Customizing the New Pebble Time Watch with Apps
Just a few months after conducting the world’s most successful crowd funding campaign to date, Pebble began shipping its second generation smart watch, called the Pebble Time, in late June 2015. While some similarities exist between the Pebble Time and Apple Watch, in reality, these two wearable devices have more differences than similarities.
For example, Pebble Time is priced at $199.99, which is considerably less expensive than even the lowest cost Apple Watch Sport model. While Pebble Time has a full-color display, it is not a touch-screen display, and it utilizes different screen technology entirely. Pebble Time also has an average battery life of one week, and while it can work in conjunction with the iPhone (just like Apple Watch), Pebble Time also works with Android-based smartphones. In fact, both watches rely heavily on the smartphone they’re paired with in order to function.
Also, while the Apple Watch features its Digital Crown and one side button, as well as the touch-screen display to allow users to interact with the watch, Pebble Time utilizes four buttons located on the left and right sides of the watch (shown in Figure 1).
Figure 1 The Pebble Time is the second-generation smart watch from Pebble. Priced at $199.00, it offers a full-color display.
Step One: Install the Pebble App Onto Your Smartphone
To set up, customize, and then allow your smartphone to share data with the watch, Pebble Time requires that the proprietary Pebble Time app be installed on your smartphone. To do this, from the web browser built into your smartphone (Safari on the iPhone), visit http://www.getpebble.com/app, and then tap on the Download on the App Store button (shown in Figure 2).
Figure 2 Before you can begin using the Pebble Time watch, download the Pebble Time app from the App Store.
At this point, use the cable that comes with the Pebble Time watch to connect the watch to an external power source (via your computer’s USB port, for example), in order to begin initially charging the watch’s battery.
From the Pebble website, when you tap on the Download on the App Store link, the App Store app launches on your smartphone. On the iPhone, tap on the Get button to download and install the app. When the Open button appears within the App Store (shown in Figure 3), tap on it to launch the iPhone app. An icon for the app will now appear on your iPhone’s Home screen as well.
Figure 3 Launch the Pebble Time Watch app to initially set up, customize, and then manage the Pebble Time watch.
From the Pebble Time app’s opening screen, tap on the I Have Pebble Time button (shown in Figure 4) to continue the watch setup process.
Figure 4 Tap on the I Have Pebble Time button to continue the watch setup process.
Next, it’s necessary to set up a free Pebble Account. To do this, tap on the Create Account button and when prompted, enter your name, email address, and a password (which you create) for the account. Tap on the Create Account button to continue. If you’re upgrading from the original Pebble watch and already have an account, sign in using your email address and existing account password.
The Pairing Your Pebble screen appears next. These steps allow your smartphone (iPhone) and Pebble Time watch to establish a continuous wireless connection. When the Select An Accessory window appears on the smartphone’s screen, tap on the Pebble Time device name, and then tap on the Pair button within the Bluetooth Pairing Request pop-up window that appears. Also, on the watch itself, press the top button on the right side of the watch to initiate the pairing process.
A Firmware Update for the Pebble Time watch will be acquired by your smartphone from the Pebble website, and then transferred and installed automatically onto the Pebble Time watch. This process will take several minutes. A progress meter will be displayed within the Pebble Time smartphone app (shown in Figure 5), and on the watch’s screen.
Figure 5 Once your smartphone and watch are paired, allow the updated watch firmware to be transferred and installed onto the watch.
On the smartphone, follow the on-screen prompts to turn on Notifications and confirm the Bluetooth pairing request. You’ll also need to approve Push Notifications, Location Data, and Calendars to be turned on via the iPhone app. After approving each of these options, tap on the Done option. This process only needs to be completed the first time you set up the Pebble Time watch.
Customizing the Pebble Time Watch
Once the watch is successfully paired with the iPhone, it will begin functioning in conjunction with your smartphone. In other words, if an alert, alarm, or notification, for example, is generated by your iPhone, it will also be displayed on the watch’s screen.
The next step involves choosing a custom watchface. Choose a watchface from the existing menu of watchfaces already installed within the watch (shown in Figure 6). Alternatively, follow the instructions later in this article to find, download, and install additional watchfaces from the Internet via your smartphone.
Figure 6 Choose a watchface for your Pebble Time watch.
After selecting a watchface, tap on the Apps/Timeline tab that’s displayed near the top-right corner of the app screen. All of the apps that are currently installed within the Pebble Time watch will be displayed on this My Pebble screen. To customize each of these apps, tap on each app listing, one at a time.
Find and Install Additional Watchfaces
As you’re looking at the My Pebble screen on the Pebble Time smartphone app, tap on the Menu icon that’s displayed in the top-left corner of the screen. To find, download, and install additional watchfaces, tap on the Get Watchfaces option (shown in Figure 7).
Figure 7 From the app’s menu, tap on the Get Watchfaces option to find, download, and install additional Pebble Time watchfaces.
From the Watchfaces screen (shown in Figure 8), scroll down and select the watchface(s) you want to install, one at a time. Many different full-color watchfaces designed specifically for Pebble Time are listed, as are watchfaces originally designed for the Pebble watch that are not displayed in full-color.
Figure 8 View an ever-growing selection of optional watchfaces that can be downloaded and installed onto your Pebble Time watch.
Tap on a watchface listing to view more details about it. Then, if you want to download and install that watchface onto your Pebble Time watch, tap on the Add button that’s displayed in the top-right corner of the screen. Doing this will cause the watchface to be downloaded from the Internet by your smartphone, and then wirelessly transferred and installed onto your Pebble Time Watch.
Once the watchface is installed, press the center button on the right side of the watch, and select Settings. Next, press the bottom button of the right side of the watch to scroll through the menu options, until the Watchface menu option is displayed on the watch’s screen. Press the center button on the right side of the watch again to access this menu, and then select and highlight the name of the watchface you want to activate by pressing the top or bottom button on the right side of the watch to scroll through the menu. Press the center button to select the highlighted option.
Find and Install Third-Party Apps Onto the Pebble Time Watch
With the Pebble Time app running on your smartphone, tap on the Menu icon that’s displayed in the top-left corner of the screen, and then select the Get Apps option to access the Pebble App Store via your iPhone. An Internet connection is required.
From the Apps screen (shown in Figure 9), begin browsing the App Store, and seek out third-party apps you want to install onto your Pebble Time watch. Some of these apps are offered for free. Others have a price associated with them.
Figure 9 From the main App Store screen (accessible from the Pebble app on your smartwatch) begin browsing for apps to install onto your watch.
The App Store has six main app categories: Daily, Tools & Utilities, Notifications, Remotes, Health & Fitness, and Games. Select a category to browse for a specific type of app, or scroll downward on the main Apps screen (on your smartphone) to browse through individual app listings.
When you come across an app you want to install, tap on its listing. A more detailed app description screen will be displayed. Shown in Figure 10 is information about the JavaPay app, which has proven to be one of the more popular third-party Pebble Time watch apps. This app allows you to link your prepaid Starbucks card to the watch, and then pay for Starbucks purchases at the cash register using the watch.
Each app description screen includes a text-based description of the app, along with sample screenshots. If you want to download and install the app, tap on the Add button.
Figure 10 From any app description screen, if you want to download and install the app onto your Pebble Time watch, tap on the Add button within the smartphone app.
Upon taping on the Add button, the app will be downloaded to your smartphone and then wirelessly transferred to and installed on your Pebble Time watch automatically. Keep in mind, the Pebble App Store is being populated with new apps from third-party developers daily. It’s possible to install as many additional apps as you’d like onto the watch using the Pebble Time app on your smartphone.
At any time, tap on the Pebble Time smartphone app’s Menu icon, and then tap on the My Pebble option to see a listing of apps installed on your watch and then manage those apps. When you’re done customizing the Pebble Time watch and/or adding watchfaces or apps, exit out of the smartphone app. To do this on the iPhone, press the phone’s Home button. The Pebble Time watch is now ready to be worn and used.
The Pebble App Store offers an ever-growing selection of apps for the Pebble Time watch. Some of these apps can greatly enhance the features and functions offered by the watch, or give you access to more specialized data or content from your smartphone. Ultimately, however, like Apple Watch, the Pebble Time watch is really a second display for your smartphone that will keep you apprised of alerts, alarms, notifications, incoming emails, and incoming text messages, for example, that are generated or received by your phone.
Some of the optional apps available, however, also allow you to use the Pebble Time watch as a remote control for other devices, or to acquire and display content from the Internet (such as news headlines, sports scores, or content from your social media accounts).
Just as with the Apple Watch, how useful the Pebble Time watch will prove to be in your everyday life will depend on which apps you install onto it, and what the capabilities of those apps are.
For frequent travelers, there are a growing number of apps that can help you find and manage your travel itinerary, access travel websites to book reservations, or gather information about hotels, restaurants, and nearby points of interest, directly from the watch. Meanwhile, if you’re a fitness-oriented person, there are fitness apps that can be used in conjunction with your smartphone, as well as an optional fitness/activity tracker (from Fitbit or Jawbone, for example), to gather and display real-time data pertaining to your activity or workouts.
When you first begin using your Pebble Time watch, invest some time exploring the App Store to see what’s available, and then make a point to revisit the App Store every few days or weeks to discover the new and innovative apps that are continuously being released.