Pebble, the smartwatch startup which started the wearable wrist revolution a couple of years back with its KickStarter campaign, has recently revised the prices of all of its models, bringing the price of the entry-level Pebble down to $99 and the premium Pebble Steel to $199. Along with the decrease in price, the startup has also improved upon the fleet of fitness-related features introduced to the watches in an update earlier this year.
The Pebble smartwatch and Pebble Steel had aspirations to track fitness, but were never able to do background tracking — an essential feature for counting steps. That’s changed now: Pebble’s latest software release adds true background fitness tracking capabilities, while partnerships with Jawbone and Misfit have resulted in new apps that work on the Pebble to run continuously and track steps and sleep, just like an everyday fitness tracker.
Fitness bands have been selling alongside the likes of the Pebble for a while now, but as Apple and Google have demonstrated, smartwatches can comfortably include most of the exercise-related features as standard. The new Pebble update sees both regular and Steel versions of the Pebble track steps and sleep-related data in the background, eliminating that tedious rigmarole of having to leave the Misfit app open for step-counting.
Different fitness apps are free to use their own algorithms to interpret the data: or, as Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble, explained during a phone call to CNET, some are even working to develop non-fitness apps, like one to track epileptic seizures while sleeping. The Pebble will be able to track fitness (or use its compass) while offline and unpaired with a phone, holding up to 140 days of data without syncing. But the initial apps won’t sync with phone apps yet: that feature will be coming soon.
Along with the new features and price drop, Pebble is also expanding the reach of its smartwatch, with Fry’s, Sam’s Club, and Sprint in the U.S. joining Dixons, O2, and Amazon in the UK to begin retailing the device today onwards.
All these moves by the startup seem to point to the fact that they feel threatened by the entry of the big names like Apple, Motorola and LG with their state of the art looking smartwatches like the round Moto 360 or the svelte Apple Watch…
What do you think of these changes made by Pebble? Let us know by sounding off in the comments!