If you've been on the Internet for the last month, you've probably heard of LeVar Burton's Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, which appealed directly to parents to bring the beloved reading-focused kid's program to the web. The campaign has just under six hours left, and at $5.1 million pledged, Burton & co. now have the resources available to meet their goal of bringing the upcoming experience to Android, as well as game consoles and set-top boxes.
Pebble fans have been faithfully following each step of the breakout smartwatch since it set almost every Kickstarter record ever. While most of the big news has died down, that doesn't mean the development team is on a break. To speed up the process of getting new features and bug fixes out to eager users, Pebble is opening up an official beta channel through the Play Store. These betas are technically for the Pebble companion app, but since the app also installs firmware updates on the watch, it's likely that you'll be able to get in on all of the new features.
The Pebble's software updates keep it slow and steady. Today's 2.2 firmware release doesn't rock the boat, but it introduces a few features that I'm sure fellow Pebble owners out there have wished for at some point or another. The first of which is the ability to reorder items in the launcher menu. Now if you hold the select button on an item in the menu, you can drop it somewhere else in the column.
Yesterday Pebble-wearing Android users gained the ability to control Pandora from their wrists. This was cool stuff for Pandora listeners, but now the brainy watch is getting an update that will affect all owners, regardless of their listening preferences. A 2.1 firmware upgrade is rolling out to devices via the Android companion app.
On the user-facing side, there's one standout new feature - the watch now has a menu entry for clearing your notification history.
Until Android Wear comes to consumers, Pebble is going to continue to have the most robust app ecosystem of any wearable device. Music Boss is a particularly impressive app for the Pebble. It connects to your phone to control music playback with the Pebble's built-in buttons. The most recent update streamlines the process a bit by properly detecting what's going on with the phone.
Music Boss is a robust way to control playback of various media apps via your Pebble or Pebble Steel smartwatch, and it was also one of the very first additions to the official Pebble app store. The tool is light-years ahead of the basic music player built into the Pebble, allowing users to launch and switch Android music apps, adjust volume, and integrate with more esoteric apps like Tasker.
The Pebble can handle plenty of functions thanks to a wide range of third-party apps, but interacting with messages typically remains a passive experience. Naturally, someone had to address this. Reqallable, an app that provides smartwatch wearers with the ability to respond to email and text messages without pulling out their phones, has added the Pebble to its list of supported devices.
That new smartwatch may not be the first platform that comes to mind when the urge comes to kill time gaming, but Pebble wants to change that. Today at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, the company announced three games that it's immediately making available for its smartwatch. The three titles - Mr. Runner, Icon Pop Quiz, and Hatchi - all come from different developers, and as you can see below, they're now just a tap away in the Pebble appstore.
Following last week's big update, the Pebble smartwatch now has a centralized app store where Android users can find nifty content for their monochromatic watch. What next? The team is kicking off the Pebble App Challenge, offering up $5,000 to the app developer who finishes first and a Pebble Steel for each of the top 16 finalists. Users get new apps, some developers get nice stuff, and we the public get to watch the action firsthand.
For Pebble owners, getting good apps and watchfaces has been akin to settling down in the Wild West. There are a handful of websites that do a good job of organizing content and making it easy to install via QR codes, and there's no way we can overlook the immensely useful Pebble apps app available in the Play Store, but these made things no less exciting when, back at this year's CES, the Pebble folks announced that a centralized app store was finally on its way.