The Pebble Core is a wearable designed for runners and is the company's first non-smartwatch device as it makes a bigger push into the world of fitness.
Until we get our hands on one to look at to see if it can cut it on a big run, here's all of the information we know about the Pebble Core so far.
Pebble Core: Design
The most obvious thing to notice about the Core is the fact it doesn't have a screen. It will work with a Pebble smartwatch letting you see running data like pace, distance, and speed from your wrist. But it can also work as a standalone device, so you can leave your smartphone behind. It does also include two buttons, which can be customised to assign to launch apps or actions. Want to order an Uber? You'll be able to do it from the Core with a single press.
Available in black or white colours, It's made out of polycarbonate and rubber to give it a durable, robust body able to withstand your workouts. It weighs just 50g and, while it's quite thick, it looks like the magnetised clip should easily slip onto your waistband, sleeve or hide in a pocket. (The exact dimensions are 40mm x 40mm x 20mm).
There's a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired sports earphones and it connects to your phone via Bluetooth 4.1 so there you might also be able to hook up Bluetooth headphones. There's no microphones, but it will support headphones with microphones built in.
It's also sweat and rain resistant so that does mean you can't go swimming like you can with Pebble's smartwatches.
Pebble Core: Features
The most notable features for runners is alongside an accelerometer motion sensor, the Core also has GPS built in so you can track runs accurately. Although it doesn't appear to support GLONASS. It's compatible with Runkeeper, Strava, Under Armour Record, MapMyRun and Google Fit smartphone apps. So you don't have to give up on your favourite fitness apps. The device will also support Moov-style audio cues from your running and fitness apps.
Sadly, there's no heart rate monitor on board to measure workout intensity, but that's perhaps no surprise when it's not worn against your skin. You will be able to pair with one of Pebble's new watches that do pack optical heart rate sensors, to add real time HR readings to your sessions. There's no news on ANT+ connectivity, which will be come as a disappoint for cyclists thinking the Core could be worth taking out on a ride.
Joining the GPS tracking is a built-in MP3 player with 4GB of storage to pile on your music. It's not clear though how that music gets onto the Core, but we hope it might be a simple drag and drop situation here. When you don't have time to pack some music onto your Core, it also supports Spotify (Premium accounts only) streaming over 3G thanks to the Micro SIM card slot that's built into the device.
Hopefully it'll be a case of slipping in the Micro SIM from your smartphone, but we don't have any details on how Pebble sees its customers paying for a micro SIM yet i.e. if there are any partnerships with operators to make sure you're not paying for a plan just for Spotify (Premium only) streaming every month. There's also Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) support as well to make it easier to sync data too and stream music.
In terms of extra features, not aimed at runners, the wearable can send a SOS alert with your location in emergencies, capture voice notes (via your phone's mic) and activate Pebble apps - like Uber - with one tap.
Pebble Core: The hacker option
It's worth noting that Pebble is also offering the Pebble Core for Hackers. So if you're not a runner, the Core could become your "keychain computer" and "magic button" in the same way that the Misfit Flash Link can control music and smart home gadgets. It offers two programmable buttons, a hardware expansion port and early access to Pebble's SDK for Core.
Pebble has suggested a variety of potential uses for the Android based device including the ability to track a pet, unlocking a car, turning lights on/off or even opening your garage door.
What could make the Core even more desirable for hackers is the fact that Pebble has announced that it's adding support for Amazon's Alexa voice service tech. That means you'll be able to utilise the mic to do things like play music from Amazon Prime Music, get weather and traffic updates, get the day's news read to you, control smart home devices and shop for gifts on Amazon.
Pebble Core: Software
So here's where things get interesting. For the first time, Pebble has decided to opt for an Android (Android AOSP 5.0 to give it its full name) operating system over its own Pebble OS operating system. That doesn't mean this is an Android only wearable though. It'll be compatible with iPhone 4s and above running at least iOS 8.0. It can also be paired with Android devices running 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and above.
Pebble Health fans will be happy to know that you can still tap into the recently introduced software including the ability to track and record runs when making use of the built-in GPS.
Pebble Core: Battery life
According to Pebble, the Core can muster up 20 hours of battery life while in GPS mode, 9 hours with GPS and listening back to stored music, or 4 hours when the GPS is in use and you're streaming music over 3G. Those are pretty impressive numbers and it's clear that the decision not to include a screen has been a major factor in keeping those stamina levels high.
Unlike Pebble's smartwatches, the Core comes with a USB to 3.5mm headphone charging cable and will also offer optional wireless QI charging support, letting you drop it onto third party wireless charging pads and mats to power it up.
Pebble Core: Price and release date
The Pebble Core is currently available for $69 through Kickstarter, with the price jumping up to $99 when it officially goes on sale. That makes it Pebble's cheapest wearable yet when you consider the Pebble Classic is currently available at around $99. An iPod Shuffle will currently cost you $49 and for the money, the Core is giving you a whole lot more than Apple's cheapest MP3 player.
If you want one though, you're going to have to wait. The Core is expected to start shipping in January 2017, not September/November 2016 like the Time 2 and Pebble 2.
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