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Pebble Reveals Time Steel, Lets Developers Create Straps

BARCELONA - Pebble has been busy. The company announced its new $199 Pebble Time smartwatch right before the start of Mobile World Congress, and it quickly blew past its Kickstarter funding goal. Now Pebble has unveiled the Time Steel, along with a new smart strap platform that allows developers to add features.

Priced at $299 ($250 for those who order on Kickstarter), the Time Steel is the dressed-up version of the Time, featuring an all-metal body with sturdy metal strap. The Steel's body is also slightly taller and thicker than the regular Time, which provides enough room for a battery that's rated to last a whopping 10 days. If this holds true, the Steel would have the longest endurance of any smartwatch.

We also got our first good look at the regular Pebble Time at Mobile World Congress, while lives up to the hype. It's noticeably lighter than the original, and the new color ePaper display really pops. Pebble told me that it focused on the display's coating, ensuring that it would look just as good and appear just as readable in both dim and bright lighting.

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I easily navigated the new OS, aptly named Timeline, using the three physical buttons on the watch's side. Pebble is hoping users will see the Past, Present and Future layout of Timeline as a more natural way of organizing their time each day.

But the most intriguing aspect of the new Pebble Time series is the lowest-tech part of the watch: the strap. Pebble introduced a new feature called smart straps, which provide an open API for developers to create special-function straps.

The straps that Pebble currently makes have a new "quick release" closure (which isn't so quick if you have long nails). The new straps can be made to extend past the hinge and into the battery connector. From there, the tech in the straps work with the guts of the smartwatch to add features such as heart rate monitoring and NFC. While Pebble didn't divulge what types of smart straps will be available, the company said there will be some coming soon.

Smart straps will be compatible with both Pebble Time and Time Steel, which gives customers the ability to, say, mix and match leather bands and smart bands with the Steel's metal body.

The Pebble Time will start shipping to Kickstarter backers in May for $159 and will cost $199 for everyone else. The Pebble Time Steel just hit Kickstarter today.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.