When Pebble was a going concern there were a couple of smart bands that appeared to add functionality to the Pebble watch. I liked the idea of these although I’m not sure that they were particularly successful.
The Apple Watch has had a couple of similar add ons with bands that add video capability and one that adds gestural control. I looked at both and decided that, whilst they were both interesting, they were both bulky and I knew that in the end I wouldn’t use them and they’d end up on eBay.
Now I wonder why these haven’t become more mainstream? It would seem like an obvious place to put more functionality and controls, but no one seems to be doing that. I do wonder if a future Apple Watch will bring that kind of functionality. One thing is for sure though. They’ll have looked at it, or they are looking at it.
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.
For ages I’ve been trying to find better ways to make use of my Pebble Time. I’ve tried music related apps. There weren’t many. You can see above the ‘chordinator’, but there was also a metronome, and even a synth controller that I could never make work sadly.
I did stumble over some other briefly useful apps, like a headline app for BBC news, and a public transport app that was brilliant, although it seems to have given up now. They were good, but never amazing.
So now it seems that at some point in the not too distant future the Pebble will stop working completely. Which is really disappointing. Apparently Fitbit intend to keep things going for a year. That’s nice, but what’s going to be more interesting is what alternatives might spring up for Pebble users. Things like alternative operating systems. I’ve been doing some research on this. There were a couple that looked interesting.
This was another possible, but has now been bought up by Google so it looks like it’ll become a part of Android Wear. So it’s a dead end.
This is actually an iOS app that lets you create and install custom firmware. Which might be useful in time.
Aside from that it doesn’t look particularly good. I’m hoping that users will develop a community based solution to this. That’s the best outcome. The worst outcome is that Pebbles will be bricked and become obsolete. I really hope that doesn’t happen. I’d like to think that my Pebble has some life left in it. This is especially important for two or three reasons.
I’d started looking into building my own Pebble app as I couldn’t find any that really did what I wanted.
I’ve got a Pebble re-phone kit that I literally got out the day before Pebble got bought.
I’m still waiting for a Deus Ex Aria smart strap from kickstarter
So it would be nice if the Pebble itself lasted a bit longer.
Time will tell what happens next. As for my own next steps, I still plan to tinker around with this stuff, and as I do I’ll post any results worth sharing.
I was looking forward to this. It seemed like a great device and I’ve got quite a few ideas on how to use it, but they’re going to have to wait now for at least an extra couple of months it seems. These things happen I guess, and let’s face it, all kickstarter stuff tends to be late, especially hardware, so I shouldn’t be too surprised really.
There’s been a couple of kickstarter projects that have been interesting but so far neither have delivered the goods. I’m still hopeful that the smart strap idea will deliver some really interesting possibilities and make the Pebble into more than just a smart watch and more of an IoT device.
I think next year will be a bit of a make or break time for the Pebble.
I’ve been waiting to see when smart straps would arrive for the Pebble Time. This one looks really cool, the only down side is the wait before they’re manufactured. It’s a whole year away! I guess I’ll wait. I’m sure there’ll be other people making smart straps in the interim.