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DanCooper

How would you change the Pebble?

Talk about Kickstarter and, inevitably, Pebble will come up. The smartwatch received over $10 million in funding, and was one of the biggest success stories to come from the site. What’s interesting, however, is that the minimalist aesthetic carries over into the feature set -- offering nothing more than the odd notification and music control, and yet nailing it totally. The aim of this discussion, however, is to ask what you think and feel about the unit now that it’s been strapped to your wrist for the better part of a year? So why not share your experiences.

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63 replies
pillock

Hmmmmm. If I were replying just in regard to the Pebble plus stock software (I'm using Android), it would have to be "better notifications, more notifications".

However, using the notification apps available, this cannot be a complaint - I get everything on my watch (thankfully customisable, there's only so many times you want your watch to tell you your phone has updated an app). I also get the ability to use Tasker through the buttons, see my driving or walking directions, and monitor phone variables such as battery life or calender items.

I think the stock software is a bit limited, but I really can't fault the SDK opening it up to so many great things - this is by far the better way of doing things, rather than software first and SDK later.

At first I thought 8 slots was too few, but then once I realised how many apps I only install to show people "Hey look, my watch has flappy bird" or whatever, even that's not a limitation.
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jlariviere

It would be nice to be able to have a couple more watchfaces or apps installed.

The individual app storage could be better, with it defaulting to last updated info.

As nice as it is having a quiet watch, it would also be nice to have an audible alarm.

Speaking of the alarm, it would be nice to have more customizable of an alarm... e.g. have the 0530 alarm only be for work days...

And of course, if battery life could be better without sacrificing size, it'd be really nice too!
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sonelone

As one of the students who got one of these for free (our school got 2,000 of them, suck it MIT), I have to say that it really is a nifty device. I was originally going to write an app for it, but a bunch of the easier ideas I had had already been written and the the other ideas I have would take too long and I'm busy with other things right now. One major problem that I encountered was the lack of mic support. While the Pebble itself is not powerful enough to do voice recognition, it can easily use the processing power of the connected smartphone to do that. Having a mic would make it so much better. Also, while the Pebble is rated as waterproof, there are build quality issues that make me doubt that fact. I understand that the Pebble steel addresses that issue though. Another is price: $150 plus the cost of carrying around an ugly piece of equipment for the standard model. The cost of development was probably sort of high, but the cost of materials is extremely low(e-ink screen, weak processor, bluetooth, etc.) I guess part of the cost come from the novelty of having a notification center and music controller on your wrist. Anyways, I got mine for free, but wouldn't have paid more than $100 for it. Another one is that a touchscreen would be very useful. In understand that this would decrease battery life and increase size, but the battery life is so good that it wont matter too much and they can find ways to make it smaller. Basically:
1. Microphone
2. Build Quality
3. Cost
4. Touchscreen
Others: reordering stuff in the main menu, more setting controls, displaying text from the email app, more buttons, more memory, mirasol display (color makes everything better)
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yahr2d2

1st of all I would like to know the battery percentage natively. Just a little icon on the face or as soon as you enter the menu. I agree with the shutdown problems and the fact that shutdown pebble is directly above factory reset.

Better bluetooth connectivity would be nice as it drops a lot.

This is more on NitroDesk but I have to use Touchdown for work email and the notifications are kind of terrible. You only get the subject line and no option to scroll thru the email like you do with gmail.

Consistency is what I am looking for. Does anyone else get double hangouts notifications?

I like the 2.0 firmware a lot more than the previous versions.

Does anyone actually get 7 days of battery life? I am lucky to get 4 days. I get a fair amount of email in a day but nothing astronomical.

Instead of all this 3rd party software I would like to see native support for a few of their very useful features. The notification center is a huge example. Why do I have to use a 3rd party app to push regular old android notifications? Should I not have the same function in the pebble app itself? Whitelist/blacklist apps etc,

The forced use of 3rd party notification apps are my biggest pet peeve. They also bring out the buggy behaviour in the watch itself. For instance I use notification center to push touchdown notifications. At least 3 times a week this process will lock up and it will either vibrate until the battery dies or push every single notification that I have received that day from touchdown. I understand this is most likely a fault in notification center itself but if there was native support I doubt there would be an issue. I get my gmails and all other native notifications just fine and they have never locked up the watch.

My original ideal smartwatch was a device you could just push notifications from the shade to the device. Clear on android then it clear on the pebble. Ignore selected persistent notifications if you like. I never saw the concept being that difficult or hard to implement,

I am thankful for my pebble and it really is a rugged device. It has saved me quite a few trips to my pocket. I can know what it going on and it just looks like I am checking the time. I would not give that up for anything now,

Finally can someone suggest a better notification replacement/supplement with support for Touchdown? Notification center drives me batty.
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ronbsmith

might check out pebble notifier, couple of friends of mine use and love it. I personally dont have a need for it.
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MichyMal

Two things:
1) More character set - hate seeing boxes when i receive text in Chinese or other language besides English.
2) App running in the background of the watch - defeats the purpose when you have so many different watchfaces or apps to choose from and you can only use one app or watchface at a time. Say i use a pedometer app and it does not tell the time. If i want to know the time i have to get out of the app but i lose the tracking. If that is the case, not point having 8 slots for apps and watchfaces.
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zackplanet42

1) More App Space
2) Quicker Access to Apps
3) Multitasking (ie. timer running in background while controlling music)
4) More Color Options
5) More Responsive Android App
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benton

I think, they got a good idea poorly implemented. First the hardware have to be improved, I'm agree with most of the people here talking about the screen, how fragile is to scratches. For me is too expensive. I like the 5 ATM water proof feature! Forget about battery to last days. If the watch bring value to my life I charge it everyday without complain.

Software in the other hand, I was expecting SDK v2.0 would make it great after 1.0 feedback but still lacks of common sense when daily use comes. Backlight adjust timeout, apps order, app slots is limited to 8. It lose connection without reason. notification is not consistent... and the list go on and on...

I was expecting activity monitoring apps live letmuv works, but it simply do not!

I'm planning give my red pebble to my young son, and wait for Google watch...
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yahr2d2

www.gadgetwraps.com­/devices­/pebble­-watch.html

I have their black carbonfiber wrap. All of their wraps come with a screen protector that fits directly in the cutout of the wrap. I have had it on there for months now and I have incurred no screen scratches. It dries completely clear and you forget it is even there. I didn't even do the greatest job installing it but mine still looks great.
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pcairic

I own a superb watch that never needs a battery because it's using a solar panel as its watch face.
The Pebble would be super nice if I didn't have to be concerned by its battery level, and recharging it.
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2t

Unicode/rtl language support. Feminine style.
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Weebeetje

The same pebble with one slight difference: acting completely independent from my smartphone..
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azrax

If you can switch on Pebble by pressing any button for 2 seconds. You should let us turn it off as easily not by scrolling the menu for the Shutdown option.
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smartweare

Talking about moving forward...

On hardware side, a microphone (and probably a DSP chip) is a must-have. Voice input has to be the primary input way for smart watch. A speaker is good to have but it's not that urgent. BT-LE should be adopted. 2M total memory size should be increased.

On software side, i18n (internationalization) support is a must-have. Multitask should be on the TODO list. Per-app 64K resource limitation is unreasonably small (this kills all the attempts for putting even the smallest CJK font on pebble). Is there any plan to open source the pebble system like Android does? If so, I believe the community can help to address most of the software improvements.
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jeffe101

Windows Phone integration.
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JCDwight

I would like them to change the functionality of the top and bottom right buttons when on a watchface. I have zero need to change watchfaces on the fly, and this would be much better suited to quick launching apps or scrolling through apps.

The only app I use on the watch is music, because it's a pain in the butt to scroll down the list 5 or so items to find a 3rd party app I want to use. By the time I do that I could have gotten out my phone and launched a full featured app.
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ronbsmith

JC, I would suggest checking out pebblebits.com, it allows you to generate custom firmware and add in some experimental patches that allow the side buttons to launch straight into an app. It also allows you to delete the bloat of the default watch faces and apps in the list. I myself just found it a week ago and already love the custom firmware.
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JCDwight

Thanks! I'll check that out!
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sTeaLthrcn

Overall the idea is great. I really appreciate being able to receive texts right on my watch. Unfortunately, the novelty ends right there. Far too often I get 2-5 notifications for calendar events or reminders that are days and sometimes weeks old all at once. Trying to control music from it seems silly. I really wish it at least would let you answer and talk via your watch. Add a small speaker and mic perhaps? I know it is no iWatch... but I feel they could have done better.
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BruinGuy

I've had a pebble since December. There are two things I'd change. 1) Add sound out. 2)Allow more than 8 items to be loaded. Other than that I think it's a great product.
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josephades

I would love to see a second generation watch that has a built in mic and a small speaker so that we can use siri and androids version of siri to answer our texts and emails right from the watch. Helps out a ton when you are in an area that it's a pain to take out your phone. Especially when you need to just answer really quickly
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hoggleboggle

1 - add two extra buttons on the left side to allow for additional input options such as volume control and play control at the same time
2- a power-saving mode that shuts down everything other than the watch and alarm element when the battery hits 10%
3 - a more scratch resistant screen
4- add an alarm that sets off the watch if it separated from the phone (tied in with a signal strength monitor for the Bluetooth connection so you can customise the distance the phone has to be before the alarm goes off.
5- an app that ties in with google maps
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Met

2. Just turn off bluetooth on the watch. That's essentially the same thing with a different name.
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gfz

I'd love to see some relatively easy to use software for developing your own watchfaces, also I'd be really happy to pay for a slightly more rugged housing (something g-shock like - almost like an otterbox).

Oh - and the ability to control music tracks from the Runkeeper app
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ronbsmith

gfz, Glance for Pebble is awesome for developing your own watchfaces if you are on an android device, and for music, check out Music Boss, its a replacement for the built in music controller that does support a ridiculous number of music apps.
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ku88

I really like my Pebble, but there are a few things that would make it even better. These aren't really complaints, but in the spirit of discussion, below are a few suggestions/ideas:

1. I'd like the option to change the screen backlight timeout. The screen darkens after about 3 seconds...always before I'm ready.

2. I wish the screen brightness was adjustable. Mine is a little too dim, even when lit.

3. I'd like to be able to rearrange the order of the screen items. Music is always listed first, but I access notifications 1000x more often than music. This might seem minor, but scrolling EVERY time to jump past Music to access notifications is a little cumbersome.

4. EMail notification simply alerts me than an email has arrived. I wish I could see the sender, subject, and scroll at least a few lines to decide if I need to reach for my phone. If this feature is available, I haven't found out how.

5. I wish the screen orientation could be flipped. As a lefty, I'm always forced to scroll with my thumb instead of my index finger. I'm not asking for an accelerometer, or for this to be automatic, just for the option to change this in settings.

6. Shake-to feature is a little difficult. I have to really jolt my wrist to make it activate.
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PhilipL

switch the left button to the bottom, and the charging area to the top.. the designers should have thoroughly tested the interface.. button at bottom much easier for left & right handers.. right thumb or left forefinger.. rookie mistake.
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sm007hie

I'm thinking it's more of a Moto X thing than Pebble, but when I get corporate email on the built-in Android app, I will get constantly notified about the same emailemail until I clear it from my notification bar. I don't see that problem with the gmail app or others (like Sol or K9), but those don't support Exchange natively and we don't enable IMAP/POP (a $20 remedy in Touchdown isn't worth it to me, either). And it does it with the Pebble app, Pebblify, and Pebble Notifier, which makes me further believe it's the phone. Really, that's about my only gripe about it.
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RMD

My issue would be the font and screen size, I'm in the over 40 club. It strains my eyes to read the screen sometimes!
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2H

A means to clear past notifications would be good. At this moment I think it is a bit of a security issue where anyone can get to this info without password or PIN (when the watch is e.g. charging).
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cagell

WhatsApp integration is pretty poor. I just get notifications that there is a message but cannot read it. There used to be a developer that provided an app to do that but it was forced to go down by either Pebble or WhatsApp. I would really like to have that integration in the wrist.

Also looking forward to get Spritz or similar speed reading on the pebble.
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Met

I prefer to use Pebble Notifier to push my WhatsApp notifications. It does a better job.
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josephshambrook

Definitely would improve the reliability with connecting to my phone. It's an iPhone though, so my Pebble has to have some slack cut for it considering Apple can be such tight-asses about their software. It's pretty annoying to have to go through the cycle of turning off Bluetooth on my phone or restarting my Pebble to reconnect.

Otherwise, only other complaint is the charger, which is also too unreliable.
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okand

I would remove the logo from the front of the Pebble Steel.
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sevitale

I have to admit, I love this watch, it is far away from perfect but it is a pleasure to wear and to use.
The only serious problem that I have with the Pebble it is losing the bluetooth connection, it happens quite often and I have to start over and over again with pairing. I would love a bigger battery life, but in comparison with other smart watches is heaven. All in all a great beginning, it feels a little bit like the first ipod, great with lot of potential. Now what we need, is to wait where this journey will take us.
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macdonnie2u2

I have had some issues with the API. Specifically sending messages between pebble and the phone. A bunch of the messages drop and I have had to write code to retry sending messages several times. Also if you try to execute a java script function twice it can cause the JavaScript to crash and restart.

Also my screen keeps displaying lines across it. I can only clear them by backing back to the a watch face. The lines seem to be getting worse... Difficult to develop when you can't see the screen always. I keep hoping that the issue will go away, but it hasn't...

All that being said the people at pebble seem active and really do care about constant improvement of their product. Even with all my troubles the pebble smartwatch is the best purchase I have made all year! Highly recommend it. Also I scratch everything I wear, however, I have yet to scratch the watch. It is a rather durable watch.
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Met

The issue with the lines on the screen is not an uncommon one. It happened to me with my first Pebble, but I messaged them with a couple of pictures of it and they simply asked for my address to send me a new one. This new one doesn't get the lines and seems smoother/more responsive.
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pbreitz

I'd love to have a microphone and dedicated record button to help with quick voice memos. I don't really want a speaker to go with it though - I don't see a wrist-phone as a usable device, and I certainly don't want my watch beeping at me.
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nerk

I stopped using my Pebble on day 1 because it got scratched within the first hour. They refused to repair or replace the device. I wear watches everyday and have never scratched one this badly before, so I'm confident it was not my fault. So yea, I'd make the glass not so damn easily scratchable.

And I'd make the band that it comes with more comfortable, but thats not nearly as big a deal as above.

If I had more of a chance to use it I would be able to comment on features/software, but I got fed up pretty quick.
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zackplanet42

All you need is a little bit of Polywatch. Its under $10 and in nearly no time the peble will look good as new. Its the same stuff they say to use on Omega Speedmaster crystals. I like that the original Pebble went without gorilla glass. Its waaay more difficult to remove scratches in a hard material than a nice soft plastic.
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macdonnie2u2

I can't scratch mine. It has held up better than any other watch I have ever own.
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josephshambrook

Same, my Pebble has made it through some pretty strong knocks and scrapes, and only has a couple of minor scratches to show for it. Either @nerk is being too unforgiving or he got majorly unlucky.
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Friendly0Fire

Frankly, my biggest peeve would probably be with the hardware. I think the screen was a very smart choice, but the buttons I despise. They're too mushy and approximate, I keep having to press them multiple times because I didn't push hard enough. The screen could also use some gorilla glass for durability.

Apart from that, I'll echo others who mentioned that the new Pebble application on Android is pretty subpar. It's pretty, but it's really laggy and often unintuitive.
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sm007hie

Pebble Steel to care of the mushy buttons and added Gorilla Glass. It's just too bad that original backers didn't get a price break on them ($250 is a bit rich for me to upgrade the look, basically).

Same with the Android app here, too.
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sametjan

My biggest complaint is the lack of extended character sets. I get a ton of work emails in Russian and Japanese, and seeing only empty boxes defeats the purpose of notifications on my wrist.
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pcairic

Chinese.
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2t

No Arabic support
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Met

I forgot about this point! It is frustrating when I get Arabic messages and just see squares on my watch. -.-
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saimin

How can I display Google Now notifications on my Pebble?
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rootbeerfloat

Use an app like Pebblify. You can have any notification that hits the notification shade sent to your watch, blacklist apps or specific types of notifications from being sent, and so on...
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