Fitbit said in a blog post today that it was extending support for Pebble smartwatches until June of this year, which is another way of saying that support for Pebble will come to its inevitable conclusion in June.
RIP Pebble, but for real this time. Pebble will soon become less of a smart timepiece and more of a relic of a time when Kickstarter projects were successful and scrappy startups could claim a slice of the smartwatch market.
Many of Pebble’s features will be sunset, including Pebble’s App Store, the Pebble forum, the Pebble cloud development tool, voice recognition features, and SMS and email replies.
There are some caveats to the Pebble wind-down. Pebble’s main mobile apps for iOS and Android will continue to work for now, though compatibility could be broken with future iOS and Android OS updates. Notifications — one of a smartwatch’s core functions — will still work as long as those apps work, a spokesperson for Fitbit confirmed.
Notifications will continue to work... as long as notifications work
Digital health company Fitbit acquired Pebble, an independent maker of open-sourced smartwatches, in December 2016. As disappointed as some early Pebble adopters were, the acquisition made sense, as I wrote then: Fitbit was in search of a wearable operating system for its upcoming smartwatch, so that it could compete with the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches, and Pebble was struggling financially.
Fitbit had assured Pebble fans and app developers that it would keep Pebble smartwatches going for a period of time, despite not having acquired any of Pebble’s hardware assets. Today’s announcement puts a timestamp on that, with Fitbit saying that it would extend its support for the watches “for six more months, to June 30, 2018.”
Fitbit is pushing hard for users to transition over to its own smartwatches at this point. “During this time, we invite the Pebble community to explore how familiar highlights from the Pebble ecosystem are evolving on the Fitbit platform, from apps and clock faces to features and experiences,” the company wrote. Pebble watch owners will also get $50 off a Fitbit Ionic smartwatch. It’s not a bad of a deal for anyone who wants a Fitbit smartwatch, but it will feel like a small consolation prize for true Pebble fans.