4 days of Pebble Time

First things first, Pebble Time is not only a ‘smartwatch’. It is the watch that you’ve always wanted since you were a kid with a passion for everything with buttons an IC and an LCD. It is the wearable that you dreamt will allow you someday to control everything from your wrist. So, until that day came, you settled for the Casio calculator watch (close enough).

Casio CA53W Calculator watchIf you didn’t mind wearing that when you were a kid (or even now?) the Pebble Time is perfect for you. Why? Because, in my opinion, it is every maker’s watch. We had to have one not because of how it looks or the features it offered. We had to have it because we wanted to ‘tinker‘ with it. Now, with that said, here are my thoughts of the Pebble Time after wearing it for 4 days so far. This is not a traditional review, there is no conclusion, I’m just laying out my observations of the device and personal experience using it.

Package Delivery – Excitement

I rushed to the post office to get my long awaited Pebble. What I received was this.

Pebble Time PackageThoughts:

  • The packaging is nice and simple
  • Worried that the inside might be damaged

Pebble Time Package ContentContent:

  • Pebble Time
  • USB Charging Cable
  • Manuals

Pebble Time Kickstarter Backer EngravingPebble Time First RunAfter you turn on the Pebble for the first time and connect it to your mobile device, a firmware upgrade is downloaded and installed immediately.

Pebble Time TicToc Watchface

 

Once the upgrade is complete, the default watch-face Tic Toc will show. The Pebble time’s battery comes charged up to 40% from factory.

Day 1 – Exploration

  • The Pebble has a quick startup, it takes a few seconds to boot-up
  • The USB charging/data cable is 1m long (~40inches)
  • The USB cable has 2 relatively strong magnets that attach to the pins at the bottom of the device
  • The bluetooth pairing with the iPhone 5S was very quick (a couple of seconds)
  • I charged the device to 100% at the end of the day it took ~40min from 40%

Problems

  • Notifications start to get annoying quickly especially Whatsapp or other IM notifications (I had to mute a few groups I was in)
  • If the firmware update is downloading or getting installed on the watch and the phone goes into sleep mode, the upgrade will halt and you have to start all over again
  • Bluetooth and 3G are draining my iPhone but it’s still manageable with 2 partial charges during a 24 hour span

The Store

The store is very nice and well designed, below are a few snapshots of it.

Pebble Store - Watchfaces Pebble Store - Menu

Pebble Store - Apps

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Habit

The watch became an interesting addition to my daily workflow. I no longer had the urge to touch my phone unless I wanted to see the details of a notification or address an email or a call. My phone was ‘silent’ all day long and I had no need to put it in any other mode.

  • Battery is at 90% at the end of the second day
  • Accepting or Rejecting calls from the watch is a nice feature
  • Do Not Disturb mode for notifications is a great feature, I have it configured from 12:00AM to 7:00AM
  • Timeline is very nice if you have all your events stored in your calendar, otherwise it’s pointless
  • The e-ink screen is good for outdoor conditions

Problems

  • My arm hair is a nuisance when you try to press the buttons on the watch
  • Notifications take a while to get dismissed from the main screen
  • e-ink is great outdoor or indoor with proper lighting. In the dark the backlight is a little bit dim

Day 3 – So far so good

  • Battery is at 80% at the end of the third day
  • Getting high urges to start designing my own watchface and a few applications ideas are starting to take shape

Problems

  • I’m worried that the Kickstarter engraving will fade away from water or sweat
  • The water is water resistant but I’m not sure it is water proof

Day 4 – Let’s get technical

  • Battery is at 60%
  • The new Pebble Time SDK is great!
  • The development environment is really nice (tested it on OS X – quite seamless to setup), the emulators are good enough and the development process is easy to kickstart
  • The tutorials are very well written, as a recommendation you can start with the Watchface tutorial
  • The libraries provide ‘enough‘ but for hardcore developers who want more control of the hardware they’re pretty limited
  • Not really a big fan of CloudPebble although it clears the barriers of entry for new developers. Although to be fair, I haven’t use it yet…

Recommendations

Watchfaces

Light Binary (Binary Watchface) : Link

1TTMM (Simplistic Design) : Link

DIGITTM : Link

If you share my love for simplistic designs TTMM have designed a great collection of watchfaces, have a look.

Great projects to be on the lookout for

There’s a great project on Kickstarter ‘Deus Ex Aria’ that promises a strap for Pebble Time (among other smartwatches) that will recognize finger gestures from the wrist and map them to specific functions on the watch. As usual, the videos and campaign over promise sometimes, but that’s the risk early adopters take to stay on the edge.. No?