Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Pebble Watch: First Impressions

I ran to my Best Buy store on Sunday, the day the Best Buy was slated to start selling the Pebble Watch. However, due to the holiday the week before, the shipping schedule was off and there were none yet in the store. However, the Best Buy employee assured me he would call me when they came in, and he did, and I was able to get one (of the two!) that arrived.

It is definitely a cool device. However, since there are not a lot of them out on the street yet, it is truly an early-adopter's dream! I had to work hard to learn how it worked and, more importantly, the best ways to make it work for me. 

The Pebble, for those of you that do not know, is a smartwatch that interfaces with your Android smartphone or iPhone via Bluetooth to provide notifications on your wrist. I would call it a pseudo-smartwatch since you cannot use it to send anything back. You can receive phone call info and SMS messages and you can control the music on your iPhone via the Pebble, set up to four reminder alarms, and, of course, change your clock face at will!

The Pebble watch has an e-ink display (like the original Kindles) and can be easily read in the sunlight. There is also a back-light for use in the dark and you can simply shake your wrist to make the light comes on.

Here is an unboxing video posted on Sunday from a user who has an Android device, but the set-up on the iPhone is pretty much the same.

It does not come with any real directions, probably because it is still a work in progress, but Pebble has information on their site to help you out. If you start searching for ideas, you might get confused between the Android phone owners and the iOS phone owners as to the capabilities of the watch. The new iPhone iOS 7 is going to allow notifications from third-party apps and to devices via Bluetooth which will be a boon for the iPhone/Pebble-owners crowd.

Here is the link to the user guide from the Pebble site: http://help.getpebble.com/customer/portal/articles/957384-pebble-user-guide

I started to use some workarounds with Pushover and IFTTT, which will work for some things, but once I realized, if I only had everything I wanted to be notified about sent to SMS, I could easily receive the updates on the Pebble.

Since I already had my Twitter direct messages sent via SMS, I asked Adam Bellow to send me a DM so I could see how that worked. He is too funny!

I wanted my iCal appointment reminders to go to my Pebble, but, as the iOS instructions for setting up notifications page states, that functionality is coming soon to the Pebble. 

However, I knew there had to be a way to make that happen and I searched "sending iCal reminders to SMS" and came up with this great workaround that totally makes sense-- just use the email equivalent of your mobile phone number (mobile phone number followed by @ mobile company designated address) and send the appointment reminder to that email address! Here are the instructions and it worked like a charm!

Another tip-- if you cannot get an app or watchface to install from your phone app, use the desktop, go to the site, download the .pbw files to yourself, and install them via the email app on your device. Pick them to open in the Pebble App.

Tip #3: You can make a QR code and put it as a watchface in your Pebble and you will always have your contact info ready to share! It needs to be 144x144 pixels.

Do you have a Pebble watch yet? Any ideas for use in the classroom?