New Pebble update allows watches to keep working once online servers go dark

One of the biggest questions for Pebble owners following the company’s acquisition by Fitbit last year has been how long their watches would keep working going forward. And while Pebble had announced at the time that Fitbit would be “going out of its way” to keep the smartwatch platform’s software and services running through 2017, there hasn’t been much news of what would happen past that point, especially given that a fair portion of Pebble’s software is cloud based.

To help address those issues, Pebble released an update this week that decouples the smartwatches from their dependency on cloud services, meaning that whenever Pebble’s servers do shut down, users will still be able to side load apps and new firmware to their smartwatches.

It’s not a perfect fix, and there are still plenty of answered questions. Features like dictation, messaging, and weather, for example, are all based on cloud services, and Pebble still hasn’t commented on whether or not it’s found a way to keep those working for users going forward. Still, at least Pebble fans will be able to continue to use the basic features of their watches, even as the rest of Pebble is absorbed into Fitbit.

In related news, along with the independence from online servers, the latest update also notes that the options to contact customer support or to request new features have both been removed from the Pebble companion app.

Comments

To be honest the smartwatch so far was and still is a failure. Tries to justify its existence but in the end you still end up taking out your phone, not to mention the annoying fact that you have to charge it daily.

It lets me sit in class and still receive notifications without pulling my phone out to see if its important. Worth it for me.

Also I can make it have a star trek computer interface.

Did you even own one? I never had to charge any of mine daily. Other than checking the time and some notifications It wasn’t supposed to replace using a smartphone.

I think you’re talking about the Apple Watch.

My Pebble lasts a whole week before needing a charge, and I get notifications (with vibration) all day.

I’ve had a smart watch for two years now and my experience with it is the exact opposite. I use my phone less because of it and since I don’t want my wrist buzzing every ten-seconds it’s made me reduce/tailor my notifications much more than I did with my phone. It charges on my nightstand while it acts as my alarm clock (allowing me to keep my phone in the other room and preventing temptation to go online instead of sleep). Putting it on the first thing I do as soon as my feet hit the floor and taking it off and charging it in nightstand mode is last thing I do before I pull the covers over.

It’s not trying to justify anything – it’s been one of the most reliable pieces of gear I’ve had to the point that I feel naked without it. If for some reason my routine is broken and I forget it – I’ll purposely go back for it even if I have my phone.

how do you reduce notifications from people who text you or is it just app notifications you turn off? If you’re on an Apple watch do you just mute certain people and check on them less often?

That’s exactly it. For instance, I turned off Notifications for Facebook, messenger, twitter and certain messages conversations for my watch— that way I’m not tempted to run to my phone when my watch vibrates. When I DO decide to pick up my phone, THEN I can deal with them; but because I use my watch so heavily, it really puts them on a second their of importance. The first few days I remember being a bit of an adjustment but it’s been amazing — and dare I say, freeing — ever since.

I’m the same way. I just moved and somehow misplaced my Pebble charger. I’m devastated.

Nope. I charge my Pebble once a week or so. It has drastically reduced the number of times I have to look at my phone.

To be honest, you’re only stating your opinion, even if you tried to frame it as a fact.

I’m so sad. I thought Pebble would keep up.
The terrible battery life of modern smartwatches don’t seem to worry the common user.
Maybe is because these consumers are from that weird timeframe in which people stopped using wristwatches and kept constantly checking their phone screens to get the time.
They don’t care about having to take their watches off to charge them every single night.
Sigh.

Do you wear your watch to bed? I’ve worn watches since I was about 12 and every night I would take it off and put it on my bedside table. The only difference now is it sits on its side and still shows me the time and works as an alarm clock for the morning. So not only is it more useful on my wrist than any of my other watches, it’s also super useful at night off my wrist whilst charging.

No idea about OP, but I’ve always worn my watch to bed. I’ve worn a watch as far back as I can remember, at least I know I’ve worn one since elementary school. They were always water resistant too, so I’d sometimes wear them in the shower as well.

After smartwatches started to come to market, I realized there were a lot of situations where it would be really useful to have one. Especially for times when I wanted to read a notification but couldn’t easily or safely access my phone. But as someone who always wore one, the idea of having to take the watch off every night just seemed stupid, especially when Pebble was offering 7+ days of battery life for the same thing. Which is exactly why I loved the idea of the Pebble and bought one. I wanted a watch that was like a watch, not a watch that was like a phone. I don’t need to look at pictures or make phone calls from my wrist, I just want to see the time and date and notifications without pulling out my phone. And having weather right on the watch face is great too. (The face I’m using pulls a temperate and precipitation graph from Dark Sky, so at least I don’t need to worry about that not working since it doesn’t rely on Pebble’s weather)

One my co-workers has had a few different Android wear watches, and when he went on vacation outside the US last year he didn’t even bother to bring a watch because he didn’t want to have to deal with charging it every day. Whereas with my Pebble, I’ve gone on vacation multiple times and never brought a charge cable with me because I knew the watch would last the entire time and I wouldn’t need to charge it. (I currently use the Pebble Time Steel, which is rated at 10 days. I’ve never actually gone long enough to see if it can make it 10 days, I usually charge every Sunday, but I have forgotten multiple times and it still has about 20% left on Monday if I forget.)

It does track sleep and does a reasonable job at it, so the fact that I wear it at night isn’t completely wasted. Also, the Pebble is a really great option to use as an alarm clock, because it’ll vibrate on your wrist and silently wake you up without anyone else hearing something.

Long post, but my point was that I’m one of those weird people who does wear a watch all the time, and the reason I bought a Pebble and still use it because it was the closest experience to what I had always done. I hope there’s eventually a comparable alternative. Garmin apparently makes something somewhat comparable, but not with the level of developer openness that Pebble had.

Just to be clear; I absolutely never said wearing a watch to bed was weird. I was genuinely just asking the question
I travel a lot and always bring my Apple watch with me. If I turn it off at night, I get 3 days of use, sometimes more. However, I usually also travel with an Sony A7Rii, MacBook, iPad, Kindle, Wireless headphones, blah blah… Charging isn’t an issue for me, its part of my life and I’m well prepared for it haha

I wear mine to bed because its a great way to have a smart-alarm wake up and not disturb your partner. Also sleep tracking. Tis the Pebble life – I know other Smartwatches can’t really offer that.

The best thing about Pebble in my use has been the alarm. I use Gentle Wake, absolutely the most pleasant wake up experience I’ve ever had. Feels like someone gently nudging you to wake you up (progressively gets firmer, I’ve never gotten to the level of discomfort). Never wore a watch to bed before, doesn’t negate the great experience of doing so now.

…all that said, I still wouldn’t recommend a Pebble to anyone. Just pointing out there’s a use case for wearing a smartwatch to bed.

I wore a Pebble for almost 2 years. I was very critical of the Apple Watch battery life before getting one as a gift. Frankly in practice, the battery isn’t even a slight concern.

I’m so glad to hear this. Pebble was always about the community around the watch, not the company. I’ve loved my Pebble since I got it two years ago and was sad to hear they would be closing down. But this update makes it possible for the (avid) dev community to keep going strong.

Sorry, Casio SGW-500H. Back into retirement with you (until my next camping trip)!

Glad to hear this! I bought my pebble round probably 3 months before the buyout by fitbit so I was gutted to think that it would be gimped after such a short life

"and there are still plenty of answered questions" – I’d be more worried about the unanswered ones…

The Verge’s proofreading in recent weeks and months is getting so bad.

Have had a Pebble Time for a year, and my initial love for it quickly faded as it continuously loses the bluetooth connection with my phone (so no weather or other apps), randomly resets itself and loses all its settings/faces, has difficulty pairing (usually takes 2-3 attempts). It also doesn’t track my sleep accurately. The only thing it’s consistently done well is notifications – which is the main thing I need it for anyway, and therefore its saving grace. But I’ve been seriously disappointed.

Sounds like there’s something specifically wrong with yours. I’ve also had a Time for about a year and it’s never had any of those issues except maybe the sleep tracking inaccuracy. That’s probably a software issue that will sadly never get fixed now.

Same. The Bluetooth on my Time Steel is frustratingly inconsistent. And the app crashes/fails to sync more than it doesn’t. Pebble was a good idea with poor execution. I’m sad to say that because I had so much hope.

I had bluetooth issues with my the Time Steel too, but the notifications were so useful I bought a Time Round … and it’s worked perfectly. Could just be luck or could be they fixed something, but either way I suppose it doesn’t matter now. ._.

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