Moto-360-AH-1

Wear Weekly: What Android Can Learn from the Pebble Time

July 10, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

Android Wear has been around for a year this Summer, and there are now more models available than ever before and a better selection of Android Wear watch faces and apps. However, before Android Wear there was the Pebble, and the Pebble Steel. Both excellent devices that offered some of the core functionality that we expected from such devices with some of the best battery life and value-for-money around. Now, the Pebble Time is here, and they’ve done a number of things to make the platform better on the whole. So, what’s better, and what can Android Wear learn from the Pebble Time?

Battery Life

I’m a Moto 360 owner, and while I’m generally pretty happy with it on the whole, I think we can all agree that battery life is not good. This isn’t just a Moto 360 problem of course, as this happens on all Android Wear devices, but it’s particularly bad on the Moto 360. While a lot of Android Wear devices, like the Sony SmartWatch 3 for instance, can get two days of battery life, it’s a rare occurrence rather than the norm. The Pebble Time, however, gets 5 – 7 days or so on battery life. Mostly due to the 64 color, low refresh rate LCD (e-paper would suggest some sort of e-Ink, and there’s none of that in the Pebble Time) but we’re also pretty sure the team made very calculated decisions to get that battery life as good as they good. It’s pretty obvious Google needs to knuckle down on battery life in general, and Android M shows some excellent promise, so let’s hope that some of this shrinks down to our wrists as well.

The Timeline

A neat feature of the Pebble Time is to show you a look at your day, one piece at a time. This is something that I wish Android Wear did. Sure, Wear is basically Google Now on your wrist, but when I was in London this week the cards for my train tickets never appeared on my wrist. That was a big part of my day, and I’d have liked that to be front and center on my watch. I think many of us went for a smartwatch to stop using our phone for small, menial tasks, rather than just to check the weather. Notifications are handled excellently on Android Wear, there’s no denying this, but better support for an overview of your day would be nice. This makes the Pebble Time a sort of personal assistant as well as a watch, rather than the dumb pipe for notifications an Android Wear watch can seem at times.

These are two of the best features that the Pebble Time has offered up to early purchasers, and as competition is good, we’re hoping that Google has been taking notes. As Android Wear continues to mature, we’re sure that Google will keep on improving things, we just hope that they’re not just looking inward for inspiration and ideas.