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April 12, 2013

Pebble: Review and Outlook

by Andreas Schaefer

A few weeks back I received the highly anticipated Pebble Watch which I backed through Kickstarter. Since then I am using it all the time even though Pebble is not yet living up to its own promises. On the other hand I have a lot of respect for the Pebble team and what they accomplished so far. To have so much success and then deliver is not easy and requires a lot of work as well as business skills to just survive the onslaught.
Later I heard Dan Bejamin from 5By5 giving a review of the Pebble on Amplified #51 and I was a little disappointed by Dan’s comments because they sounded more like a spoiled brat rather than an adult even though being a spoiled brat seems to be much of the mantra lately in the tech press. For me a comment like I want more is treating the Pebble team like Apple, Google or Samsung but the reality is that Pebble does not have a multi-million R&D budget where it can just hire a bunch of developers to push the development. This is the bleeding-edge of technology and so we need to ask ourselves if we could do it better.

The Good

That said I think the watch should be reviewed and should voice our expectations so that we can push the technology forward. So this is what I liked about the Pebble Watch:

  • Many different Watchfaces which can be easily exchanged.
  • Vibrating on incoming Call or SMS. This way I will never miss a call.
  • Easy to manage music. This is nice when I have my Bluetooth Headset on and I can pause the music right away.
  • Waterproof
  • Magnet-Connected USB Charging Cable. Easily to Connect.

The Bad

Many of the bad items are things that I think will be solved soon and otherwise might need creative thinking due to limitation with iOS.

  • No Battery Indicator except the Battery is Low or when it is fully charged
  • Magnet-Connected USB Cable does easily disconnect and this is hard to discover
  • Battery Charge lasts less than 7 days.
  • No Apps so far (Golf, Biking etc).
  • Email Notification is not working for me.


For example the battery indicator does not have to be on watch per se but I could be placed on the Pebble App instead. I also would like to receive a Notification on my iPhone when the Pebble watch disconnects from the Charging Cable and also when the Pebble is fully charged. Another thing I would like is to be able to call one of my favorite phone numbers. I know you can do this with Siri but my English accent does not go well with Siri and most of the time I cam better off taking my phone out and select the number manually. Another think I would like it to use my Pebble together with a Gym Log App where I can use the Pebble to see what is the next exercise / machine, the weight and let me know when to start the next repetition and tell the App when it is over.


Yes, the marketing of Pebble was and still is way ahead of the gadget. On the other hand this is a gadget by a small team and until there is another gadget like this is out we cannot compare it. Pebble is released early, maybe too early, but this has more to do with the funding through Kickstarter, its overwhelming success and the ensuing balancing act between initial success, demand after release and how to mange the business. The Pebble team could have hired a lot of additional people but that would have drained their reserve making it difficult to react to competitors. So I think that the Pebble team decided to focus on the SDK to advance the Watch rather than to create a few Apps even if that meant the Watch looks now limited.

— Andy

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