Pebble: first thoughtsJames Whatley
Recently, in the last episode of The Voicemail of 2013 (Episode 079) Stefan and I were asked the following question:
‘Given that 2014 will be the year of the smartwatch, what would we be looking for in a next generation smartwatch when selecting one?’
At the time, Stefan had a Samsung Galaxy Gear and I… did not. I hadn’t tried a smartwatch before, and so couldn’t really comment (Stefan could though, and I’ve appended his words, with my own additions, to the end of this post). Those kind people at Pebble heard about this, and sent one out for me to try.
It arrived this morning, and I set it up over my lunch. Here it is –
Yes, I went for white.
Now look, I’m brand new to this whole wearable tech thing so I’m quite intrigued about what kind of affect it’ll have on my existing behaviours. In the same way the iPad changed [and actually increased] my reading habits, I wonder what the world of smartwatches, nay, Pebble watches will do to the way I interact with my tech.
Moreover, I know I’m not unique in the Pebble-owning world (I know several people that both own and love theirs), but I am intending on writing up how I get on with it over the coming days, weeks, and months.
Out of the box, the Pebble is fairly simple to set up. You download an app onto your device (I sport 2013’s phone of the year, the HTC One) and then connect to the Pebble over Bluetooth. A minor firmware update later (and of course a spot of charging) and you’re ready to go.
Initial impressions (in no real order)
- Firmware update didn’t work first time, had to unpair and reboot. Second time it worked like a charm and I hope all future updates are as painless.
- The Pebble app is fairly limited, and the immediate urge is to download a new one. I’m trying Pebble Notifier [FREE] but others recommend apps such as Augmented Smartwatch Pro [NOT FREE]. Until I know what I need from my Pebble, I won’t be making the leap quite yet.
- It works with RunKeeper – YES! No new app installs, it just works. My RunKeeper app on Android shows a teeny little watch icon when it’s working too. Super cool.
- It works with Spotify – YES! Skipping a track is easy and, while track display is also available, I’ve found this to be a bit patchy and doesn’t always have anything to display. But when it does, it’s cool!
- It doesn’t work with my work email account. I’m desperately trying to find a work around but no joy, yet. More experimentation required. To be fair to Pebble, my employer’s email is run on Google Apps and they have IMAP disabled as standard. Bit of a ball ache, but I’m sure I’ll find a way through it at some point. Weirdly, Hangout alerts (and messages) come through just fine, so maybe a tinker with the settings somewhere will help.
- The Pebble community is HUGE. I joined the Google+ group today (don’t laugh) and I turned out to be their 4000th member. I’m very excited about this.
- Everyone is talking about ‘Firmware v2’ and the Pebble ‘App Store’ being ‘just around the corner’. Apparently these are good things and I should be looking forward to them. Fingers crossed for that then.
- In the seven hours that I’ve been using it, the Pebble has already reduced the amount of times I’ve had to pick up my phone. This can only be a good thing.
And that’s it. I’m fully aware that I am very much in calibration mode with this thing at the moment. Each person, each device, and each experience is different. Some people like a lot of alerts, some people don’t.
Slowly but surely I’m working out the hierarchy of what I need and what I don’t (SMS’s? Notify me. Instagram comments and likes? Don’t notify me). And when that process is complete, I think I’m going to enjoy owning this Pebble device very, very much.
More to come, soon.
- It needs to look good.
Check! I got the white one, it looks great!
- It needs to work with your current device.
Check! No problems so far.
- It has to perform well in terms of battery life.
Apparently one charge should last seven days, so let’s see.