Discussion about
DanCooper

April 11th 2014 3:51 am

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
rootbeerfloat

I'd like the ability to change system settings via the API. I'd want to set up something via Tasker to turn on or off the vibration in the watch depending on location or other criteria.
2 like dislike
macdonnie2u2

I could use the same.
0 like dislike
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.
2 like dislike
Met

I forgot about this point! It is frustrating when I get Arabic messages and just see squares on my watch. -.-
1 like dislike
2t

No Arabic support
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pcairic

Chinese.
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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.
2 like dislike
TgD

If the pebble could improve anything, it would have been that it could have had 100% reliability.

When notifications are not appearing on the pebble, it just becomes a glorified watch
1 like dislike
Riemers

I loose connection too often. Same for watchfaces that have interaction with the phone (weather status) always get an icon that it cant find my phone. Switch watch face and its working again..
1 like dislike
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.
1 like dislike
okand

I would remove the logo from the front of the Pebble Steel.
1 like dislike
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.
1 like dislike
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.
1 like dislike
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.
1 like dislike
Met

I've used a Pebble for about a year now. The only thing I ever thought of has recently been implemented, which is a way to check past notifications.
0 like dislike
carancha

Actually, as of Pebble OS 2.0, you can check past notifications! All you do is go to the main menu and scroll down to 'Notifications'. That's it!
1 like dislike
Met

Yeah, I said that it had "recently been implemented."
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carancha

Oops, totally misread that! My bad
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danjohns7

I'm crazy about my Pebble. However, I'd like a few more sensors in it, and for them to be accessible without having a specific app open. For example, I'd like more fitness-based activity tracking equipment, so my Pebble can count steps, elevation, etc. like a FitBit. I wouldn't mind buying a separate device, but don't want to wear 2 simultaneously.
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macdonnie2u2

Agree with this. I believe there are some beta apps that are experimenting with this. The phone would be a master on Bluetooth and the pebble/heart rate monitor would be slave. I believe that this only works for phones with the newest type of Bluetooth technology. Nexus 5 and newest I phone for instance.
0 like dislike
jwkicklighter

I love my Pebble and don't really have much to complain about. My too biggest issues:
  1. Android support. The Pebble team could really use some better Android developers. Version 2.0 of the app has been subpar at best, and completely unusable at worst. I really think it's just because the Pebble team is mostly filled with iOS people.
  2. Storage space. I find the 8 app limit a bit restricting at times when I want to have an app installed for a very specific/rare use case. If I could fit 10-12 apps, that would be much better (or if apps and watchfaces didn't take up the same 8 slots). Adding the locker to version 2.0 of the app has helped, but as I said above... The app is a bit buggy. And it's still a pain to have to pull out my phone and change around apps. Kind of ruins the whole convenience part.
For the most part, I love my Pebble. It allows me to stop repeatedly check my phone for notifications (my phone is often on silent) because I'm confident that the notifications which I have taught Pebble Notifier are "important" will alert me with a small vibrate at the wrist.
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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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saimin

Does that work with Google Now?
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sm007hie

Google Now shows up as "Google Search" in Pebblify and Pebble Notifier (I prefer Pebblify, but YMMV). Like rootbeerfloat said, you can pick out which notifications from individual apps to show or blacklist, which is really handy with Now, otherwise you'll get random card updates frequently on your watch that you get annoyed with ("I know it's 74 degrees, you just told me 4 minutes ago!").
0 like dislike
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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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.
0 like dislike
Met

I prefer to use Pebble Notifier to push my WhatsApp notifications. It does a better job.
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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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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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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.
0 like dislike
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
0 like dislike
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.
0 like dislike
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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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
0 like dislike
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.
0 like dislike
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.
0 like dislike
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.
1 like dislike
JCDwight

Thanks! I'll check that out!
0 like dislike
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