Using a Pebble Smartwatch

6 months ago, I got a Pebble Watch. Not the Pebble Watch Time, or Pebble Steel.

My first, and overriding, impression was a reminder of my childhood, when I got a Game Boy, and my friend got a Lynx. He laughed because his was colour, and looked cooler. I laughed when he ran out of battery and couldn’t find any games for it. And for many years, Nintendo had the best selling console. That’s how I feel with the Pebble vs the other smart watches. Pebble has the battery life, and a simplicity of purpose, whilst the competition have touch screens, a lot more sensors and capability, but a battery life that means you always know where your charger is.

What is the Pebble like to use

Bluetooth pairing is annoying. It took at least 10 attempts to get the watch to pair with my phone. The watch could see the phone and the phone could see the watch, but it was very fiddly to verify the pin in the short window it was visible. I had this experience with 2 separate phones so I’m blaming the watch.

I needed to get a new strap because my wrist reacted badly to the one it shipped with.

Replies to sms and hangouts are very slick. Access to Android notification quick actions and dismiss is very useful.

Responding to phone calls is a little less slick. On both phones there’s a very noticeable delay between the call starting to ring and the watch displaying the caller id and reject option. All other notifications show up at the same time, or occasionally before, they sure up on the phone.

I had to restrict the apps that notified to my watch because the vibrations were going crazy. That’s helped me out using my phone anyway, it was a good excuse for a spring clean.

I like the night time mode – no notifications whilst you sleep, so I can use the watch to track my sleep and as an alarm. I use Misfit for sleep tracking and it works well. It also tracks my steps, but so does Google Fit on my phone.

My wife isn’t convinced by the claim that it’s not meant to wake her up when the alarm vibrates on my wrist.

It’s very good at what it does, showing my notifications, and letting me reply where the Android notification allows. It’s also easy to develop for.

In the spirit of Troy Hunt

Troy Hunt : The Apple Watch is simultaneously awesome and pointless.

Compared to the Apple Watch, some apps require an Android or iOS partner if they need functionality the Pebble app doesn’t provide, but in general, only settings and notifications direct you to your phone. If you can’t do it on the pebble, there’s no point in having the app. A few apps do require network access via the phone, but it should be obvious when and where they need it.

It’s been rock-solid. I’ve had one watch app crash occasionally, but the watch itself has not crashed.

There’s no microphone on the original models, and the short messages and glanceability are the key use case. Unlike the Apple Watch, thankfully there’s no TTP or pointless photos.

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