The 'next big thing' might not be next anymore
The cover story on today's tbt* was Troy Wolverton's piece from the San Jose Mercury News (The next big thing?, July 25, 2013) about smart watches.
The article didn't cover a whole lot of new ground — you'll trip over another smart watch rumor anywhere you go on the Internet — but I thought it covered the basics fairly well.
I know the Pebble smart watch pretty well — I've worn mine almost every day since I (and about a gazillion other early adopters) backed the project on Kickstarter — and I'd already have a hard time doing without it. Beyond the basics — getting Caller ID, SMS and email alerts without having to dig my phone out of my pocket — I've set mine up to show current weather conditions for wherever I happen to be.
With a little patience (remember that "early adopter" part?) I can also have it working for long stretches where it shows me score alerts for my favorite sports teams, breaking news bulletins from my favorite news apps, weather warnings, my friends' Facebook updates and warn me whenever my daughter posts something new to Instagram.
I've even found getting alerts like those on my wrist reduces the temptation to look down at my phone while I'm driving. ("What was that bing for? Ah, Facebook — that can wait.")
Third-party app developers continue to roll out new tools for the Pebble. Two of the most prominent being RunKeeper, which displays workout stats on the watch while you're exercising, and FreeCaddie, which can put a distance-to-the-pin golf GPS display on your wrist.
Admittedly, I was so late to the cellphone game that I never gave up wearing a … well, dumb watch, I guess. One of the main doubts expressed by smart watch skeptics is that it might be hard to convince folks who gave up wearing a watch when they started carrying cellphones to start wearing one again. I didn't take any convincing. I never really understood the idea that it'd be silly to wear something on your wrist to avoid having to pull something out of your pocket. Isn't that why people jumped at the chance to dump their pocket watches way back when?
It's important to note, too, that the Pebble and other smart watches on the market now are accessories for your phone, not a replacement. They connect to your iPhone or Android handset via Bluetooth, and piggyback on its data connection. On their own, they're not much different from a watch that shows Mickey's hands on the four and the 12.
One nit to pick, tho': In the version of the article picked up by tbt* Wolverton says the Pebble is available for preorder on the company's website. In fact, they've been spotted at a few bay area Best Buy stores, too — but supplies are short, and you'll have to be patient if you hope to get your hands on one there.