Pebble, the Palo Alto-based startup that makes nifty smartwatches, is the latest wearable-maker to announce a new product with a giant elephant in the room.
This morning the company introduced Pebble Time, a brand-new smartwatch that features a color display, unlike its two Pebble predecessors, which had black and white E-ink displays.
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The Pebble Time's interchangeable rubber band gives it a more casual feel. But the display is covered in durable Gorilla Glass, with a stainless steel bezel. It's also 20 percent thinner than the previous model and slightly curved to fit the wrist more comfortably. It also has a microphone for dictating short text responses.
Despite its always-on color display, Pebble says battery life should be about seven days on a charge.
With this new software and hardware combo, Pebble believes it has found a solution to what you might call app overload on a tiny smartwatch screen. It's called the "timeline."
Rather than force the wearer to go back to the watch home screen each time she wants to open a new app (Pebble supports over 6,500 apps), they'll appear on a scrolling timeline. This includes past apps, ones that are relevant now and apps that might be useful in the near future. They're cued up through three physical buttons on the right side of the watch face.
For example, a "past" notification might show last night's game score from the ESPN app, while "now" would include an update from a weather, traffic or stock app; and "future" information might include an alert from the Fandango app for a movie you're seeing that evening.
And finally, the charging port on the underside of the Pebble Time will double as an accessories port — so something like a heart-rate sensor or a small GPS device could attach to the watch. These accessories don't exist yet, but Pebble thinks hardware companies will make them.
The Pebble Time goes on sale this morning and is expected to ship in May. It costs $159 or $199 — depending on when you buy it.
Interestingly, Pebble is going back to its Kickstarter roots for the Pebble Time. Rather sell the Time on its own website or through one of its 15,000 retail partners, the company is first launching a 31-day Kickstarter campaign, to "tell the story" of the new watch and appeal to hardcore Pebble fans.