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.
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 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.
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…
Which is positive as there’s no real future for Pebble watches with Pebble or FitBit, Rebble could be a possibility. It seems that they’re making progress albeit slow progress. The latest update is the 23rd of April. I’m hopeful that this will bring the Pebble back to life, but it is early days.
I backed this app on Kickstarter and had a lot of trouble with the beta, but the latest version seems good and the display on the Pebble is pretty good. Now all I need to get it to do is work with Spotify. I haven’t really tried as yet, and I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult.
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.
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.
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’m really loving experimenting with the Fossil. It’s a great old smartwatch from before we called things smartwatches and before we knew what a wearable was. Hopefully in the not too distant future I’ll have some apps for it too.