Pebble is quietly becoming a much better smartwatch

Pebble smartwatches get detailed fitness tracking and new ways to send text messages.

If you previously wrote off Pebble smartwatches for their limited functionality, you might want to start paying attention again. The latest Pebble firmware adds new fitness- and sleep-tracking features, while also making it easier to send text messages from a paired iPhone.

On the fitness side, Pebble Time smartwatches can now automatically detect long walks and runs. From the Pebble Timeline, users can see how long the exercise lasted, how far they travelled, and how many calories they burned.

Sleep tracking is also getting better with a smart wakeup feature in Pebble’s Alarms app. Users who wear their watches to sleep can get buzzed during a light sleep cycle, up to 30 minutes before their scheduled wakeup time.

Both the sleep and fitness data now feed into detailed overviews in Pebble’s iOS and Android apps. A dedicated Pebble Health section provides graphs on daily, weekly, and monthly activity, along with detailed looks at individual exercises.

pebblehealthapp

As for text messaging, Pebble Time watches now have a “send text” app for paired iPhones, similar to the one that arrived on Android in February. This allows for either canned messages or voice dictation. Just one catch: You can only send text messages from an iPhone with AT&T or Verizon, as Pebble has made arrangements with those carriers to handle SMS directly. Apple’s restrictions on iOS don’t allow Pebble to tap into the iPhone’s Messages app.

Most of the new features are only available on the Pebble’s second-generation watches, which include the $150 Pebble Time, $250 Pebble Time Steel, and $200 Pebble Time Round. For original Pebble and Pebble Steel owners, the latest firmware adds the ability to respond to SMS or phones calls by text, but that’s about it.

Why this matters: Pebble is still the underdog of the smartwatch business, and has been going through tough times as venture funding dries up, but that hasn’t stopped the product from getting a lot more useful. In recent months, Pebble improved its sleep tracking (with nap support), added custom vibration patterns, allowed watch faces to show fitness data, and tied Pebble Health into Google Fit and Apple’s HealthKit systems. It’s starting to feel like a more complete smartwatch platform, and a fine alternative to heavyweights like the Apple Watch if you’d rather have long battery life (or a much slimmer design than most smartwatches) and an always-on display.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smart watchPebble

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

Macworld.com
Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?