You may not remember WebOS, but the stylish-looking operating system was well-received when it briefly appeared on Palm’s range of handsets half a decade ago. Although Palm’s hardware never made a substantial dent on the market, the clean and clear software it ran attracted a lot of fans, and WebOS has since made an appearance on LG’s range of smart television sets after first being taken over by HP.
Now two of the principal designers behind WebOS, head of product and UX Itai Vonshak and head of design Liron Damir, are heading to Pebble to work on software for the e-ink smartwatch. If the history of WebOS is anything to go by then Pebble users can look forward to a refreshed interface that’s easy on the eye and simple to use. The original WebOS was based around swipeable cards that brought important information front and center.
If you’re thinking that sounds a lot like Google Now and Android Wear, you’d be right – Pebble has a battle on its hands to stay relevant as the major players enter the smartwatch market, and the company will be hoping that the acquisitions of Vonshak and Damir can help it stay one step ahead. Pebble continues to improve its firmware, but the full-color interactive Android Wear leaves it looking dull and limited in comparison.
In a brief chat with the Verge, Vonshak said that Pebble would be aiming for “a product-focused philosophy” and “a spirit of openness” that match the same kind of values behind the original WebOS. How soon it is before we see the fruits of his labors in the Pebble interface remains to be seen.
After launching off the back of the most successful Kickstarter of all time, the Pebble smartwatch quickly won over many thousands of fans. An improved app store appeared in February and a premium Steel model was introduced this year. According to Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky, the company had sold 400,000 Pebble smartwatches by March 2014 – that’s an impressive number for a small startup, but the real competition is only just starting to arrive.