Pebble is having a big day. A few hours after announcing their first retailer partnership with the omnipresent Best Buy, they've kicked out another software update for the smartwatch, which adds bugfixes and... well just bugfixes, and now the screen backlight flashes when you plug it into its charger to let you know that it's charging. More changes will become apparent when the next version of the Pebble Kit SDK is sent out.
After taking Kickstarter by storm, the Pebble smartwatch went on to become a real product. Hey, that's more than you can say for some Kickstarter campaigns. The backers have had their devices for a while now, and the time has come for Pebble to expand. First stop: Best Buy. The Pebble is going to be exclusive to Best Buy, at least for the time being.
You're probably aware, but the Pebble is a slick (kind of) smartwatch with an e-paper display.
Pebble smartwatch owners have been without a reliable way to receive notifications for Google instant messages since Hangouts was launched at Google I/O, at least if they rely on first-party solutions. Today's update to the official Pebble app changes that, with native support for the Hangouts app for both messages and video Hangout requests. If you've remained faithful to the older Google Talk app, it's still supported as well.
Other changes are sparse: the official changelog mentions only the standard stability tweaks and some developer-side improvements.
The Pebble Smartwatch's utility was somewhat limited when it launched, thanks to an API that only supported notifications and data going from your phone to the watch, not the other way around. The last update to the API fixed that, and now Pebble has at least some degree of control over a connected phone. Pebble Phone Ringer Switcher from noted developer Faruq Rasid is the first Pebble app we've seen take advantage of this, at least on the Play Store.
In our review of the Pebble SmartWatch, we only had two complaints about the software: a lack of apps, and a lack of utility. The second point stems from the fact that the Pebble can only receive alerts from your phone, and it can't send information back. Both issues have now been addressed by the Pebble SDK. Developers have been cranking away on watch apps for some time, but the latest SDK update adds AppMessage, a method of implementing bi-directional communication for Pebble.
There was one black spot on our mostly favorable review of the Pebble smartwatch: the music control app just didn't work on some phones. As stated in the review, that's probably got more to do with the phone in question than Pebble's software, since it worked just fine on two separate Nexus devices. Even so, the people at Pebble have been listening, and the latest update to the official app includes a music player selection feature.
Pushover, a "simple push notification service" that essentially allows web services, scripts, and a lot more to send notifications to your mobile device, got an update recently to version 1.6 (and soon after, 1.6.1), which brought on a couple more nifty features.
Namely, the update brings support for DashClock, the popular clock/information widget that has gained immense support in its first few weeks of existence. Now DashClock can show you how many Pushover notifications are waiting for you.
Last week we told you about Pebble Notifier, an app that allows Tasker to send updates to the Pebble smartwatch over Bluetooth. Developer Dattas Moonchaser has updated the plugin to a full, independent app: you no longer need Tasker to send updates to your watch. (You'll still need the official Pebble app.) As you probably know, while Tasker is an incredibly powerful piece of software, it's also very difficult to learn and master, so the update should make it useful for a larger percentage of Pebble owners.
We love Tasker. And we mostly love the Pebble Smartwatch. But there's no denying that the utility of the Pebble is somewhat limited - right now you get calls, emails, texts, Facebook, and a few more remote notifications. With the Pebble Notifier plugin for Tasker, the Swiss Army knife of Android apps can send alerts for anything and everything happening on your phone. It may be the single most useful thing that could happen to Pebble.
If there's one product from the last year that's managed to capture the attention of just about everyone in the tech arena, it's Pebble. Between the somewhat tenuous underdog status of all Kickstarter projects, a general swell in "wearable tech" interest, and months and months of frustrating delays, it's proven to be even better fodder for bloggers than speculative hardware backers. Finally, 8 months after being successfully funded (and four months after the initial ship date) I've got one sitting on my wrist.