Mobile

Pebble smartwatch officially adds Android Wear support for all

The feature was previously available in a beta release, but is now open to the public as a free update.

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A look at how Pebble integrates with Android Wear. Pebble

Anyone who owns a Pebble smartwatch will now be able to reply and act on Android Wear notifications they see from their device, the hardware maker has announced.

The smartwatch comes with its own operating system, but in December, Pebble announced that a beta version of its software would include support for Android Wear, the mobile operating system Google has developed for wearables. At that time, the company said that "if you can do it with Android Wear, you can do it with Pebble."

In a blog post Monday announcing the final build's wide release, the company reiterated that. Integrating with Android Wear opens up a range of possibilities for Pebble owners because the OS has an ecosystem of thousands of apps that support notifications and can work on the device.

Pebble was one of the first companies to double down on smartwatches, attracting a loyal following after a successful, $10.3 million Kickstarter campaign in 2012.

"We're really excited that Android has made their platform so open to third-party accessories like Pebble," a Pebble spokesman said. "We've got a lot more cool stuff planned for 2015 on Android and iOS!"

Interestingly, the integration comes just days after Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky told CNET in an interview that Android Wear is less than desirable. While Migicovsky stopped short of talking about his company's support for Android Wear features, he said that actually building a device running solely on the Android Wear operating system is a bad idea.

"It's still just Google Now, the same Google Now that's on your phone, and it leads to really annoying things that feel awkward," he said of Android Wear. Google Now is the search company's virtual personal assistant that answers questions, performs actions, and gives recommendations based on the user's input.

Migicovsky might be on to something with his evaluation of Android Wear. Last week, research firm Canalys reported that the market has responded rather unfavorably to Android Wear devices. Products running solely on the operating system hit 720,000 unit shipments in 2014, representing just 15.6 percent of the wearables market. In total, 4.6 million wearables were shipped last year.

"We think it would be under where [Google was] hoping to be by the end of the year," Chris Jones, an analyst and vice president at Canalys, said last week. Because of its heavy focus on notifications that drain battery life, Android Wear doesn't appear optimized for wearables until its developers improve how people use the OS and for how long, Jones added.

To make matters worse for Android Wear -- and perhaps even Pebble -- the Apple Watch is lurking around the corner. In a study released Tuesday, research firm CCS Insight predicted that Apple Watch would sell up to 20 million units in 2015, becoming the " most successful smartwatch ever." In total, CCS Insight believes wearable sales will jump to 75 million units in 2015, rising 158 percent year over year.

"The current love affair affluent US consumers have with the iPhone guarantees a strong start for the Apple Watch in its home market," CCS Insight noted. "However, if sales of the Apple Watch fail to meet expectations it could hurt the whole smartwatch market."

Until then, however, Pebble is continuing on with its own platform and support for Android Wear. The updated app is available now in Google Play.