Follow up on the Pebble appstore

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Date: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014, 21:24
Category: Accessory, App Store, Apple, Apps, Consumer Electronics, iOS, iPhone, Review, Software, Software, The Apple Core, Wearables

Pebble_new_appiconEarlier, I reported on my first impressions of the Pebble appstore and the new app for iOS. There have been a few changes that I wanted to post about. As it happens, Pebble posted an update to the iOS app yesterday, version 2.0.1, which lists the changes as; “More Javascript apps included!” and “Fixed a number of crashes”. Before that was released, however, I noticed something that addressed one of my previous concerns. Now, among the links at the bottom of each app description, you can now ‘Email Developer For Support’ which opens a new message in the Mail app. This was something apparently added to the server side of things after my original review since I noticed the option before the update.



In addition, it seems the new version addresses some other complaints I listed. Scrolling through apps and watchfaces is now much more fluid, although it will still pause occasionally to load more apps onto the screen, but it is no longer painful to browse app listings. The problem of accidentally triggering a selection box around icons is much better. They can still be selected, but it’s not as touchy as before, possibly just because the scrolling is better. I have yet to have had a crash of the app since the update, so perhaps this problem is squashed as the update description mentions.

Since opening up, the appstore has had a steady trickle of new apps and watchfaces, including (of all things) a port of Flappy Bird. If you don’t know the crazy story about the Flappy Bird app, swing over here for the shot-by-shot. Using the application for a few additional days has resulted in some additional observations. For instance, once you download something into your locker, any updates released for your items download automatically. I wasn’t entirely sure if you’d have to keep checking and tapping an update button for each one or not, but everything seems to update in the background. I also noticed that some of the sponsored apps that were advertised turned out to be no-shows. Currently there is no sign of the ESPN app or anything that can display sports scores. There are some apps that will display RSS feeds, but I have have not been able to get any sites to work yet. Another one, PebbleBucks, which connects to your Starbucks account to display rewards and card balance doesn’t completely work, at least not for me. It does display the reward count, but the most important part, displaying your remaining balance, always registers $0.00. I have not checked to see if the barcode scans correctly at a store either. I emailed the developer via the handy new option, but nothing yet.

Since I’m here, I might as well list off some of the apps and watchfaces I think are pretty cool.

  • Pebble Mars – this app actually goes out and grabs images sent by the Mars Curiosity Rover and displays them on your watch. It displays normal time, but you can also have it show “Mars local time” so you know what time it is for the Rover. You can also pick which Rover camera images it displays. On the one hand, it’s cool to say you have live images from Mars on your wrist, but on the other, the updates aren’t very frequent and some of the pictures don’t really look like anything on the dithered black and white display. Still a neat idea.
  • Foursquare – not many features, but the app makes it much easier to check into places quickly. It will show you a short list of nearby venues that you can scroll through with the up and down buttons, then click the middle button check in…viola!
  • My Bus – this app will show you bus and shuttle arrival times for several San Francisco Bay Area transit services. You can set up to 5 favorite stops in the settings which you can flip between using the up and down buttons. Works great! Best thing is it doesn’t require a separate app running on your iPhone.
  • Smartwatch+ – the iOS companion app for this one costs $2.99 in the App Store, but it does a lot of neat things. You can have it show the weather with 3-day forecast, a list of your next calendar appointments, a list of your reminders, trigger a sound if you need to find your phone, trigger the camera app on the iPhone to take remote pictures, and several more. You can find some more info from Jason O’Grady here.
  • Hobbit Time – this is a watchface that displays time in a manner a Hobbit would appreciate, using terms like Sleep, Second Breakfast, Almost Elevenses, Afternoon Nap, Three-ish, etc.. This one might be good for retirees or vacations, otherwise if you need precise timekeeping, this one may not suit you.
  • Trekv2 (both black and white) – a watchface that uses the LCARS look, showing time, day, date, stardate, bluetooth connection status, and Pebble battery charge. If you don’t know what LCARS is, try the next one.
  • The 12 Doctors – this one is pretty clever. It displays a image of the Doctor (from Doctor Who) corresponding to the hour, so 12 o’clock shows the 12th Doctor, Matt Smith…and so on. The minutes are displayed in the lower right corner. Seems awfully convenient that there are JUST enough Doctors for this to work perfectly. I suspect someone is using time travel.

WHEW! There are so many more cool ones out there to recommend, but I need some sleep. I’ll try to review some individually sometime in the future…but probably not using a time machine. Any apps or watchfaces that have a permanent place on your Pebble? List them in the comments!



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