My new kickstarter backer Pebble Smartwatch arrived this weekend – and tempted as I was to just put it on ebay straight away I had a bit of a play with it.
The Pebble is a ‘smartwatch’ that connects via bluetooth to your phone. It’s a fairly simple devices a little bit bigger than a regular casio, featuring 4 buttons and a magnetic charging point. The display (described as e-paper rather than e-ink) is a classic black and white lcd – although it’s not quite as high contrast as the display in a kindle it’s not far off and it updates much more quickly without the ghosting you typically get with an ereader.
Out of the box you get vibrating text message, phone call and email notifications, and a few different watch faces – a really nice touch is the shake to activate the backlight function. It’s also possible to control your phone’s music app through a simple pause / play / skip forward and back interface. Battery life is quoted as being a week – although I tend to leave it on charge with my phone every night. Overall it’s a lovely device – perhaps not worth the mega prices cropping up on ebay right now, but worth waiting for.
I suspect watches like this will get smaller, cheaper and a bit more robust over time – my one gripe is that I wish they’d included a glass front rather than the polished plastic.
As this is a version 1 device – as Kickstarter keeps telling us they are not a store – some of the software feels a little bit unpolished, but there is plenty of potential there for handy remote control functions.
And this leads me on to the pebbles killer feature – it’s possible to write software and upload it to the watch using the SDK which has recently been released by Pebble.
For those with less time on their hands there is: http://www.watchface-generator.de
Which is an online custom watch face generator site – on the left is my design in progress.
The website allows you to customise the font size and background image (in this case my website’s logo) and do a bit of tweaking – it then generates a file you can download on your mobile and open using the Pebble App.
Rather cleverly it provides the download with a QR code making it very simple to open it on your phone and send it to the Pebble.
Bingo! – you can create a super-simple simple watchface in minutes:
I’m not going to put this online as there’s something
hipster nice about owning a watch face that no-one else has.. and there’s this thread here bemoaning the millions of not particularly good designs that will clog up the more professionally designed sites.
Ultimately designing a watchface (or other clever app – am thinking if there’s a Raspberry Pi projec here) properly using the SDK would be more satisfying, but the sheer speed and ease you can do this is amazing.
Update: Pebble is now on version 2, but mypebblefaces.com has been updated as well. Watch faces can include second counters, analogue displays and battery status.