Pebble watch initial thoughts

I ponied up $115 to Kickstarter on April 23, 2012 for the Pebble ($150 now). It was expected to ship in September. Here we are just about one month shy of a year and the Pebble watch finally sits snugly fastened to my wrist. :-)

It’s definitely on the large side, but not overly so. The picture makes it look way bigger than it really is. It seems very durable and you can swim or take it in the shower. It charges with a magnetically connecting USB cable and the battery should last 5-7 days. It’s also supposed to reduce your phone’s battery life by about 5-10% and I would say that it’s closer to 10%, if not over–not a good thing for the wimpy iPhone 5 battery.

So what does it do? Well, it will display Caller ID, email, SMS, iMessage, calendar alerts, Facebook messages, Twitter, and weather alerts. It also has an alarm and timer. There is no sound, only vibration.

Note that if you’ve got, say, the Message app open, it doesn’t push to the Pebble–only notifications (e.g., banner or lock screen) appear. You can scroll through the text using the side buttons. The ePaper display is very readable even in direct sun and low light–it has a nice backlight.

There are several watch faces you can select from, but I’ve found that I prefer the analog ones. I think I’m always trying to determine how much time I have until a meeting, lunch or some other event, and the analog face gives me that info quickly at a glance.

They are working on the SDK so there should be some cool apps coming in the future.

The main issue I’ve been having is that the connection with the iPhone is not very smooth. First, it doesn’t always automatically reconnect via Bluetooth. The other thing is that when it gets disconnected, you usually have to toggle the notification settings on the iPhone. Otherwise, the notifications won’t get pushed.

The good news is the Pebble crew is aware of these issues and I expect these kinks will be worked out soon with future firmware updates. For now, the trick is to not let it get out of Bluetooth range.

I gotta admit, it’s pretty cool to just glance at your watch to see whose calling, texting or emailing you. If you pocket your phone a lot, this is pretty handy. I’m more than happy that I took a leap of faith in ordering the Pebble.

UPDATES:
2013-03-21 – I’m getting maybe two days of battery life which is well short of the expected 5-7 days. Also, a couple times Siri stopped working and the only thing that seemed to fix it was to reboot the iPhone.

Taking Spotify for a spin

I finally discovered that Spotify has a Billboard Hot 100 playlist and I’m liking it a lot. (I’ve been looking for this for years btw!) It seems to update every Thursday. I hate the commercials and inane talking on Top-40 radio, so this gets me the latest tunes without the crap. Missing from the Billboard playlist are things like last week’s position, weeks on chart, etc. which would be nice, but now I’m just being greedy ;-)

So now I can pick out new stuff, add it to my favorites playlist and automatically sync them to my iPhone and iPad. Quick and simple, and only $10 a month. Note that you can try the premium service for free for 30 days. Of course, you can use the free service, but it’s a pretty limited service on mobile devices. I’m a long-time user of Rhapsody, but I’m always game to try something new.

I do wish that one of these subscription services would do a DJ-hosted stream where the DJ actually talks about the music and artists. That would be awesome, especially commercial free!