Pebble Time smartwatch adds color and a microphone – and returns to Kickstarter

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Pebble Time, which will be available in three colors, is the sequel to the original Pebble

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Though Pebble has since become one of the most popular smartwatches around, the product began on Kickstarter. So, instead of holding an Apple-like press event for its latest watch, complete with presenters, intro videos and superlatives (which it could have easily done), the company is returning to its crowdfunding roots. Meet Pebble Time.

As you can see, Pebble Time is the sequel to the original (entry-level, plastic) Pebble, not the more jewelry-like Pebble Steel. And, rather than trying to make an Apple Watch clone or yet another Android Wear timepiece, Pebble is keeping what made the original a success – simplicity, long battery life and those crowdfunding roots – while upgrading it for a much more competitive 2015 wearable environment.

Those upgrades include, for the first time in a Pebble, a color display (still e-paper, and still not a touchscreen, but no longer black & white). It also adds a microphone, for dictating voice replies or creating voice memos, and is 20 percent thinner than the original. The company does, however, note that, when paired with an iPhone, Pebble Time is currently limited to Gmail replies for voice response (though the company is working on adding support for more apps). Android users should be able to use voice to reply in most of the major messaging and email apps.

Pebble Time maintains the original's 7 days of battery life and water resistance. The announcement doesn't specify Pebble Time's water resistance rating, but the original and Steel were both 5 ATM.

Perhaps the biggest upgrade, though, is Pebble's new Timeline software. Similar to Android Wear, it uses a timeline in place of apps as the primary interface. But it moves a step farther than Wear: while Google's wearable OS shows your most recent alerts as cards, Pebble's new OS lets you scroll into the past or the future. So scroll down and you'll see your upcoming appointments or reminders, scroll up to see your recent emails or other notifications.

We haven't gotten our mitts on the new Pebble yet, but the Timeline sounds like a smart and simple approach to wearable software: presenting the info you need in an intuitive manner, without relying too much on a smartphone-like, app-driven experience.

Pebble Time will ship first to Kickstarter backers, who can pledge to back the product right now. US$159 is the minimum pledge to snag an early one (though those may be scooped up by the time you read this), with more slots open in the $179 range. The watch will eventually retail for $200, and is scheduled to start shipping to backers this May.

In its first half hour, the project has already received 180 percent of its minimum $500,000 goal (update: five and a half hours after launch, the project has raised over $5.5 million in pledges!).

You can find out more in the pitch video below.

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