Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
Apps and Sensors
The lead feature of the Pebble Time Steel you don't get in non-Pebbley watches is called Timeline. Move up and down from the clock face and you scroll through events past and present. Up for past, down for future. These'll be calendar events, missed calls and the weather as standard, but some apps can plug things in too.
This bit is easy to use. Then the rest of your installed apps simply get arranged as a list, the apps menu.
One part you might find a little hard to swallow is how little the Pebble Time Steel can really do on its own. Just about everything relies on a connection to your phone as all the watch itself has are a Bluetooth connection and an accelerometer/gyroscope. There's no Wi-Fi, no GPS, no heart rate sensor. If you're looking for a watch you can impress gadget-loving friends with, this may not be it.
The Pebble Time Steel works best when thought of as a watch that doesn't expect much from you in terms of maintenance, but is also mostly a middle-man between you and your phone. It can work as a basic fitness band solo, but if you want any more data than that, or are after something that'll actually let you track your runs and cycles more accurately, you'll need a phone with you.
None of this is new, of course, but limits both what it can do, and what it'll be able to do in future. If you want a bit more detail on the Pebble Time Steel interface, be sure to check out our Pebble Time review.
Pebble Time Steel is an upgrade, but like the Pebble Time it doesn't come with sensors like a heart-rate monitor or a chip for GPS tracking. Those extras (and more) are coming, though.
Pebble announced its Smartstraps initiative to open up its watches to the same hacker community that created so many smartwatch apps over the last two years. It hopes they'll do the same for hardware.
What does this mean? Later this year, Pebble Time Steel and Pebble Time owners will be able to swap out their normal bands for ones that have all sorts of new powers. Everything from measuring fitness in new ways to giving you an extra battery life for up to four weeks on a single charge.
Pebble did say it'll make some of its own Smartstraps, but it'll rely on its dedicated community for most of the watch-strap tinkering. Whether or not the developer community will rally behind crafting their own hardware in the same numbers remains to be seen.
That being said, I like the idea of the strap accessories in general. I don't always need a HRM or GPS, and I'd rather not have those sensors add to the heft of a smartwatch, especially one I wear out at night like the Pebble Time Steel.
The Pebble Time Steel IS the Pebble Time - read our review here - but slightly fancier, more adult and longer-lasting in battery terms. Everything else is pretty much the same.
That means those who don't prefer the new front-on design and don't want a higher-grade strap should make do with the Pebble Time. Want a leather strap? It's a sound maxed-out version. Then there's the question of whether you'll get on with the Pebble watch at all. While easy to live with, its limited features mean it has less potential than the competition from Apple and Android Wear.
Current page: Apps, Sensors and VerdictPrev Page Introduction, Design, Screen and Battery Life
Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.