Category Archives: Pebble

Video

The *best* smartwatch app (Android): Augmented Smartwatch Pro

Video description: Shows how Augmented Smartwatch Pro v 4.0 makes the Pebble watch even better. Note that app supports Pebble, Sony Smartwatch, and Metawatch.

My Take:

I’ve been using the Augmented Smartwatch Pro Android app with my smartwatches over the past few weeks. It extends smartwatch capabilities in such a useful way that I consider it a “must have” app.

Here’s how I’m using it with my Sony Smartwatch — it’s highly configurable so you can set it up to best fit how you use your smartwatch:

  • The “All other notifications” section lists nearly every app on my Note II, and based on my selections, Augmented Smartwatch Pro pushes notifications for Carbon for twitter @ messages and my Conscious app mindfulness reminders.
  • I recently learned about its robust Fitbit daily data support, and now can see how long I slept, how many steps I’ve taken, calories, etc., displayed in charts (!) on my Sony Smartwatch. For a fitbit data geek, this is nirvana!
  • It periodically pushes Wunderground weather info, including rain alerts (requires user to obtain a wunderground api)
  • I can also configure Augmented Smartwatch Pro’s quiet time settings to ensure I don’t receive smartwatch notifications during the night.

What I’ve listed above barely brushes the surface of the functionality the app brings to smartwatch use. I highly recommend it. The developer is both responsive and very experienced in writing smartwatch-related apps.

There’s a free version available, too. Strongly suggest going ahead and getting the Pro version — as smartwatch users, it’s in our best interest to support active, hard-working smartwatch app developers!

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Metawatch vs Pebble vs Sony Smartwatch observations

Pebble macbookair

I recently received the Pebble watch I’d ordered via Kickstarter. Using the Pebble got me wondering what other smart watches were like. So, I picked up a few more to check them out — my experience is based on using these watches paired with my Android (Note II) phone.

Spoiler: The watch I liked best was the one I’d expected to like the least!

Metawatch

metawatch.jpeg

I picked up a metawatch “Frame,” which has a lovely Apple-esque appearance (especially the white version) and a silvery grey-scale TFT screen. Metawatch also has a “Strata” design which is similar (in appearance) to sport watches on the market. Here’s my take on the Metawatch Frame:

  • Metawatch describes the screen as 96×96 pixel sunlight-readable, reflective mirror display (Polymer Network LCD technology)
  • Easy to read in bright sunlight; much harder to read in low, ambient light
  • I found it confusing to set up: There is an official Metawatch app in Android market, and then some open source apps with much higher ratings — the only catch is that the open source apps don’t appear to completely support the latest metawatch firmware (1.3) for each hardware rev.
  • Due to the compatibility issues noted above, i was unable to use the six hardware buttons for their secondary functions. I also noticed the watch seemed to freeze up when receiving notifications (I believe this is a resolvable software/firmware issue, but frustrating nonetheless).
  • As a consumer device, the Metawatch app/widget ecosystem seems limited (at least for Android; may be better for iOS).
  • Uses a clip-design USB charger which I found challenging to get seated properly on the watch.
  • Battery life seemed quite good.
  • I loved the MetaNeko app where a cute kitty plays on the screen.
  • While the hardware and screen are lovely, I found the physical size of the watch bigger than I feel comfortable wearing (especially at the office).
  • Watch functionality is mainly focused on providing notifications from your smartphone.

Pebble

Rather than repost my initial impressions about the Pebble and its e-paper display, here’s a link to last week’s Pebble post.

Sony SmartWatch

Sony smartwatch

The Sony SmartWatch was the only smartwatch I tested that had a color screen. It’s been out a while but didn’t seem to get very good reviews from established tech writers — owner-users seems to rate it higher. My impressions:

  • The OLED screen is bright and colorful except in bright sunlight. In bright light, it’s very difficult to read as it seems to fade out. (I’m guessing a non glare screen cover may help here.)
  • Sony indicates the watch dimensions are 36 mm / 1.42 in x 36 mm / 1.42 in, thickness: 8 mm / 0.3 in
  • While the watch is smaller and less obtrusive than I expected, it has a built-in clip on the back that you can attach to clothing, or using an included adapter, attach to your own watch band. That clip makes it sit higher on your wrist, and the fact that the clip is white (against the metal watch) makes it stand out all the more.
  • There are a lot of Sony SmartWatch apps in the Android play market, some from Sony and others from third-party developers. Everything I’ve tried so far has worked well, no freezes or other odd behavior.
  • Unlike Metawatch and Pebble, I believe the Sony SmartWatch only pairs with Android phones — I don’t think it’s iOS compatible.
  • Unlike Metawatch and Pebble, Sony SmartWatch has a greater focus on onboard apps (vs simply displaying smartphone notifications). This enhanced functionality made the Sony SmartWatch extremely useful for me — there are times I want to reference information on my phone but don’t feel comfortable pulling out my phone. Being able to casually glance at my watch to flick through my twitter stream has been super handy, especially as someone who uses twitter to keep up with breaking news events.
  • The colorful screen eats up battery much more quickly than the other two grey-scale display smart watches. Still, it’s lasted throughout the day even with a variety of notifications enabled (including full sync of my twitter account each hour).

My favorite of the three smart watches?

The Sony SmartWatch

I’ve found the greatest utility (for me) in a smartwatch isn’t the notifications but rather easy accessibility to data that’s otherwise on my phone (e.g., my gmail inbox, calendar, twitter stream). The Sony SmartWatch offered the greatest utility in this regard since the other smart watches I tried both focus more on displaying notifications. And interestingly enough, it’s also the most affordable (currently offered on Amazon at about $90).

Pebble Notifier (Android): Now even better!

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I learned today that Pebble Notifier has been updated to version 2.5. Among other improvements, it now attempts to send even more information to Pebble than just notification text.

Example: With Carbon for Twitter included in my Pebble Notifier list it now sends both the notification and if I scroll down when the notification appears on my Pebble, the @mention text is also displayed. Cool!

I already love my Pebble (see my initial impressions). It’s fun seeing Pebble functionality evolve via third-party developers!

hello, pebble: initial impressions

Pebble

In April 2012, I contributed to a kickstarter project for the Pebble watch. It was a new product that would allow the wearer to link the watch to their iOS or android phone and receive a variety of notifications. Because the watch face itself is software based, the user could select from different watch faces rather than having just one standard display.

Fast forward to February 2013: My Pebble watch arrived yesterday!

Having had a day to play with my new Pebble, here are some initial impressions:

  • It’s lighter and thinner than expected
  • The epaper display is bright and easy to read in ambient light
  • I’ve only needed to use the backlight at night — it’s not super bright but does illuminate the display well enough
  • It’s large but not as large as I’d feared
  • It’s very easy to pair with the Pebble android app
  • The watch band is soft & flexible

Before my Pebble arrived, I’d already installed the Pebble android app. Because the official Pebble app currently has a limited set of notification in settings (incoming calls, SMS, calendar reminders, email, Google Talk, Google Voice, Facebook, WhatsApp) I looked online and found there are more android apps to extend Pebble integration:

While email notifications work well using the native Pebble android app, I found them distracting and turned them off. Note to Gmail two-step authentication users: You’ll need to set up an app-specific password in order to receive Gmail on your Pebble watch.
 
Samsung phone owners need to be aware that due to an apparent Samsung firmware bug, enabling the Pebble in their accessibility settings also turns on Talkback for some phone functions. Example: Now whenever I open a folder, my Note II (audibly) says “The folder is open.” I’m not hearing text to speech across the board, just in some limited instances. If it bothers you, you can try this fix (I just tried it, and it worked on my Verizon Note II):  http://www.productigeeky.com/faq/#1
 
I’d love to see a battery % status display on the watch (or within the Pebble android app). Even so, I love my Pebble and look forward to seeing additional functionality and integration enabled as developers get up and rolling.

Edited to add: Here’s a good video by The Verge that shows Pebble watch in use.