Rebble hackathon

I find myself inextricably drawn back to the Pebble ecosystem, if indeed you can call it that. I had the original Pebble, then the Pebble Time. I got rid of both. The I decided to try something different with an original Pebble that I put on my key ring. I tried that for a few months, but in the end I really had no need for it, it had no real use at all.

Then I heard about this Rebble Hackathon, and once more, my interest is peaked. Why? Well, I have no idea really. For a start I don’t currently even own a Pebble device. However, I’ve been looking on eBay for them again. Once more, why? I do not know. It is probably just an obsession of some kind. I even tried using a Pebble on my key chain.

Sadly that little experiment was never really a success.

Anyway, I’m interested in what comes out from it. The event is running now (18th – 20th November 2022). If you want to find out more here’s the event page.

Apple Watch music apps

I have been looking for Apple Watch Muisc apps since I first got this device. However, to date I have failed to find anything that really ticks the box for me.

There are some though. I can’t say that there aren’t. Here’s what I have been using so far.

Wotja

If you don’t know this app, Wotja is a generative music app for iOS, macOS and Android too. What’s more it works on Apple watch. Having said that, the Apple watch app is effectively a remote for the iOS app. Whilst that works fine, and what’s more is actually quite useful in many ways, I had really wanted something that actually made music on the Apple Watch.

Holonist

Another app that works effectively as a data connection for the iOS app. Again, this is fine, and in fact very useful as the Apple watch app collects a lot of data that is then translated into usable information for making music. But it doesn’t make music on its own. Which is a bit of a shame.

And there is a Holon as well, which is good in of itself. Sort of like Holonist’s little sibling and it does actually make sound, but it connects to the iPhone version.

Shazam …

Of course, there is Shazam and I have used it on my Apple Watch. Whilst it is a music app in many people’s eyes, it doesn’t really fit that category for me. But it is handy to have.

So what am I actually looking for?

Well that’s the real question right. What am I looking for in an apple watch music app? That’s the question really. I think that ideally I’d like an app that allowed me to actually make music on my apple watch independently of anything else.

I can imagine that if Allihoopa had continued that their Figure app might have been a good candidate for just such a thing. The Figure interface could have scaled down to a watch app I think. That would have worked and could have been a good way to start something on a watch then move to an iPhone or iPad and then beyond.

So where does that leave me? I doubt very much that anyone is going to make such a thing, not for just me anyway.

Impressions of the Apple Watch

I bought an Apple Watch around half way through 2020, over a year ago now. It was a device that I had always been tempted by, but never got around to buying. Initially I didn’t like the Apple Watch because it was actually thicker than the Pebble Time smartwatch I had for a long time, but with the more recent series Apple seem to have made them slimmer, and to me, more acceptable as a watch.

There are lots of reasons why I got it. One major one was around data. Data about me, and being able to use that data to create music. But enough of that for now. It is a subject for another day at some point in the future.

When I bought an Apple Watch it was before OS 14, so some of the functionality that I now enjoy wasn’t there, but it was a series 5 watch so hopefully it will last a few years at least. I don’t expect it to have the same replacement cycle as an iPhone. Sadly, for me, they brought out the series 6 watch just under two months after I got mine, which was annoying, but never mind, these things happen. At least I will be able to time my next purchase a bit better.

The device itself is a nice piece of technology, and the connection between it and the iPhone is very solid. The health data is interesting and useful, and as a device for receiving, and in some cases acting on notifications it is actually extremely useful. Certainly more useful than my old Pebble devices.

However, what I really want, is for it to useful as a device in its own right and not just as an adjunct to other devices. That has been my aim with most of the wearables I’ve had over the years, and my expectation was that the Apple Watch should be the device that meets those expectations.

So far there are only a few things it does completely on its own. For the most part it is a companion to my phone, and, whilst that’s ok, it isn’t quite what I want.

The apps I am finding useful at the moment are:

  • Just Record – A very simple audio recorder, but a very useful app to have on your watch
  • Shazam – Finding tracks using my watch is very handy (yes, pun intended)
  • Wotja – Generative music controlled from my watch
  • Holonist – Music data created from my own motion and bio data

There are a few others too, but the above are things are use regularly.

I was skeptical about having an Apple Watch. It was an experiment, and, thankfully, one that paid off. Since buying it have used it every day and now I’m not sure that I would be very comfortable without it.

I expect I will write again about how I’m getting on with it. Probably in a few months. Well, maybe.

Original Pebble revived

I backed the original Pebble on Kickstarter, and used the original Pebble device for quite some time. It was great and very useful indeed, but I replaced it with the Pebble Time when that came out.

I had experimented with using the original with an old iPhone, and effectively converting the Pebble to be used as a keychain accessory. This is fairly easy to do with a 3D printed part.

However, on reflection, there was really no point to this, so I gave up this idea. It’s a shame, but if it serves no purpose, then there’s no real point in doing it.

So, whilst it still works just fine, it’s probably time to say goodbye to Pebble 1. Maybe someone else will have a good use for it.

I am annoyed that Blocks Smartwatch will never see the light of day

I know that you can’t guarantee that a Kickstarter project will come about. But when a project raises $1.5m+ and ends up with less than £20k in the bank you have to ask about why and how that happened. This is the case with the Blocks Smartwatch. It did really well on kickstarter and now is in receivership. I’m annoyed about this.

No one is going to get what they ordered. No one is going to get their money back. How do you turn all that cash into a complete failure? I just don’t know.

It makes me, and I’m guessing the other 500 odd backers, a lot more cautious about putting down money for Kickstarter campaigns that may never see the light of day. I’ve still got a couple that are now years behind schedule and fairly doubtful about. These days I find myself resisting most interesting ideas on Kickstarter simply because of being burnt once already.

I would have liked to have seen this device come to life. I think the idea of modular things, but perhaps it was just never to be.

Pebble Time Resurrected

For some time I’ve thought that my Pebble Time smartwatch was done for. But just a week or so ago I managed to resurrect it. Partly just as an experiment to see if it might be useful or not. Partly as something to do at the moment.

So far it seems to be working ok. My next step is to see if I can connect it to Rebble as the original Pebble servers are long gone. More on that in the next few days I’d guess.


More posts about the Pebble Smartwatch

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So the Pebble will last a bit longer then

Pebble’s latest iOS app (and I guess Android as well), removes the Pebble watch reliance on Pebble’s servers and means that the device can last a lot longer than the end of 2017, or at least that’s how it seems.

I’m still hopeful that someone else will bring out a real alternative firmware for Pebble soon. I’m hoping that Rebble will do something, but there’s been no update on their site since the end of January. There will certainly be enough Pebble users to make it worth their while, or at least I would imagine so. I’d happily pay for something new from them.

Rebble comes along, a glimmer of hope for Pebble owners?

I’d been wondering when this might happen. I thought it was very likely that a group might come together to launch something for the Pebble community before they’re forsaken by Pebble, or rather Fitbit in a year.

It’s early days, but I hope that they do make something worthwhile.