Pebble today announced an expansion of the voice control features in its Pebble Time line of smartwatches that allows iPhone users to reply to incoming messages from their wrist. Replies can be dictated by voice or selected from a set of preset responses. The Pebble Time has had this feature for Android devices for some time, but this is a first for when it's used with an iPhone.
Due to the way that iOS restricts third-party accessories and doesn't allow them the same access to messages as the Apple Watch, Pebble's solution is to route the responses directly through the wireless carrier instead of through the iPhone's Messages app. That means that the feature is only available to AT&T post-paid customers right now, and that messages sent from the Pebble watch will not show up in the messaging app on the iPhone. (It also means that replies to iMessages will be sent as SMS messages, so the recipient will see a green bubble instead of blue.) The feature also does not currently work with group messages. Pebble says it is working on support for other carriers, but it is not providing a timeline for when it will be available.
Messages are routed through the wireless carrier, not the iPhone
Adding the option to reply to messages from the watch addresses one of the biggest limitations of using a Pebble (or any non-Apple smartwatch) with an iPhone and potentially makes the device much more useful. Though the Time still doesn't have as many options to take action on notifications from an iPhone as it does on Android, quick message replies are one that many people find useful on a smartwatch.
Pebble says that the message reply feature is available to anyone with a Pebble Time, Time Steel, or Time Round and an iPhone on AT&T starting today.