This morning we told you that 2014 would be the year of the smartwatch. Now Pebble has basically guaranteed it.
As expected, the company’s major CES announcement unveiled a Pebble app store, as well as presenting a new, high-end model of its smartwatch. The original will still be sold, but Pebble Steel represents a more classic wrist-wear option.
Retailing at $249, Pebble Steel looks sleek, well crafted, and less unapologetically futuristic than the original. It’s also more durable, with a new Gorilla Glass screen. “We’re all about meshing with your everyday life,” founder Eric Migicovsky said in an interview with The Verge. It’s a point he think other smartwatch makers are missing. With the new design, Migicovsky is unlocking a whole new user base—tech savvy folks who don’t feel like wearing plastic badges of connectivity on their wrists. It might not satisfy everyone, but it’s a solid compromise between wearing a smartwatch and wearing a stylish one.
But that idea—that a smartwatch can meld seamlessly with your life, instead of replacing your phone or being a cumbersome toy—has a lot to do with the new app store, too. Migicovsky says it’s the first centralized location for apps designed for wearables, and that users will be able to download them directly from their cellphones.
Migicovsky wants apps that make his product a ubiquitous smartphone accessory. So far, those include a Yelp app that allows you to check for nearby restaurants, an ESPN app that delivers live score updates, and an app for controlling the GoPro, a camera beloved of those who love to document their extreme-sports exploits. Stop digging into your pocket every time you need to do something your phone does, the Pebble app store says. Just look at your wrist.
The app store, which was announced to developers in mid-December, will allow Pebble to live up to its full potential. According to Migicovsky, that amounts to “becoming contextually the most appropriate tool for whatever you’re doing, whenever you’re doing it.” A lofty goal, but with developers standing to make bank on Pebble-specific apps, one that stands a chance of being realized.