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Pebble Smart Watch Review

Posted: , posted by Brian K.

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Pebble ships with a USB charging cable and the watch, nothing else. The watch receives all updates via the Bluetooth connection with your smartphone running either Android 2.3.3 or iOS 5 and newer and the Pebble app. Initial pairing is done from your phone’s Bluetooth menu, as you would with any other Bluetooth device.

The watch interface is simple: the left button brings up the menu, and you use the right buttons to scroll up and down, with the middle button selecting your item. Here you can choose from installed watch faces, switch to music control, set an alarm or change some basic settings like font size or backlight. Notifications come through in basic text, with a slight vibration to notify you. The vibrating notification is a bit jarring at first, but you quickly get used to it. For now the communication for notifications is strictly one way from the phone to the watch - there is no way to take an action on alerts, such as sending a quick reply or marking an email as read.

The watch interface is simple - Pebble Smart Watch Review
The watch interface is simple - Pebble Smart Watch Review
The watch interface is simple - Pebble Smart Watch Review
The watch interface is simple - Pebble Smart Watch Review

Pebble connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and on iOS it is recognized as an audio device. Even though it doesn’t seem to cause issues with car stereos, headsets or Bluetooth speakers, Siri sometimes attempts to send sound through the Pebble instead of over the phone speakers. A simple fix is to tell Siri to use the phone speakers, but Pebble has acknowledged the problem and is working on a fix. Another iOS issues is that if you lose the connection between the phone and Pebble notification preferences are reset, meaning you have to tell the Pebble app you want alerts you want all over. Again, a nuisance that Pebble has acknowledged and is working on.

On the Android side Pebble works via Android’s accessibility software, which means that you must give Pebble permission to collect most of your typed data, although passwords are safe. If you’re wearing a tin-foil hat this is enough to scare you off, but what it ultimately means is that the notification platform is much more robust on Android, at least until some changes are made to iOS that will give Pebble access to Notification Center.

Pebble Smart Watch Review
Pebble Smart Watch Review
Pebble Smart Watch Review
Pebble Smart Watch Review

One of the big promises of Pebble was the cool things you could do with it; things like using it as a bike computer or a golf range finder. Unfortunately right now Pebble simply acts to push messages to your wrist, or to control your music. As it stands, officially you can get notifications for incoming calls, SMS (but not MMS), calendar reminders, email, Gmail, Google Talk and Voice, Facebook and WhatsApp. Notifications are nice and fundamental to what Pebble is, but we’d also like to see some apps that go beyond just pushing notifications.

The future looks bright though, as Pebble is working with Runkeeper and Freecaddie to bring running and golf apps to the market, and developers are already stepping up to fill the void. On the Android front you have apps like Pebble Notifier, Light Flow and Augmented Smartwatch Pro and on iOS you can use BTNotificationEnabler, though you must be jailbroken. With over 85,000 watches and an SDK about to be in the marketplace we’d expect developer support to continue growing.

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