GPS comes to Pebble Time smartwatches with Powerstrap Pal

Pebble's third-party smartstrap support allows for cool features like GPS.

Pebble’s plan to make its current generation of smartwatches even smarter is a genius one: The company includes a port for accessory makers to create straps that add all sort of functionality to the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel. Since Pebble announced that plan last spring, developers have created straps with built-in heart rate monitoring, wireless charging, and gesture control. But GPS has remained a requested but missing feature—until now.

Powerstrap just launched a Kickstarter for its Pal GPS smartstrap for the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel, which will let you track runs and store them on the sporty, sweat- and water-resistant strap (which comes in six colors) for up to 24 hours, no smartphone required. You then sync the GPS data with your phone, where you can view pace, speed, altitude, and a map of the route you ran. You can brag about your stats with easy social media sharing, too.

Unlike most devices with GPS, the Pal won’t drain your watch battery. Powerstrap actually promises to extend your Pebble’s battery life by seven days with its own 250mAh battery, which means it doesn’t use your Pebble’s battery at all. You can activate the Pal’s Pebble-charging ability by toggling on the strap’s power support, or it’ll kick in automatically when your Pebble battery dwindles. You can charge the Pal and the Pebble simulataneously with the Pebble charging cable.

Powerstrap has a US$80,000 Kickstarter goal. Early backers can nab a Pal for as low as US$65. The first wave of Pal straps will ship in October, with a final retail price of US$110.

The company also aims to open up its strap to third-party developers who want to make apps that tap into the Pal’s GPS, like biking apps, geocaching apps, and popular fitness apps.

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Caitlin McGarry

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