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Pebble reveals new Steel smartwatches

The second generation of the Pebble E Ink smartwatch is about to arrive, with the announcement of the US$249 Steel and the impending arrival of the Pebble appstore.

Pebble is still the record holder for the most-funded ever Kickstarter campaign and, although its launch was hit with some unexpected problems — such as delays from the massive number of preorders and a few software glitches, but the little E Ink watch that could is still a favourite.

And it's now officially grown up: the company has just announced the Pebble Steel, the premium version of the US$150 watch. Coming in at US$249, the Steel is slimmer, smaller — and wrapped in a stainless steel case and bracelet, as opposed to the original Pebble's plastic and rubber, with an oleophobic Gorilla Glass crystal.

The new Pebble Steel in two finishes, with the older version on the right.
(Credit: Scott Stein/CNET)

It's available in two finishes, brushed stainless steel or matte black, with either a stainless steel link bracelet or leather strap. Hardware upgrades include an RGB LED battery indicator, a revamped magnetic charging cable, and a Bluetooth antenna wrapped around the body for better reception. Like the Pebble before it, the Steel is waterproof to 50 metres.

The Pebble appstore — promised since the Kickstarter campaign — will launch concurrently, Pebble said. So far, Pebble owners have had to rely on third-party marketplaces. The Pebble store will provide a location where users can purchase and download smartwatch-optimised apps and faces, with launch partners including ESPN, Mercedes and Pandora.

The app store will include such categories as "Daily", for apps such as news, weather and other data checked on a daily basis; "Remotes", for remote control for other devices; "Fitness" for fitness tracking; "Tools & Utilities"; "Notifications" for social network and web service notifications; and "Games".

The Pebble Steel is due to ship at the end of January, and is available now for preorder from the Pebble website.