Wednesday 2 September 2015

My time with Pebble Time

Quick Review

I've had the new Pebble Time for a couple of weeks now and thought I'd pen down a quick overview of what I think.

Pebble Time reminds me of the Nokia S40/60 phones from ten years ago. It's a great 1st smartwatch if you can get used to a few irritants.

The good

  1. Notifications on the wrist are great. It's usually the small ones like messages on Whatsapp or personal emails that really don't need more than a quick glance that this works best with
  2. Google authenticator/ Bank OTP's are fantastic on the watch. No more reaching for the phone for that number
  3. The timeline interface works really well and is a great construct for a smartwatch. There's unfortunately just not enough apps yet to fill it up, and those that are there aren't always reliable
  4. Pebble Time has the fastest charging possible. It goes from 0 - 100% in about an hour which is a real boon

The bad

  1. The battery life is nowhere near the much touted 7 days. I have only moderate usage and I've just about managed 3 days + another day with just the watch functionality. If I turn off activity tracking (either with Misfit or Plex), it goes up to 4 + 1 days
  2. The apps for the Pebble are slow to load. To get over the 8 app limit of the old Pebble, I feel the Pebble Time actively swaps apps in and out of the connected phone. It's a nifty trick but makes for really long loading times if the app isn't in the Pebble Time memory already
  3. It's just not as useful on the iPhone, though that's not really Pebble's fault

The ugly

  1. You really don't need a smartwatch (yet). There just isn't a killer use case
  2. They should have really made the bezzle smaller

Should you buy it?

The answer isn't straightforward.

All said and done, I'm pretty happy with the Pebble Time. It's a great gadget, though smartwatches as a whole need another iteration to become really useful, IMO.I would recommend the Pebble only if you are an early adopter who doesn't have an iPhone and doesn't think Android wear watches are worth the time. But if you're anyone else, then the Pebble Time may not be as useful for you. If you're only looking for Fitness tracking features, get a Fitbit instead. It does one thing and does it better than any tracking app for the Pebble.

If you do decide to get one after reading this, keep reading on.

Must have watchfaces

Most websites recommend way too many watchfaces. I enjoyed changing them when I had just got my Pebble watch, but I've realised that it's finally boiled down to these 4 for me:
  1. Digital watchface: 91 Dub v3.0 (link) that I use with F91-W by NIVZ as my preferred theme
    91 Dub v3.0
  2. Analog watchface: Timeface One (Analog) (link) that I use with a black background, white numbers and red watch hands

    Timeface One (Analog)
  3. Minimal watchface: Macro clock (link) that I use with a black background, white numbers and red watch hand
    Macro clock
  4. Fun watchface: Mario Time (link) which is only used to show friends what a fun watch the Pebble Time is, but is never used otherwise
    Mario Time

Must have apps

There are a ton of apps for the Pebble, but after a lot of installs and uninstalls, I realised that the only ones used are the ones that do not need much input. Games are completely out. The list below is in the order I have them on my Pebble
  1. Dialer for Pebble (link) - More feature rich than the default Pebble dialler app. Let's you remotely put the phone on speaker which is a great feature
    Dialer for Pebble
  2. Music Boss (link) - Far better than the default Music app. Music Boss lets you control your music and switch between different music apps on the phone
    Music Boss
  3. Nav Me (link) - Google maps navigation on the wrist. Excellent use for the Pebble
    Nav Me
  4. Runkeeper (link) - This isn't a Pebble app, but works with the Runkeeper app on the phone. Other running apps include Strava, Runtastic and Endomondo, but this is the one I use
  5. Gallon Challenge (link) - The best app for reminders to drink water
    Gallon Challenge
  6. Uber (link) - a.k.a. Transport, a big help if you use use the service often
  7. Watch Trigger (link) - To be able to click a selfie from afar. Would have liked it better if it used the default camera app on the phone
    Watch Trigger
  8. Travel (link) - Should sync with Tripit, but I'm having some issues. Ronny who develops it is quick to respond though, so I'm hoping the bugs get worked out. Try Pebble Trips (link) for a more static experience and no timeline integration.
    TravelPebble Trips
  9. Misfit (link)/ Plexfit (link) - Both decent apps for fitness tracking, though I found Plex to be slightly more accurate because you can manually adjust sensitivity. Neither of them are as good as a Fitbit though, and the lack of a social angle is pretty bad (NOTE: Misfit does have a social aspect, but I don't know anyone else using one)
  10. Battery+ (link) - This is never going to be a mainstay once I figure out how much battery life I get, but it's a great app for a few weeks

Special mention

The special mention goes out to an android app called Tablet Notifier (link) which is great for me because I have 2 phones, one for business and one personal. It mirrors notifications from my work phone to my personal phone which is connected to the Pebble Time, so that I can get notifications (or rather notification alerts) from both devices. Pushbullet used to do this far better, but notification mirroring across Android devices has been discontinued.