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Pebble smartwatches could be kept alive by an unofficial developer group called Rebble

Pebble smartwatches could be kept alive by an unofficial developer group called Rebble

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Pebble’s online services will officially die at the end of this month, but some could live on through Rebble, an unofficial group of Pebble users who are trying to keep their watches alive.

Rebble initially popped up after Pebble said in 2016 that it would cease operations and be acquired by Fitbit. Now that Fitbit is weeks away from shutting down Pebble’s remaining services, Rebble is promoting an unofficial replacement system that’s meant to keep the majority of Pebble’s internet-connected functions alive. Former Pebble employee Katharine Berry is spearheading the effort, and it’s received an endorsement from Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky.

Rebble’s plan to save Pebble watches mostly relies on hosting its own servers that re-create the lost functions. Users and app developers will have to redirect their software to Rebble’s servers, and Berry assures users that things won’t look too different once the servers are switched. Apps can still be installed, notifications will still come through, and watchfaces will still work for the most part.

There’s still the question of how well Rebble will work once it does go live, and Rebble knows for sure that some of the functions will definitely be a bit different. Pebble’s Timeline, for example, relied on multiple servers that allowed notifications to get pushed to people’s watches. The Rebble team will alter those apps wherever possible, but some of them might not be functional immediately after the update. Timeline updates will also become slower: rather than immediate updates, Rebble will update the timeline every 15 minutes.

Rebble will definitely be a bit different

Because this is an unofficial project — and sever costs (and development work) isn’t cheap — some previously free services, like Weather and Dictation, will require some sort of fee after the update. For the users who don’t donate, the system’s Weather app and Timeline pins, which mark sunrise and sunset, won’t appear. (Third-party watchfaces will continue to display the weather without interruption, however.) Users who choose not to pay for dictation, meanwhile, will get an error message when they try to speak into their watch.

Rebble web services aren’t open to the public yet, but those who want to create an account on the site can do so here.