Geek break: smartwatch questions

It’s a strange world we live in. When I started this blog, I had a flip phone. For serious! Now the Apple Watch is coming soon, and I figured I’d get one, but now I’m not so sure. I had a chance to grab a Pebble Steel for $150, which isn’t chump change, but I grabbed it anyway. My misgivings were grave. After all, the grail of smartwatches is coming soon!

Here is my reasoning. This is half the price of a first-generation Apple Watch and about $50 more than a piece of rubber that would wrap around my wrist and just track my steps (a FitBit, for example). Pebbles have been around awhile, so they already have a bunch of apps. The bugs are, largely, squashed.

The Pebble was Apple-easy to set up and get notifications working. That is an important point.

The Apple Watch will be able to do things the Pebble can’t, in particular track heart rate, which is important to me medically; I’m just not sure it’s $150 worth of important. The cool wrist taps and heartbeats and all that jazz are worthless if your friends don’t all also have Apple Watches, and mine assuredly will not.

My unanswered question is, will the Apple Watch require your phone to be near it in order to function? A use case I would definitely love would be leaving the phone at home! If I could go for a long walk sans phone and track the walk while listening to a podcast via bluetooth earbuds paired with the watch, that would seriously make me think about shelling out the dough. (The Pebble needs the phone, so although it’s handier to stow it in a pocket, I still have to TAKE the thing.)

If anyone knows, please tell me. This seems like a really important question, but none of the podcasts I’ve listened to that speculate about this watch have addressed it.