Pebble’s Core is a tiny Android computer that tracks runs and plays Spotify – Ars Technica

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As the wearable space becomes increasingly crowded, Pebble is holding strong amid stiff competition. Companies like Fitbit and Garmin are trying to turn fitness trackers into all-purpose smartwatches, but Pebble’s CEO Eric Migicovsky is making sure that Pebble does “a couple things really really well.” That’s the premise behind Pebble’s newest and most unique device, the Pebble Core smart running module. It’s a tiny computer that tracks running and can sync with your Spotify account so you really don’t have to take your phone with you on a workout anymore.

Run free

The Core is Pebble’s first non-smartwatch product. It’s a small square with rounded edges and two circular indents on its front. The larger is the main button for starting and stopping tracking, and the smaller one in the corner, in true Pebble fashion, can be hacked to perform a number of features. You could program it to send an emergency text to someone when you leave your phone at home, call an Uber when you find yourself in a pinch, or a number of other things. On the top side of the core is a hold slider and a headphone jack, and the device is Bluetooth ready so you can connect wired or wireless headphones to it.

Aside from Bluetooth, the Core is Wi-Fi ready, and it has a 3G modem, 4GB of storage, and a GPS to map runs. Migicovsky describes it as a “tiny computer running Android 5.0,” so it could end up being much more than a clip-on running monitor. Migicovsky went so far as to say that you might be able to use the Core’s smaller button to open your garage door or even find your keys if you leave the device attached to a key ring. Pebble’s history of making its devices open to the developer community makes a device like the Core quite appealing since its small size lets it take on many functions depending on the features people develop for it.

But the whole point of the Core is to free yourself from your phone while you run. If you pay for Spotify, the device will start streaming selected playlists as soon as you start tracking a workout. The device can also connect to other apps like Under Armour Record, Strava, RunKeeper, and MapMyRun so you can sync your data to your preferred program. The Core comes with a small wireless charging pad, and the battery is meant to last up to nine hours while tracking runs and streaming music. That’s not as good as smartwatches with larger batteries, of course, but considering that continuous GPS use is included in the battery life projection, it’s a decent lifespan.

Maintaining the smartwatch family

In addition to the Pebble Core, two more new Pebble products are joining the lineup. The Pebble 2 is the first big update to the original Pebble, and somewhat surprisingly, the Pebble Time 2 will be replacing the original Pebble Time and Time Steel as the “fashionable” gadget option.

After seeing so much of the Time and the Time Steel since their launch over a year ago, it was refreshing to see Migicovsky hold up the Pebble 2. It’s similar in design to the original Pebble, and it now has a scratch-resistant display, a built-in microphone for voice commands and note-taking, a water resistance level of up to 30 meters, and a built-in AMS optical heart rate monitor on its underside. Migicovsky told us that even with continuous heart rate monitoring during exercise and resting heart rate readings every ten minutes throughout the day, the Pebble 2 should last up to a week before needing a charge.

Pebble’s Core is a tiny Android computer that tracks runs and plays Spotify – Ars Technica