Pebble Time: First Thoughts

Pebble TimeAbout a fortnight ago I added at Pebble Time to my collection of gadgetry. It’s one of the more basic second gen smartwatches, with a 64-colour e-ink screen rather than a touchscreen, as well as a microphone. Most of its functionality is derived from a bluetooth connection to a mobile phone. To buy one in the shops will set you back around £200.

Overall, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. In particular, I think the hardware is exactly as described. It feels professional rather than cheap (so I can wear it into work), the screen is always readable, and I get good battery life out of it (at least 4 days). I’m told it’s water resistant, at least as far as swimming pools, washing up and taking showers are involved.

The core of the software is also good. I like the timeline feature, which allows you to scroll through events (‘pins’) chronologically. My main gripe, however, is that there is seemingly no way to transform notifications (you receive a text message, so your wrist vibrates) into pins automatically. So once you’ve read the text, and dismissed or even replied to it, that message is gone once more.

There are definitely some specific apps for storing bits of data — the last text you received from a contact, that tweet that referenced you. But this fails to make use of the timeline’s raison d’etre i.e. chronological sorting of pins from all manner of different sources. I hope this will change as the timeline feature (which is new to the Pebble Time) becomes more widely adopted. In the meantime, I have set up a series of IFTTTs, which capture major events (calls, SMS, emails) and put them in a Google calendar. Pebble then rightly imports the calendar events as pins, so I can scroll through them. But it’s a hacky workaround.

App support is still patchy — but then, I did get a Pebble Time via preorder, so that’s to be expected. And I think with time the software can and will get better (I’ve even had a play around myself). What can’t evolve is the hardware, which is why I’m so happy Pebble seem to have go that right straight off the bat.

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