Remember when cell phones first came out and you were like "I'll only use this in an emergency, so it'll go in the glove compartment." You know you said that. When smartphones first came out, you also said "who needs email so bad that you have to check it on your phone, Mr. I'm-So-Important." That's just the way things go. When scary new technology comes out, our reaction is to say we've lived this long without it, so it's probably not necessary. Then we pop a Starbucks K-cup in our Keurig and binge watch House of Cards on Netflix.
A few months ago, Fury asked me for a Pebble for his upcoming birthday. That's the only reason it rang a bell when I was offered one, courtesy of AT&T.
Disclosure: I wasn't paid any money to wear this thing on my wrist for the past two months. Having this scary technology to play with for the rest of its (or my) life was the only compensation I got. I need to stop signing my life away like this, or at the very least negotiate some beer into the deal.
What's done is done.
Since actually using a Pebble seemed to be the best way to vet this gadget as a potential birthday present, I saw this as serendipitous. And my son saw this as "aw come on, dad! For real?" when I proudly showed him the Pebble on my wrist, just a short time after learning of its existence -- from him. Come to think of it, he also had the same reaction when he visited my office the other day and saw the Boba Fett and frozen Han Solo Squinkies displayed on my filing cabinet. He got Star Wars Squinkies in his stocking, but dad snagged the really good ones from of the assortment pack. Dad gets the big piece of chicken.
But I digress. This is about my life with the Pebble smartwatch, a device that has taken an accessory that has remained essentially unchanged -- aside from a few years of glory in the 80's when someone threw a calculator on them as a way to tag people whose lunch money was easiest to steal -- and fundamentally changed the way we interact with it.
Like the first smartphone detractor, I too thought "I can't really think of a reason why I'd need something on my wrist that tells me what's coming through my cell phone, which sits less than a foot away in my pocket." Now that I've been using this thing since February, I can tell you why (to the great relief of the PR rep who sent me the watch, who is probably now thinking "took you long enough - this better be good, Mr Busy Guy"). Aside from the fact that it's actually pretty cool to read your texts and emails on your watch, here are some other reasons I never saw coming.
I usually carry my phone in my pocket, so when someone calls me, I actually need to reach in my pocket, take out my phone, see who it is, and then decide whether or not answer it. By that time, I've invested so much movement into the endeavor that I may as well answer it. With the Pebble, the scenario goes like this: you feel the Pebble vibrate, you look at your watch like you're checking the time, see who it is, then press a button on the Pebble to reject it. Phone stays in your pocket. The rejection power-to-effort ROI on this thing is incredible!
Cooking in Peace
I'm sure they'll cover it in a Cosmos episode one day, but there's this universal law that states that the number of calls and texts you get is inversely proportional to the difficulty level of the food you are trying to prepare at the moment. I always get calls, texts or pings when I'm cutting meat, handling flour or doing something equally messy. Being the kind of person I am, if I ignore that missive, I will drive myself crazy, thinking "I really should check that voicemail/text/@reply/comment/email right NOW!" So instead, I drop what I'm doing, wash my hands, dry them, reach into my pocket and look at my phone. Most of the time, I realize it was a waste of time and paper towels. But of course, the one call I miss will be the one time George Lucas decides to dial a random person and offer him the part of Boba Fett in the next Star Wars movie, because that's what he does! I know it! With the Pebble, I can just look at my watch and know exactly what I'm missing while my hands are covered in cow blood. And if it happens to be George, I won't recognize the number and I will miss his call anyway because I never pick up random inbound calls. And that's probably why I'll never be Boba Fett. But let's say it's someone I would wash cow blood off my hands for, and they also happen to be in my contacts, like Shannon. Not a waste of paper towels.
You know when you're expecting a call, but it doesn't come in, so you go take a shower, and then the moment you start shampooing, you hear the phone ring, so you rush out of the shower all sudsy and drippy, and look at the phone and it's someone else, and now your phone is wet, the floor is flooded and you hate the world? That won't happen with the Pebble. You'd know it wasn't that call because you'd see the caller ID on your watch. Keep enjoying your shower, my friend. Also, how can you hate the world when you can play Tetris in the shower?
There are lots of times when you can't really take your phone out and check it. The Pebble lets you do this. The game changing use case for me is the movie theater. You can check your texts and see who's calling you without taking out your phone. This way, if you feel that it's worth stepping out to reply, you can do so. This is great for playing hooky from work. KIDDING! I am glued to my work... by passion! But speaking of work, meetings are a great place for Pebble. No matter what it's for, taking your cell phone out during a meeting is kind of a dickish move. Looking at your watch (well, unless you are looking at it every 3 min, and look very bored) isn't that conspicuous. Pro-Tip: no matter how funny the text, laughing while looking at your watch might be construed as suspect. Make sure to point at some random person in the room while you do it.
Did you know that you can control the music on your phone with the Pebble? I know it, and use it to my advantage. The other day, leaned in to give Shannon a kiss. With the click of a button, the phone on my nightstand played "Kiss On My List." Note: Pebble merely provides the technology. Mad wooing skills are up to you.
Messing with Kids
There are tons of cool apps you can download onto your Pebble. One of them is a remote control for LG TVs. I happen to have an LG TV, and some victims. Here's the set-up for the video below: TXU and Brendan are watching TV and they have no idea I can control the volume with my watch. I have too much fun pitting them against one another:
You can download tons of cool watch faces onto your Pebble and you can switch them on the fly. But I ask you this: if you have this one, why would you ever need to?
The verdict on Fury getting a Pebble? Maybe not this year. With great power comes great distraction, and if this thing can distract me in such wonderful ways at 41, I cannot imagine what it can do to a soon-to-be 12-year-old. One day, perhaps grasshopper will be able to snatch this Pebble from my wrist. Then he will be ready.
(If you know me at all, you know that the whole reason I agreed to do this experiment was to be able to weave that last line into my blog.)