The smartwatch space is heating up. With Google Android Wear unveiled just last month and Pebble selling more than 250,000 units, smartwatches have been gaining quite a bit of traction. Although not yet considered an “essential tech,” PC Magazine estimates that nearly half of Americans are interested in owning wearable technology. We drew up a quick comparison to investigate exactly how these smartwatches stack up. We compared two of the hottest smartwatches: today’s Pebble with tomorrow’s Moto 360. Here’s what we found:
The Pebble Smart Watch
Forbes recently cited data suggesting that the Pebble smartwatch, which sold 400,000 units in 2013, has the biggest sticky power of the first batch of consumer smartwatches. Polar found that while only 26% of respondents are using Nike Fuelbands and 36% are using Jawbone Ups, a resounding 75% are using Pebble smart watches.
Pebble has a multi-year lead on Android Wear– the Kickstarter has been experimenting with wearables for over six years now, and previously developed the Allerta inPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry devices. Although the Pebble is still more for the curious geek than for the everyday consumer, its growing collection of third-party apps separates the Pebble from other competitors. Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of Pebble.
One of Pebble’s best selling points. The Pebble smartwatch lets you read texts and notifications on the go, directly from your wrist. This feature eliminates the need of having to reach for your mobile every time it vibrates and gives you the option of either glancing the notification or responding to it.
A year after it started shipping to its Kickstarter backers, the startup cut the ribbon on Pebble’s very own app store. As of February 2014, its app store had over 1,000 appsWaterproof: Users don’t have to worry about removing their Pebble at the pool, in the shower, or at the beach.
Pebble runs for 5-7 days before needing a re-charge
Although the Pebble’s display may not be the sharpest- it certainly gets the job done. You can read your Pebble in direct sunlight, which is an important feature for a wearable.
Featured partners include Yelp, Foursquare, GoPro and ESPN, which all boast rather decently polished Pebble apps
Remote Camera Shutter
Pebble allows you to remotely access your mobile camera functionality. The Camera Shutter app allows remote capture of photos and provides instant review of captured photos from the Pebble smartwatch.
Shake to Get Yelp Recommendations
When you need a quick pick for a restaurant or bar, simply open the Yelp Pebble app and shake your arm for a nearby location.
Check into a Foursquare Location
Users can seamlessly check in to location via Foursquare.
Check Sports Scores
For avid sports fans, the ESPN Pebble app might be the most tempting reason to buy a Pebble smartwatch. The smartwatch display provides quick scores for NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA Football or NCAA.
Send Text From Your Watch
You can also send pre-written texts—such as “On my way!” or ” I’ll call you later”— directly from the watch.
Apps like Pebble GPS & Map can geo-locate you via your phone’s GPS and provide guided directions to your location.
Monitor Your Health
A scan of the store reveals numerous options for monitoring steps, sleep patterns, calories burned and more, thanks to apps like Runtastic, Let’s Muv and many others.
Control Your House
Pebble has joined forces with iControl, maker of the smart home technology. It wouldn’t be long before your Pebble will unlock doors and turn on lights in connected domiciles.
The Moto 360
Last month, Google revealed Android Wear- an OS for smartwatches. The Moto 360 is the first smartwatch in the Android Wear age and is said to be a part of a fashion ecosystem. Google has strategically chosen to leave hardware to the people that know it, putting its most valuable feature at the forefront—Google Now.
This feature might push the smartwatches beyond the territory of the tech-curious and make these smartwatches genuinely useful for everyone. Predictive and personalized algorithms that power Google Now on Android phones might be the holy grail of wearable devices. With the limited real estate on a watch, knowing what app, service, prompt or data point a person needs at a specific moment becomes paramount in the smartwatch game.
Context cards have been an ever-improving service from Google Gizmodo reports: Heading to the office? Your watch tells you what traffic’s like. Favorite football team headed into overtime? Your watch feeds you scoring updates. All without ever having to ask.
The round-faced smart watch will have interchangeable bands and work with any smartphone running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or higher. It will also have replaceable backs
Moto 360’s lead designer, Jim Wicks, Motorola revealed that the watch does not have any charging contacts. Speculates that Solar and kinetic (movement) charging methods are sometimes included on watches, and Motorola could incorporate those kinds of designs into the Moto 360.
Motorola says they have omitted a camera from the Moto 360
Motorola will release the Moto 360 watch at an undisclosed date sometime “this summer.”
Two Core Functions
The Android Wear UI is based on: “suggest” and “demand.” Suggest is the term Google uses for all the notification cards that make up the watch’s “context stream.” These could include urgent notifications, like text messages, that buzz your wrist when they come in, or morsels of data that get silently added to your stack, like scores of sports games. The other part of the Android Wear interface is “demand,” encompassing something Google refers to as the “Cue Card.”
List of Commands
From the look of things, it seems like these will include a preset list of actions for calling cabs, taking notes, sending messages, setting alarms and the like.
Power to the User
Here’s an important bit: Google’s developer documents state that users will be able to choose which app corresponds to these demands. Presumably you could pick whether saying “call me a cab” triggers Uber, say, or Lyft.
Monitor your health
Google says”real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.”
Google Maps is expected to be built in so that you’ll be able to get directions directly from your wrist.
You’ll also be able to say “OK Google” to perform voice searches, à la Google Now.
A microphone hole is placed on the left side of the watch. It is likely that users will be able to field calls and give voice commands
Research firm Strategy Analytics projects global smartwatch sales to grow as much as 500% this year alone-indicating that this niche market will likely see a rapid increase in users. It is however, imperative that smartwatches adopt features that make sense within specific context. Executive Creator Director at Frog, reiterates this point “Android Wear signals a move to contextually-driven simplicity over the ‘maximalist,’ computer-on-your-wrist approach of watches like the Galaxy Gear.” Implementing features that align with specific use cases will ultimately determine the adoption of a smartwatch product and see explosive growth in the wearable tech industry.
Sources: Forbes, Cnet, Gizmodo, PC Magazine, The Verge, Wired, MacRumors, Google Blog, Meedia Register