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Grow Your Business Technology

Android Wear vs. Pebble Steel: Which Is Better for Business?

Android Wear vs. Pebble Steel: Which Is Better for Business?
The Pebble Steel (left) features a metal wristband, compared to the plastic band on the Samsung Gear Live (right). / Credit: Pebble/Samsung

A smartwatch is a handy tool that can deliver notifications, alerts and more straight to your wrist. But which smartwatch is best for business? Android Wear is a new smartwatch operating system that leverages the power of Google Now, Google's digital assistant app. It's currently available on two different smartwatch models: the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live. But the Pebble Steel, which launched earlier this year, offers a more attractive metal design, longer battery life and a broader library of compatible applications. Can Google's new smartwatch platform stand up to Pebble's time-tested device? Read on for a feature-for-feature comparison of Android Wear and Pebble Steel.

You probably pull your smartphone out of your pocket to check on incoming alerts and calls dozens of times each day, especially if you use your phone for work. Both Android Wear watches and the Pebble Steel connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to pull in new text messages, emails, Twitter interaction, incoming phone calls and more, then deliver them right to your wrist. But there are some key differences. For starters, the Pebble Steel lets you review your last 50 messages at any time; on Android Wear, dismissing an alert makes it disappear from your watch forever, so you'll have to pull out your smartphone to read that message later. On the other hand, Android Wear lets you reply to emails and SMS messages right on your watch using voice dictation; the Pebble Steel only lets you respond with short, prewritten replies. And Google Now delivers information the Pebble Steel can't; for example, it can alert you to bad traffic on your commute route, or let you know when a package has been delivered.

Winner: Android Wear

Having the ability to review old messages right on your watch is a nice perk, but Google Now notifications are so useful that they boost Android Wear to a win in this category.

A good smartwatch is a lot more than a notification catcher. Both Android Wear and Pebble let you perform all sorts of additional tasks. Pebble Steel takes a traditional app-based approach, letting you install and run apps for viewing and managing notes, checking your calendar, managing your finances, and more. The Pebble Steele's app library is large and diverse, with more than 3,200 options.

On your Android Wear device, you'll use voice commands instead of launching apps. Just tap the screen to launch the voice prompt, then state your command. For example, say, "Take a note," then speak your note aloud. Or say, "Text (contact name)," then say your message. As a final example, you can say, "Agenda for today," to see a list of your pending appointments. Pebble Steel, in comparison, lacks voice commands altogether. It is possible to launch apps such as a calculator or notebook in Android Wear, but you'll have to dig through an out-of-the-way menu to do it.

Winner: Android Wear

Voice commands, instead of apps, make Android Wear the more functional smartwatch.

Android Wear watches feature bright, colorful LCD displays that, at a glance, seem to easily outshine the Pebble Steel's monochrome screen. But the Pebble's black-and-white e-ink screen has some serious advantages. For starters, it's more energy-efficient, so the Pebble Steel can last for days, while Android Wear devices must be charged daily. The Pebble Steel's screen is also much easier to read in daylight; you'll have to pump up the brightness to clearly view your Android Wear watch's screen outside.

Winner: Pebble Steel

Android Wear watches have beautiful, colorful displays, but they're not as functional or long lasting as the Pebble Steel's simpler screen.

Android Wear is a touch-screen operating system, letting you perform actions easily with slides and swipes. It's easy and intuitive after just a few minutes of practice: Swipe up to scroll through your alerts; swipe right for more options, and swipe left to dismiss an alert. The Pebble Steel, in comparison, lacks a touch screen, instead using four buttons on the side of the device for navigation. It works well enough, but Android Wear's touch-based interface is more elegant.

Winner: Android Wear

Android Wear makes navigating around your smartwatch fun and easy.

Let's face it: Neither Android Wear device is particularly attractive. The LG G Watch's face is a chunky plastic slab, and while the Gear Live's curved metal bezel is a bit more appealing, it's not exactly high fashion. While you can swap out the wristband on the two Android Wear watches, both ship with cheap plastic bands. That's a big deal: A wearable device should be one that you're proud to wear. That's what helps the Pebble Steel stand out from the pack. It features an understated, all-metal face and a metal wristband, and ships with a handsome leather band if that's more your style. Still, fashion-conscious users might want to hold out for the Moto 360, a sleek Android Wear watch with a metal band and a round face due out later this summer.

Winner: Pebble Steel

You'll be proud to show off the Pebble Steel, while the current crop of Android Wear watches look like toys.

Both smartwatch platforms will get you through the work day, but the Pebble Steel lasts far beyond bed time, running for up to five days on a single charge. Compare that longevity to both Android Wear devices, which peter out before 24 hours have passed. Simply put, the colorful LCD touch screens on the Andriod watches drain your battery in a hurry. As a result, forgetting to charge your Android Wear smartwatch for even a single night invariably turns it into an expensive bracelet. Still, a single day of battery life should suffice if you don't mind plugging in an extra device each night.

Winner: Pebble Steel

The Pebble Steel's impressive longevity can't be beat.

Overall winner: Android Wear

Android Wear takes this matchup, winning in four out of seven categories. Google's OS is simpler and easier to use than Pebble's, and it has handy features like Google Now integration and the ability to dictate messages using your watch's microphone. Meanwhile, the Pebble Steel is still the more stylish smartwatch, and it boasts a more reliable, e-ink display and better longevity.

BUY Pebble Steel >>>

BUY Android Wear >>>

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.