Good news for those of you out there who backed Pebble‘s bluetooth-enabled smartwatch towards the end of last year. The company announced at its first-ever presser held at CES tonight, that the smartwatch will begin shipping to all 65,000 of the project’s committed backers – January 23.
The company announced that Pebble, (which some of you will be pleased to know has officially entered mass-production as of this week), will be produced in batches of 15,000 units per week, and the firm expects to have all Kickstarter preorders delivered within 6-8 weeks from today.
The news arrives after the project’s original backers have waited patiently for the company to provide an exact update as to the shipping timeframe it was planning to adopt for the delivery of the watch, worldwide, which originally had an estimated shipping date of September 2012.
Showing the Pebble off in its fully glory at the media event, however, Pebble CEO, Eric Migicovsky, noted that the company believes the near to 3.5-month delay the project saw will be “worth it in the long run,” due to the extra “future-proofing” the company has been able to achieve with the product during this time period.
The Key Takeaways
- Pebble begins shipping to Kickstarter backers, January 23
- Pebble have developed a magnetic charging cable that attaches to the watch in a similar fashion to how Apple’s “MagSafe” connector does.
- The smartwatch features Bluetooth 2.1 technology for connection with iOS and Android devices, (with Bluetooth 4.0 built-in, for activation via a OTA software update at a later date)
- The watch also features a Magnetometer – (which isn’t active yet, but will be activated through an over-the-air software update sometime in the future)
- Pebble have licensed the Bluetooth stack they are using to connect to iOS and Android, with Migicovsky adding that the watch has been “specifically built for [future] expansion.”
- Pebble features Ambient light sensors – “Your Pebble watch will be able to understand how much light is available in its current environment,” the company explains in its written announcement>.
- Pebble uses Apple’s ‘Bluetooth MAP Profile’ introduced with iOS 6.
- The smartwatch works with Apple’s iPhone 3GS (or later) requiring iOS 5 (or later). For Android you’ll need a device running 2.3.3 (or higher).
Support for notifications via third-party Android apps will be available at launch. Pebble explains that it found a way to get a third-party Android app to send a notification to its own app on the platform, and then forward this to the smartwatch itself — (the delay in the transfer of this data appeared non-existent, going off the company’s on-stage demo).
The company notes that iOS app notification support, though, is not yet ready for prime-time. This fact doesn’t, however, affect Pebble’s ability to receive both iMessage and SMS alerts, which the firm showed off as fully working.
IFTTT support was also shown of as fully working at the event, although the company highlighted that the alerts from the service to eventually be received by the Pebble were to remain “e-mail” based for the time being, with the end goal being to provide a “Push Notification”-style system for iOS users looking to receive these types of alerts via other data transfer methods.
In addition to the above, the company has also announced it will be gradually rolling out a “Connect to Pebble” sign-in service. Similar to Facebook’s login button, the system will allow third-party developers to offer the option for their users to sign-in using their “Pebble” account. This, it says, uses the OAuth 2.0 protocol and will be live in the space of “weeks.”
Perhaps the coolest visual note related to the watch’s internals. During the on-stage demo of Pebble, Migicovsky showed how a user can simply tap Pebble’s front bezel to turn on its built-in backlight. This, he said, was controlled via the built-in accelerometer which is also present in Pebble.
(Note: Shaking your wrist also works in this regard.)
As for how shipping of the product will be handled in the coming weeks, the company said it would begin shipping the watches out to Kickstarter backers in the exact order they first pledged their support to the project. Pebble also confirmed it will continue to post updates on upcoming software features on its official Kickstarter page.
Runkeeper support is coming “in a month or two.”
After the demos of the product itself, Migicovsky opened the floor to questions from both journalists present in the room, and those online. Here’s a list of generalized (shortened) responses from the company to those questions.
Q: How will using Pebble affect battery life?
A: Migicovsky said the Pebble connects to your smartphone ‘constantly’ and so it will affect the device’s overall battery life. Although, he says, this will likely only be between 5-10% per day.
Q: Will SMS Work With iPhone?
A: Yes, Pebble works great on iPhone. Displays SMS and iMessage.
Q: When will IFTTT support work on iOS?
A: Right now, it’s an e-mail endpoint. End goal: Push notifications … (Estimated timescale: next month, or so.)
Q: Broader app support?
A: Immense interest from developers. We wanted to nail the core experience first, right out of the box, before moving onto tackling the larger app eco-system. We’ll move on from there.
Q: Who will you be shipping to first?
A: We’ll be shipping Pebbles out in the order in which people backed Pebble. If you were there Day One, you’ll be right at the beginning of the list.
Q: Most interesting use case?
A: I change timezones quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to having a couple of different watchfaces that support people who travel a lot.
Q: Once you complete distribution to your backers, what’s your plan for retail?
A: Our work is cut out for us right now. 85,000 watches to ship, and preorders via the website getpebble.com. We’ll be dealing with those first.
Q: Future innovations on Pebble from software, or hardware?
A: We can’t really push an over-the-air hardware update, so new features will come via software.
Q: Can you talk about delays you’ve experienced and advice for others on Kickstarter?
A: “InPulse” was made in our garage. With Pebble, on day one it kinda’ exploded. We decided to take a different route than we had originally planned on for manufacturing. We were expecting 1,000-2,000. When it exploded on day one, we shifted gears. Large quantities, overseas. It definitely took longer than we anticipated.
What part of Pebble’s design are you most proud of?
A: I’m still quite proud we were able to meet our original design goals … and the backlight (as close second).
A: We’re planning a few other [on-screen] font variants alongside the two we have now.