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?

 

The Personal MBA – a must read book

20120520-020416.jpg

The Personal MBA

I am usually not a big fan of small posts as I prefer to elaborate on thoughts and take ideas to higher levels of abstractions. However this time it’s an exception!

The Personal MBA (PMBA) by Josh Kaufman is must buy/must read book. By the time of publishing of this post I have barely finished the first 3 chapters, and for the first time I feel deeply connected with the author. The ideas described in the first chapter about the importance of multidisciplinary thinking, self education, and mental models have been topics of high interest to me over the years. However I never reached a level of thought maturity that allows me to speak of these topics. Josh does it extremely well.

For every college dropout, entrepreneur, employee, one with a great idea, one who wants to execute a dream; This book is a must read. For whoever wants to dive into the mind of “Freethinkers”, this book is yours.

In a later post i’ll elaborate my thoughts on the term Freethinkers. For the time being, go buy and enjoy the book!

My Amazon Kindle Fire experience from outside the US

Kindle Fire
Kindle Fire (http://www.bloomberg.com/image/i6nACZ9aRxeI.jpg)

Kindle Fire a new tablet?

Does the Kindle Fire fall under the tablet category? In my humble opinion I believe not. Kindle was and still is an e-Reader, designed to provide an intuitive platform to easily download and read books in digital format. However, one cannot deny that the Kindle Fire does provide some very sweet perks! The Amazon app store is filled with hundreds even thousands of popular Android apps.

Amazon applications store is not available in your country?!

When I first read this message I was like, WTF?! I bought my Kindle for nothing? Well no one to blame but myself, I didn’t do much research to see that Amazon still hasn’t launched Kindle outside the US; which also means that you cannot buy books if you do not have a US credit card and a US billing address.

Umm.. So what now?!

No worries, there is always a way to make the best out of your Kindle even from outside the States. But it means that you have to acquire some basic technical skills first.

“How to hack?”

It’s very simple; all you need to download applications on your kindle is apk files of these applications. These apk files are executables that your Kindle or more exactly the Android OS running on it fires to install the desired application. Luckily you can use your Kindle’s browser to google these apk files and launch them from the download section instantly. Any Android app should in theory work properly on your kindle.

1. Download File expert application (which is free) from the developer’s website: [Download Link]. You can use your Kindle’s browser to do so.

2. Once the download is complete, launch and install the application.

3. In your Kindle, click on the top bar to slide down the settings bar.

4. Click on “More”

5. Click on “Device”

6. “Allow Installation of Applications” is set by default to “Off” set it to “On”.

7. Download the apk file for the application you want on your PC, use your USB cable to copy the file to your kindle. Place it anywhere you want.

8. Using File Expert go to that directory in your Kindle and launch the apk file.

Using the above I showed you 2 ways to download applications on your kindle. Just make sure you are not violating any distribution laws by downloading non-free applications.

File Expert download page
File Expert download page
File Expert Snapshot
File Expert Snapshot
Apps Location on the Kindle Connected via USB cable
Apps Location on the Kindle Connected via USB cable

What about books?

Kindle supports the following e-book formats: .mobi  .azw   .pdf . If you have bought books in any of those formats you can copy them instantly to your Kindle using your USB cable and you’ll be able to read them on the fly. Kindle does not support .epub! So be careful.

I copied a .mobi book to my kindle and I can’t see it!

It happened to me, all you need to is to restart your Kindle. Press on the power button and hold, it will ask you if you want to shutdown your kindle, approve. Start your Kindle again using that button and once it launches you will see the .mobi book in the books section, if not it will in the docs section.

PDF is annoying to read on Kindle can it be converted to a Kindle native format?

Yes and there are many ways to do so. The best and simplest is provided by this website:

http://ebook.online-convert.com/convert-to-mobi

Converting .PDF to .MOBI online
Converting .PDF to .MOBI online

Conclusion

All in all, Kindle Fire is a great product, I’ve read 5 books on it so far and it has been a good experience. Kindle Fire will fulfill your needs as long as you do not forget that the main purpose of the device is to be an e-reader, the rest is just a bonus!

 

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