On Saturday a neighbor allowed me to borrow his Pebble Steel smart watch. I’ve been mildly interested in a wearable computer for a while, but not enough to shell out any cash for one 1, so this was a great opportunity.
The watch is an older generation Pebble Steel, but was still surprisingly easy to set up. In a few moments I was able to set up my watch face, add some apps, and even connect a notifications app for one of my Slack Teams. The only hiccup I had was configuring a calendar app for notifications, as the process hung every time I’d try to approve access. I didn’t really care about this, as I didn’t particularly want calendar info on the watch, but I can see some people being frustrated by it.
Then I began using it, and this is where things began to fall apart.
For me, the problem with smart watches is they only cater to “watch people.” As I said, I am not a watch person, I find glancing at my wrist to be awkward and, in the Pebble’s case, activating the buttons to be an exercise in contortion. In fact, there isn’t a smart watch on the planet which doesn’t suffering from this issue. If you don’t enjoy working with a watch form-factor, it doesn’t matter how simple or beautiful something is, it’s just not going to be appealing.
I do have to hand Pebble props for achieving one thing. I didn’t immediately want to remove this thing from my wrist as soon as the clasp locked. It may seem like a small thing, but I really hate having things on my wrists 2. The few times I decided to try on an Apple Watch the moment the band was snapped it was all could do to keep myself from ripping the device from my body. The Pebble Steel, however, managed to stay on my wrist for the bulk of the afternoon. I even managed to glance at some notifications as the day progressed. Because the clasp is so bulky, however, I simply could not type with the device on my wrist. The band kept bumping against my MacBook Pro’s body and would even slip off the edge, which caused my hands to move unexpectedly. Perhaps I could get used to it, but I have no desire to do so. As I type this post the watch is dutifully sitting next to my Mac, waiting for me to wear it once more.
I’m committed to this experiment for several days, and perhaps I will grow used to the watch. Right now, however, I don’t see it happening. Using my phone is faster and less frustrating.
You see, I’m just not a watch person.