Pebble 2 is Part Fitness Tracker, Part Smartwatch

I’m now a week into using the Pebble 2 and I’m a fan.  I’ve wanted to try Pebble’s next generation smartwatch for ages, and almost 100 days after my wife’s pre-order and about a month after Pebble’s demise, it finally arrived*.  For my taste, the Pebble 2 gets all the hardware stuff right including: screen, waterproofing, battery, sensors and buttons and also gets about the right software balance of feature rich-ness to simplicity.

Pebble 2 has delivered a few moments of joy thus far, my favorites being notifications, weather, smart alarms and battery life.

It falls short on the battery drain of my smartphone (more below,) accuracy of the heart rate sensor and lack of integration with Google Assistant.

Hardware

  • 7 day battery This is essential for me, since I can just take my Pebble off once a week on Sunday evening and charge it.
  • ePaper Screen The screen is crisp and clear in all lighting conditions
  • Waterproof body It’s a nice perk to be able to shower and swim with it
  • Sensors
    • Light The backlight employs this to only turn on when needed
    • Accelerometer Used primarly for step counting and sleep tracking
    • Heart Rate Does it what it says, with only ball park accuracy
    • Microphone Seems to work decently
  • Buttons for select, back, up & down It’s easy to interact with the Pebble
  • Bluetooth It’s easy to set up and connect to your phone
  • Size It’s about the same as an old school digital Timex

Interactions

The Pebble’s select, up, down and back buttons are intuitive, but from the watchface they serve special functions:

  • Up – Pebble Health
  • Select – AppLauncher with AppGlance
  • Down – Timeline
  • Back – Nothing
  • Long Press – Quick-launch Apps
  • Peek – Toggle watchface

Firmware

  • Pebble Health Tracks steps, heart rate and sleep.  Sends a notification each night at 8:30PM about how many steps you’ve taken.  Sends a notification in the morning about your night’s sleep.
  • Timeline Since I’m not too much of a calendar guy, I don’t get too much benefit from this feature, but I do enjoy the sunrise/sunset information.
  • Notifications These work great on the Pebble
  • AppLauncher with AppGlance AppGlance is a line of text that appears beneath the App name that displays the most critical information like: is your alarm enabled, latest weather, battery status and latest notifications. (Screenshot)
    • Settings
    • Weather
    • Messages
    • Alarms
    • Music
    • Workout

Pebble App

  • Health
  • Watchfaces
  • Apps
  • Notificaions –

Complaints

Drains on Phone Battery

My Droid Turbo 2’s 3760 mAh battery lasted 2 full days prior to the introduction of the Pebble App and a full-time bluetooth connection; now it lasts more like a day.

Heart Rate Accuracy

The heart rate monitor is laughably inaccurate at times.  I’ll be sitting with a heart rate of 100+ BPM and then I’ll be doing cardio with a heart rate of only 110 BPM.  That said, it does get the trends right.  It tracks my heart rate at night as about 10 BPM lower than during the day.

Missed Google Assistant Opportunity

I’d really like to hold down select and say “Hey Google, remind me to print my tax form when I get to work” and have a reminder created.  I can’t do that, and it seems like a huge missed opportunity.  Similarly, the voice-to-text transcriptions are nowhere near as good as Google Assistant.  Hopefully Pebble’s new owner Fitbit addresses this!