Looking to preempt Google's big Android Wear unveiling, Pebble is today announcing a new partnership with wearable maker Misfit that will turn its smartwatch into a pedometer. While the unique appeal of the Pebble has always been in its stripped-down simplicity, the deluge of step-tracking wearables and the imminent entry of Google into the smartwatch market have made it necessary for the utilitarian wrist device to expand its repertoire. The attractive thing about today's upgrade is that it only requires a free Misfit watch app — no extra hardware — to convert a Pebble or Pebble Steel into a smartphone-independent pedometer.

Phone-tethered alternatives (such as the RunKeeper app) and unofficial pedometer apps have already shown up in the Pebble app store, but Misfit's software is the first to be endorsed by the device's maker. An updated Misfit health-tracking app is also expected to soon arrive at the iOS App Store, adding support for the Pebble and tracking additional metrics like calories burned and distance traveled.