After many months of waiting, fraught with missed shipment dates and a relative lack of communication, the Pebble smartwatch I pledged for back in April is finally in my hands, or, rather, upon my wrist. This has been a long time coming, but the dream has finally been realized, at least in the sense that backers are finally seeing the Pebble come to fruition.
Truth be told, I wasn’t a big fan of the watch in the moments following linking it with my iPhone. Its notification support was surprisingly limited. I was able to screen basic things like phone calls and text messages on the device but other notifications like emails and whatnot weren’t sent to the device. Now, it’s easy to blame this on the Pebble itself but no, the blame for the limited notification support lies solely in Apple’s hands. Due to inherent limitations on how notifications are supported within iOS itself, only certain notifications can be pushed to the Pebble, thereby limiting its usefulness to the iPhone user.
Unless, of course, your iOS device of choice has been jailbroken.
Immediately after realizing just how limited the notification support was on the Pebble’s end, I began to wonder if someone within the jailbreaking community had developed a workaround of some sort. A few seconds later I discovered that, yes, someone (developer Conrad Kramer to be precise) had already developed and released a program that allows one to choose which apps can send notifications to the Pebble from within the Notification Center in the iOS settings app, which you can read about here.
One quick download and reboot of my iPhone later and my Pebble just became a lot better.
Now, I have the ability to screen individual emails, Facebook notifications, news and weather alerts and so on directly from the Pebble just after my iPhone receives them.
Oh jailbreak community, how I love thee.
Now I’ve heard various conflicting reports on the Pebble’s battery life in the past few weeks since the first backers received their watches and reviews began popping up like the first flowers of spring. Some say the Pebble’s battery life is within the manufacturer’s 5 – 7 day estimates and some say they’re lucky to get even 48 hours out of the thing before it dies.
I only just got the thing a few hours ago so I can’t comment on its battery life. I will keep it away from its (rather intelligently designed) charging cable over the next few days to see how the battery holds up and will update this post with my findings.
UPDATE: Bad news on the battery life front. I charged it Friday night to make sure it was fully charged before I began my informal tests and used it all day Saturday. I woke up this morning to find a low battery warning and connected its charging cable again. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the 5 – 7 day run time promised by the folks behind Pebble isn’t going to happen. At least not with my Pebble. Rather disappointing to say the least.
So, the burning question many are bound to have at this point is whether or not the Pebble was worth the wait. Well, yes and no. I can’t comment on how the Pebble works with Android, nor can I comment on its long-term usefulness with iOS devices. I can only comment on the first few hours and so far, it pretty much does everything I was expecting it to do out of the box. But, that’s only if you have a jailbroken device and download the tweak I talked about earlier as without it, the Pebble is extremely limited in what it can do. That’s not to say its current state won’t make a lot of people happy, as it probably will, but power users who were expecting a deeper integration with their device of choice (iOS in my case) will likely be a bit disappointed. Then again, power users are likely to have jailbroken their devices as well so I could be wrong.
A smartwatch is, for many people – myself included, a highly superfluous novelty accessory. Before getting the Pebble, I can count the number of times I’ve worn anything on my wrist (much less a watch) in the past couple years on one hand. I’m not a watch guy and I never really have been but the idea of a smartwatch is, to tech nerds like myself, highly appealing. During its Kickstarter heyday, Pebble’s creators kicked around the idea of using it as a golf range finder, a bike companion and a fitness tracker, which leaves the door open to a wealth of potential apps as developers get behind this thing and I’m excited to see where the Pebble goes from here.