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My take on Pebble

The Pebble watch has been out for some time now. Last year I pledged and funded 2 Pebble watches during their historic Kickstarter campaign. Unfortunately I never received mine but suspect it will show up sometime soon.

I’m really excited about wearable computing and couldn’t wait any longer. I ordered mine on Amazon and it arrived earlier this week. I’ve been using it since.

Some initial thoughts:

0. First, what is Pebble? Pebble is watch that serves as a companion to your phone. You can get text messages and phone call notifications on your Pebble. Basically any notification on your phone also vibrates and gets displayed on your Pebble. 

1. Set up.

Oy. It wasn’t easy and I use new things for a living. Basically step #1 is to pair your phone and your Pebble. Maybe Android is easier but it took me many attempts to pair with my iPhone 5S. The good news is that once paired it keeps the connection. 

2. Hardware

I like the form factor. It’s quite light and comfortable (unlike the Nike Fuelband). The display is clear and easy to read. But the hardware feels extremely cheap and the design is a far cry from ideal. I also wish it used a standard micro usb connector instead of yet another proprietary charger.

3. Battery life. Even though it uses eink technology this thing is constantly talking to your phone. I find it easily makes it through the day but I need to charge mine nightly. 

4. Software. After you pair it, your Pebble now will vibrate and display all notifications that your phone is configured for. In my case that means Kik, SMS, phone and calendar notifications all make it to my Pebble. If you get a phone call you can accept or reject the call from Pebble. You can’t set up different notifications for your Pebble vs your phone. 

Once you get a Pebble notification it goes away when it receives a new one. Think of it as snapchat on your wrist. At first this bothered me to no end. I’m used to the behavior on my phone and wanted to read older notifications.

But that isn’t the purpose of pebble. It’s just a light notification system so you don’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket/bag/jacket every time your phone calls you. Once you accept that it is a huge convenience. I love that a simple glance tells me so much. 

(The Pebble is also integrated with Runkeeper which is very exciting for me. I haven’t tested the integration but will give it a try on my next run).

There is a lot of room for improvement with this sort of device. From richer software experiences and new applications to better hardware quality and design. In many ways this feels still like a beta.

But I’m keeping my Pebble and excited about where this is all going.