In Praise of Pebble

I recently got a pebble watch which I enjoy very much, though maybe not for the reasons you’d expect.

Recap: Pebble is an e-paper based watch with customizable faces and some communication with your phone over BLE. You can download watch faces and apps from the community on their app store. The app store works nicely but quality apps are few and far between, perhaps because of the limitations on communicating with the phone or just the difficulty level of programming

- you have to write apps in straight C!

Regardless, I wasn’t interested in the watch because I could control my garage door opener from my wrist

but because I could get phone notifications without being a social pariah.

I should clarify. I always have my phone on silent, not because I need to be “always on offense and never on defense” but because ringing phones in public are obnoxious. This works pretty well for me but sometimes I would miss notifications, particularly when I’m walking and can’t feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. Most of the time this is OK - a solid 90% of my notifications are pretty trivial - but sometimes I’m waiting to hear back from someone important and it would be nice to get those notifications without having to fumble around with my phone.

Ditto when interacting in social situations. I hate being the guy who takes out his phone to check on some notification during a conversation. A quick glance at my wrist is far less distracting than extracting my phone from my pocket, particularly when I accidentally swipe to unlock, accidentally clearing the newest notifications from the screen.

In truth, I could eschew the whole app ecosystem on the Pebble if it was a more compact device. All I really want is the time and some way to glance at my notification text - I almost purchased the new Fitbit Force as it can show who’s currently calling (and the time) but alas, they never got around to integrating the rest of your notifications and the Force has been recalled for some time now.

So Pebble isn’t as much an ecosystem of useful things like the iPhone, it’s a simple accessory that does one or two things well. Perhaps this will inform the entrance of Apple into the wearable space and we’ll simply see a device that does a few (health related, it seems) things well rather than a full-on MAKE APPS FOR YOUR WRIST device like so many people like to speculate.

Fri, Apr 25, 2014