Pebble watch is water resistant up to 50m and I never take it off while I shower. It’s kind of neat and since my Pebble only cost $99 I don’t have too much anxiety about it. You can probably take the Apple Watch in the shower with you too but would you really want to risk it with a $500 device?
- Apps apps and more apps! Whether it’s a Pebble, Android, or Apple Watch there are thousands of apps out there and being developed that will help you harness the power of your wearable tech in a way that is easy and quick. Whether you’re tracking your fitness habits or paying for a coffee or checking-in to your flight, wearable tech is making it easier and easier for you.
- Options. You may not want to drop $500 minimum on a fancy new Apple Watch but it’s good to know there are options out there like the Pebble and it’s new offering the Pebble Time with a pretty but equally low tech colour screen and microphone for voice memos for roughly half the price of a bottom end Apple Watch.
The bottom line is that wearable tech like the Pebble Watch or Apple watch are not new pieces of technology that are meant to replace or your phone or tablet. These are tools to help you realize the full potential of the technology you use everyday.
Jason Lee Norman
Jason Lee Norman is a writer with a beard. He is the 2014 Writer in Residence at the Edmonton Public Library. He is obsessed with keeping his iPhone over 75% charged.
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