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What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the learning-lessons dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Many believe Apple's iWatch will marry the looks of a luxury wristwatch with the powerful sensors found in today's fitness wristbands, and, of course, familiar elements from the iPhone and iPad shrunken down and reconfigured to work from your wrist. Apple is undoubtedly full of its own ideas. But it would also benefit from looking at the progenitor of the modern smartwatch—or rather, its steely successor—both as inspiration and as a model to surpass."
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What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

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  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @04:52PM (#46616521)

    Anyone knows if Pebble sells their e-ink displays to hobbyists?

    • Re:e-ink display (Score:5, Informative)

      by xlsior (524145) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:00PM (#46616563) Homepage
      Unlike their initial announcements, the Pebble doesn't actually use an actual e-ink display -- it's a 1.26 inch Sharp Memory LCD, also used by several other devices. http://www.sharpmemorylcd.com/... [sharpmemorylcd.com]
    • Outside of just-the-displays off of aliexpress or so, I think this may be the only reasonable e-ink option for hobbyists out there right now:
      http://www.embeddedartists.com... [embeddedartists.com]

      Which is a shame. I realize the market for e-ink displays is way bigger for retail (and I don't really mean retail products - I mean products for retail, such as OTA-updatable price indicators) than for hobbyists, but for many other electronics segments you can usually find a decent hobby-level offering as well.

      2.7" might be a bit too

  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @04:52PM (#46616523)

    Nothing. Pebble clearly copied the iWatch and violates several of Apple's patents. :)

    • How a released product can violate the patents of a rumor.
      • Um, yes, it could. I have no idea if they actually do violate patents, or if Apple has any patents w.r.t. this area, but Apple certainly could have submitted a number of patents, without having an actual product [ever], that may or may not have even been available for Pebble to view to check if they have infringed it or not [as not all patents are public immediately after being submitted to the patent office]. They still would be liable for infringement from the date Apple submitted it, assuming the paten

  • What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

    You mean like, the entire idea of a bluetooth watch connected to your cellphone? I find it the hight of irony that Apple would be so blatant in their copying of hardware and calling it "inspiration" given their attitude towards any one who even makes icons a similar shape to theirs. Also ironic, the shackle like feel of apple hardware clamped to your wrist.

    • I find it the hight of irony that Apple would be so blatant in their copying of hardware and calling it "inspiration"

      Do you find nothing rather silly about your remark given that Apple is not selling a smart-watch nor has said they are going to?

      I mean, Apple-Haters have kind of ignored reality before, but never have stopped to the depths of complaint that something that doesn't even exist is not innovative.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      .... means stupid ignorant comments.

      #1- Apple is NOT selling anything even remotely similar to the Pebble. The only people talking about a smartwatch (a product in a market that has being DEAD for over 30 years now) are just talent-less bloggers.

      #2- Pebble didn't invent anything new. There were multiple other Bluetooth enabled watch-like devices in the market years before the Pebble was introduced. They were just an over hyped kickstart product. A product that is a failure, not a success.

      • by phorm (591458)

        A product that is a failure, not a success

        How do you figure? I haven't heard of many owners who *don't* like the product, and it seems they're expending sales and the product catalogue (steel edition, etc).

    • What I find sad is that the economy is in a collapsed state, and we're talking about some wrist watch. Yeah, that might save the economy.

      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

        Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I cannot believe I wasted my time reading TFA.

    More than one year before the Pebble there was Metawatch [metawatch.org] (which uses exactly the same display type), and ages before the Pebble there were much, much more advanced "smartwatches".

    • by _anomaly_ (127254)

      More than one year before the Pebble there was Metawatch [metawatch.org] (which uses exactly the same display type), and ages before the Pebble there were much, much more advanced "smartwatches".

      Like the inPulse watch [engadget.com]? You know, made by Allerta, who became Pebble?

  • Not a watch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:22PM (#46616647)

    What's really funny is that Apple is likely not even working on a watch and the rest of you are going to seem rather silly going on at such lengths about something that does not and will not exist.

    • No, they'll just switch to complaining about Apple's failure to deliver on their promise of an iWatch.

    • Ah shut up, hater, and let me watch American Hustle on my revolutionary iTV.
    • by fermion (181285)
      What Apple can learn is to manage expectations. Pebble lost credibility because they promised a lot and then could not deliver. Even now the website has been revamps to encourage orders and development rather then detail what the watch can do for the consumer. For instance, it focuses on Apps that communicate with the pebble, but not what the Pebble can do out of the box. I don't fault Pebble for this. Pebble was crated when Apple had almost all of the market share, but Apple has never played well wit
      • I use to own iPhones, and I never had a problem with using them as a phone. So, I don't really get your comment about them not working well as a phone. They even allowed you to access the browser and other apps while using it as a phone. Plus they had visual voice mail. In short, I completely disagree with your assessment.

      • What Apple can learn is to manage expectations.

        I don't think it's possible for Apple to manage expectations, as primarily expectations are created by the rumor sites. Just look at the comments here as if Apple has already shipped a watch!

        Apple has never played well with third party hardware who tried to do something beyond the scope of what Apple wanted.

        I don't see that as being true though, in recent years Apple has let anyone do anything they want with BTLE and in addition, added a whole notification sy

      • by epine (68316)

        What Apple can learn is to manage expectations. Pebble lost credibility because they promised a lot and then could not deliver.

        I don't agree with this narrative and I never have.

        When your Kickstarter goes viral and you score a 100x multiple on your modest proposal—a proposal which involves custom electronics hardware—you face a monumental problem: having to put a one year warranty on a beta++ prototype you shepherded into mass production with a virgin organization in building mode. You're not e

    • by niw3 (1029008)

      ... Apple is likely not even working on a watch ...

      Their job listings and recent hirings suggest the opposite.

      • by niw3 (1029008)

        ... Apple is likely not even working on a watch ...

        Their job listings and recent hirings suggest the opposite.

        Also, recent patents.

      • No they don't. They indicate that Apple is working on a health tracking device and a wearable device. The closest current product that fits both those categories is the chest-strap heart monitor that people wear whilst doing CV exercises. Not the watch.

        Not that I'm expecting they are working on a chest strap. I just mention it as an indication that wearable computing doesn't mean watch.

        It wouldn't surprise me at all if they are working on a wrist-band with no display. Something that captured data such as pu

        • by anjrober (150253)

          "After all, with current technology an always on LCD display on a wrist watch isn't possible. And without always on, it's at a disadvantage to real watches for telling the time. And any touch UI on a watch small enough to look good would be terrible."

          This is just wrong. I am currently wearing my third Garmin watch. It includes an always on LCD, the UI is very usable and touch sensitive. Not only is it usable sitting around, its even usable at a full out run. I can navigate the UI while running a reasonab

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      They are definitely working on something, otherwise why hire people with relevant skills or acquire companies producing relevant technology? Could be a ruse I suppose, but I don't think Apple is that smart in the post-Jobs era.

      They need something new. If it isn't a watch it will be some kind of wearable device.

  • by Dan East (318230) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:22PM (#46616649) Homepage Journal

    I've said this in the past in regards to Glass, but I feel the watch is the ultimate form factor for wearable electronics. I feel that it should be the core of the mobile computing paradigm, once the technology has matured enough for that kind of miniaturization (mainly battery and WLAN). Then devices like Google Glass, and even the cell phone / tablet form factor, would all just be display and input / sensor peripherals for the core system (the watch). So in other words, I hope Apple gets it right (but most likely they won't - they'll probably go the same route as Samsung and make the device dependent upon an iPhone to do anything non-trivial).

    • Good science fiction generally had watches or something similar. Bad science fiction generally had Google glass.

      Generally, not without exceptions, but generally.
    • I feel the watch is the ultimate form factor for wearable electronics.

      Why though?

      My feeling about the smart watch is pretty much summarized by this image of the ultimate smart watch [twitter.com].

      I think of wearables in two senses - primarily sensor packages and quick but very limited information.

      The watch is not in a great position for either of those things. For one thing it's often covered by sleeves, so the sensors to outside conditions get obscured and any visible notifications get booked too. Yes it can vibrate -

      • I think of wearables in two senses - primarily sensor packages and quick but very limited information.

        The watch is not in a great position for either of those things. For one thing it's often covered by sleeves, so the sensors to outside conditions get obscured and any visible notifications get booked too.

        It's not just about information, but also easy control/input. The watch, even though covered by sleeves sometimes, is in a good position because it's always within eyesight and you don't need a free hand to operate it. It's also much easier to slide your sleeve back with a pinky even than to get the phone out of your pocket.

        • It's not just about information, but also easy control/input.

          I personally think control/input has only a tiny part of the equation, and mostly will not be present in wearables with the exception of a few items with real screens.

          It's also much easier to slide your sleeve back with a pinky even than to get the phone out of your pocket.

          Not that much easier, to the point where I'd rather just get out my phone than have to deal with watches and sleeves ever again.

          • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

            Not that much easier, to the point where I'd rather just get out my phone than have to deal with watches and sleeves ever again.

            Dude, you gotta chillax. You're really tightly wound if you're reacting to sleeves like that.

            • Seems like if you are all freaked out about the .0001 seconds of time a watch saves you vs. pulling out a phone, you are in far greater need of chill time than myself... I'm so chill I'm claiming I don't need something new that doesn't really do anything new for me. How does it get anymore chill than that?

              There's a reason why people abandoned both watches and glasses when they could. It's more chill to keep the technology holstered than strapped on externally at the ready.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        1) Hats - in a great position to measure lots of stuff, and would be just as good as Glass at photo/video work,

        Finally, I can say my Trilby runs Fedora.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The watch form-factor makes sense for a lot of applications. Fitness tracking bracelets are already available and will hopefully get more sophisticated. There are veins running close to the surface of the wrist and there have been attempts to measure blood that way without breaking the skin. The nice thing about bracelets is that they can be robust enough to never take off, even in bed or in the shower.

        I've been using Omron's sleep tracking tech for a while now and it is fantastic. Theirs is not wearable bu

        • The ultimate would be sub-dermal, say on the back of the hand.

          Or a ring... it's also in a great position to measure blood flow and more exposed to the world.

    • Re:Form factor (Score:4, Insightful)

      by knarf (34928) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @06:27PM (#46616985) Homepage

      No, it isn't. There is a reason I never replaced that watch I lost somewhere on a mountain in Switzerland - I always had to take the thing off because it was in the way. From building to logging to working the land on the farm to fixing the tractor to repairing the $random_piece_of_electronics to $insert_random_activity, the first thing I usually did was take of the watch and put it somewhere out of the way, both to save it from grievous harm as well as to save my arm from the results of getting the thing trapped in some piece of machinery.

      Maybe watches work for desk jockeys? In that case it might be the ultimate form factor for *some* of the target group for wearable electronics, but not for everyone.

      The optimal form factor for wearable electronics is a neural implant. Just don't forget the spam filter...

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @07:12PM (#46617239)

        Maybe watches work for desk jockeys?

        I always found the strap was annoying when letting my wrists rest near a keyboard.

        Watches also interfere with your sleeves when wearing a dress shirt.

        Watches were fun for a while when I was young, but I never missed them after I started using my phone as a watch and it would take quite a bit of compelling reasons beyond what I see now to get me to wear a watch again.

        • Maybe watches work for desk jockeys?

          I always found the strap was annoying when letting my wrists rest near a keyboard.

          Watches also interfere with your sleeves when wearing a dress shirt.

          Watches were fun for a while when I was young, but I never missed them after I started using my phone as a watch and it would take quite a bit of compelling reasons beyond what I see now to get me to wear a watch again.

          Well, if you learned to keyboard properly and wore shirts that fit properly you may still be wearing a watch. You're not supposed to rest your wrists on something while typing. It's like playing the piano. Your wrists are supposed to be elevated with you hands flat, parallel to the floor and fingers naturally angling down to the keys. [webmd.com] Dress shirt sleeve cuffs should terminate just behind the opposing joint of the thumb and not constrict around your wrist so jewelry (watches, bracelets) doesn't get caught ea [gq.com]

          • by anerki (169995)

            In regard to dress shirts, you got it all wrong. French shirts or rather, French cuffs are basically folder back cuffs, usually bigger.

            If watches in shirts annoy you, have them tailor made. A decent tailor will take into account if you usually wear a watch or not, and slightly adapt the size of the arm you wear the watch on. It's a general complaint if you often wear shirts.

            Me I stopped wearing watches after hurting my wrist a couple of times (or arm) when accidently hitting something, slamming into somethi

        • I agree with the annoyance part, but I also find that it's far easier to glance at a watch than pull my phone out. While I don't wear this particular [nationalgeographic.com] watch, I wear one like it. An additional benefit is that I can be sitting at a table and glance down at my watch more stealthily than looking at my wrist.

          If Apple sells an iWatch, I hope it has a detachable band so I can swap the watch into a belt clip like the one shown.

      • I wear a wrist watch most of the time. I wear a belt loop watch [google.com] when I think I might bang up a wrist watch.

        Not that I think that form factor is going to light the world on fire, but I find them as convenient and accessible as a wrist watch, and they're not as unabashedly quaint as a pocket watch.

        • I wear a wrist watch most of the time.

          I stopped wearing a watch when I bought a phone that displayed the time. I *think* I still have my old watch in a drawer somewhere, but I can't imagine a reason I'd ever wear one again.

    • The problem with having the watch compete with the phone for "core device" dominance is that the phone will always have more power and/or battery life due to the larger form factor. There's no need to put a heft processor/battery on the wrist when you have a nice big pocket that still goes with you everywhere. A wearable needs to look sleeker as well, which means thinner which means less power/battery. It's just more efficient to make it a thin client (literally) for the phone.
  • Three keys (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:56PM (#46616783)
    There are three keys to a successful smart watch.

    First is that it must focus on doing things that watches can do well. So the time, the date, alarms, etc.

    Second is that it should not try to do anything that a watch is terrible at. Such as no making notes, text messaging, complicated mapping, etc.

    But the last and more important thing is that it do something very phone friendly that way too cool. This would be something like having a navigation system where you enter your destination on some other device or by voice and then the phone shows very simple navigation cues such as vibrate when you should turn and simple arrows and other numbers. A map would just be stupid. The same with almost every other app. They must be extra simple. Focus on the quick check of the wrist vs any input.

    This is very important. Data basically can not be input into this tiny device. It must be for quick data consumption only. The rule should be that if the data needs more than a glance then it shouldn't be coming from the watch.

    Personally, at this point, I can't see the watch being much use as a stand alone device. It needs to be tied to a phone. But as batteries and electronics get better then an LTE version might be feasible. One of the most important things is that this thing not be a big bulky hassle.

    One last ask of Apple; please don't put that stupid carousel interface in.

    I will be curious how one will go about buying things for the watch. It almost certainly will have to be on a separate device. But maybe you could tell iCloud what you want sent to the watch and then it will go. But if it is paired to a device that must accompany it then it will be easy.
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Hell man, when I was a geeky middle-schooler I had a calculator watch with over a dozen buttons on a watch face no larger than many decorative analog watches, and it worked great. My own list would be:

      - It must work stand-alone: if I'm lugging my phone around with me why would I want a miniscule third-rate smart-watch? A Pip-boy maybe, but not some little watch-sized thing. As a smartphone accessory there's just not much point, except maybe to check who's calling/texting you without pulling out your pho

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Please don't ever design a smart watch.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        - It must work stand-alone: if I'm lugging my phone around with me why would I want a miniscule third-rate smart-watch?

        If you're "lugging" your phone around you probably need to update your phone.

        As a smartphone accessory there's just not much point, except maybe to check who's calling/texting you without pulling out your phone.

        or calendar notifications, reminders, weather forecast, transport notifications, etc... Personally I don't find my phone as cumbersome to carry around as you do so I don't mind just pulling out my phone to look at the lock screen to see those things but I'm sure some people would see value in having that information on their wrist even if it does provide questionable benefit.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          It must work stand-alone: if I'm lugging my phone around with me why would I want a miniscule third-rate smart-watch?

          If you're "lugging" your phone around you probably need to update your phone.

          Sorry, wrong. Modern phones are pretty damn big, which is probably why smartwatches exist to begin with.

          People want big screens, but then they try to use them and realize that they're completely impractical for anything other than a mobile entertainment device. As a mobile communications device, unless you're sittin

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            Sorry, wrong. Modern phones are pretty damn big, which is probably why smartwatches exist to begin with.

            Really? Perhaps you need to get to the gym if simply carrying your phone is that laborious for you, modern phones are not that much of an effort to carry around that anybody would refer to them as having to "lug" them around, my suitcase or my workstation laptop maybe but not my phone.

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

      +1 insightful. What would you think of siri as a watch input? Not unwieldy like text. But you could give instructions or send messages with it. Assume ideal siri, rather than criticizing current flaws.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        I wouldn't rule out transcription. I find the automated speech transcription on my corporate voicemail very useful. The accuracy still isn't high, but I can usually get the gist of the message so I don't have to listen to it. I am so absent-minded that "note to self" would be really welcome.
      • I am impressed with Siri, When "What is the second derrivative of two x to the fifth." gives you a correct answer then coooool.

        If you keep your questions within a sensible domain then the range of useful answers is pretty good. The watch could have much more of the same.
    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      They key is always going to be the software.

      The way it might work in practice is you'll have "screens" that you can swipe between. The screens can be thought of as a list of information items listed in order of descending importance that you can swipe through The usefulness of this will depend entirely on the ability of the software to rank information by importance, which will be extremely dependent on the nature of the information and the current context that you're in. The problem of filtering and sortin

    • Data basically can not be input into this tiny device. It must be for quick data consumption only. The rule should be that if the data needs more than a glance then it shouldn't be coming from the watch.

      I'm not sure I agree with either of these points. It's true "data entry" in general would be cumbersome, but what about simple controls? I think there's a middle ground between "data consumption only" and "massive data entry". Also, the screen may be small but text can be scrollable like with any other screen. Why pull out my phone to read an email when I can just scroll through a few pages on the watch?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Voice input solves most of the input issues for smart watches. For making a quick note, setting up a calendar event or sending a simple response to a text message it already works really well in a noisy car environment with hands-free.

    • by Drethon (1445051)
      And yet they try to make tablet computers do everything a PC does (or at least claim the tablet is taking over from PCs).
  • Stand alone smartwatch without requiring a mobile phone!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...That the iWatch is really a big project by Apple to make their competitors waste their money....

  • The one thing which the iWatch must have is the ability to function *on it's own*. If it 'needs' to be paired up with an iPhone in order to be useful, it's completely dead in the water and useless.

    The iWatch should be simple: display time, date, fitness apps and music. It shouldn't need to be fed data from an iPhone to look at messages or texts.

    It should also have a headphone jack, it shouldn't rely on bluetooth audio.

  • ... not yet convinced Apple is even going to be selling a watch?
  • Apple's lawyers are learning from Bam Bam

  • Windows Phone [youtube.com]

    Palm [brighthand.com]

    What other [typepad.com] people [mattmaroon.com] think.
  • If the Moto 360 is halfway as capable and slick-looking as has been shown thus far, any iWatch is going to have trouble keeping up.

    The 360 is the first smart watch that I would not be embarrassed wearing at a client meeting or in the boardroom. With the full OLED screen, customize-able bands (metallic and non-metalic, black, silver, colored...), Moto has a winner with this product.

  • iWatch, right? Seriously, tell me with a straight face that "iWatch" isn't the funniest thing ever? We're going to start wearing things on our wrists that track us all day from geolocation to personal preferences? Can we cut to the chase and get to to the iCollar already or is that too soon?
  • by jpellino (202698) on Monday March 31, 2014 @10:07AM (#46620795)

    To keep you connected to that company's other things. Let's face it - a smartwatch is way too small to actually do any useful work on - heck, most smartphones are a poor excuse for a full screen experience, productive work, etc. They mostly guide you to where you do the actual work. The smartwatch will be the next link further up that chain - to point you to the phone. Companies want you to have that thing on your wrist tie you to the rest of their product line. No surprise there. The only thing that may be attractive to people is that you don't need to keep looking at your phone, you just need to keep looking at your watch - which is still just about as offensive.

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