Half a day with a Pebble

When Apple presented the iPhone in 2007, I was sold after the second time Steve said: “An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator”. Three years later, when they presented the iPad, I was sold after I saw Steve casually browsing the New York Times sitting in that chair. But when they presented the Watch in September I wasn’t immediately sold.

Not because the keynote was bad, not because the product as bad, but mainly because I couldn’t see its purpose. I found it to be a answer for a question that we didn’t ask.

In a way the iPad is also a solution for a problem that we imagine. You can do everything you do on the iPhone or Mac. But thanks to some awesome apps, the iPad proofed that it’s a good product that definitely solves problems. Although one may argue that Apple should keep asking the question -what is it useful for?- in order to further iterate on the original concept and further improve iOS on the iPad. But that’s another discussion.

Apple presented the Watch as a fitness tracker, a way to glance at notifications and a way to interact in an intimate way with your significant other(s). At least, that’s how I remember the keynote. They’re all features that seem useful, but they don’t really solve any issue I have or replace actions I can just as well do on my iPhone or iPad. My iPhone can tell me how many steps I took and my iPad can alert me for a new mail, it’s not that I get anything new from buying the watch,

In a way where the iPad promised a better reading experience than the Mac, and a better way to be productive on the road compared to the iPhone, it’s seems to me that Apple argues that the Watch will be better at notifying me than the iPhone currently does. They are selling a better feature experience as a reason for this new product to exist.

So the standing question is: do I want my notifications to be improved? Is getting email alerts on my wrist something I want? Is glancing at a message from my girlfriend during a boring meeting going to improve my life? Or will this intimacy cause me to be more stressful because I literally carry my work on my wrist now?

Only one way to find out: test it. So when a friend was selling his Pebble Steel this week because he was moving to a Moto 360 I decided to buy it from him. The fact that it was dirt cheap (about half retail price and thus similar to a Jawbone or Fitbit) made the decision even easier.

The Pebble gives me passive notifications (I can only glance, not respond), a step counter and an alarm on my wrist. At least, that’s what I’ve got currently installed. So now I’m curious: will I like it? Will it improve my life in any way? Will I get addicted to it? Will glancing at my wrist become a habit?

I’m curious.

But one thing I’m sure of: if I like the idea of a smart watch, I’m buying an Watch, because the Pebble currently feels like a hack on top of iOS instead of something that just works. Nothing beats integration when it comes to user experience and the joy of tech.