My Week with the Pebble Watch

A few Fridays ago I got an itch to do something different. Something that took me away from the web and services and clients. Something that was fun and captured some of the joy I had when I first played with hardware and lower level systems many years ago.

For a few months there has been some buzz about the Pebble watch and how it had delivered on the promises from its KickStarter campaign. Sadly, since I did not back the project getting one meant waiting until they were widely available. More than a year later the local Best Buy had a few in stock so I figured now would be a good time to give this a try.

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Getting Started

The documentation for this device is very well put together. All that is needed is a device to pair the watch and to run the Pebble Smart Watch App for communication between the phone and watch. Developing for the Pebble means you will need to be comfortable programming in C. Though not my favorite programming language it’s serviceable and there exist a fair amount of really good libraries, also. With that in mind, I installed the Android tablet version of the App and got started.

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Wonderful. That was possibly one of the smoothest setups I have had for a piece of technology in a while. The pairing works like any Bluetooth pairing. My device is now aware of the Pebble watch and now I can move onto checking out what Apps already exist.

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Apps go onto the device very quickly and all seem to work as advertised.

Time to take this thing back.

So why did I return it?

I cannot fault the Pebble store for not having a large offerings of Apps and watch faces. Nor can I really say the communication with devices was poor. Also, it had a very mature deployment flow and fairly decent documentation, with example projects that worked without having to check the forums or Stack Overflow for missing knowledge.

But with all that said, why didn’t I keep this and continue creating on the platform? Why not contribute to help grow something that is obviously being handled well and may be around for quite a while?

Sadly, this was just not fun. It just was not any fun for me to code for this platform. This isn’t because of the C programming requirement, this is more than a philosophical disagreement on what the best language happens to be.

The things that I could do with the device rely too heavily on the paired device that I could not really get into the watch as a piece of wearable technology. I was hoping for more computing power within the watch itself so that I can really make use of services and sensor data, but this doesn’t look to be possible within the watch on its own. Also, the e-ink display feels like an e-ink display and refreshes like an e-ink display. In this day and age technology has come a lot further, and full color LDCs are really prettier to look at along with giving better refresh rates and resolution.

Maybe Google’s Android Wear¬†will be a better platform for more modern companion Apps.

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