Smartwatches are an interesting product. On the one hand, the utility of a very portable, wearable piece of technology may seem limited because of the small screen and requirement to talk to the device, on the other hand a smartwatch can very discretely advise you of notifications and alerts. The subtle vibration of a watch on your wrist is quieter and more subtle than a smartphone vibrating on the table or in your pocket. Smartwatches are still new products and their capabilities are being developed and explored by those software engineers and manufacturers involved in the sector. Pebble are one of the early smartwatch manufacturers, originally offering one model with a relatively simple set of features, but have steadily improved upon both the software and introduced new devices. Yesterday, Pebble released new software for their range of devices for both the iPhone (bringing the version up to 3.6) and Android (up to version 3.9), plus updating the device firmware to version 3.9.
Although Pebble have updated many aspects of the software, for version 3.9 on the device their key focus has been on improving the health tracking functionality. Pebble report that Pebble Health, the company’s step and sleep tracker utility, has been improved. The device will very shortly be able to show activity and health tracking information on the watch face. Pebble are encouraging developers to visit their website to look up information on developing applications to cooperate with their Health API. The company also report that they have improved the accuracy of the pedometer and the software can now show the distance travelled in kilometers as well as miles, something that will please many non-US users.
Another new feature incorporated into the smartwatch is the ability to reply to an incoming call with a text message on the Android version of the application – users can send a voice note, emoji or customized message rather than answering the ‘phone, which is useful if one is too busy or preoccupied to have a conversation at the time. For Android smartphone customers of the Time-series smartwatch, there’s a new Send Text application and all devices benefit from improvements in handling incoming MMS messages. Finally, Pebble have improved the Watch-Only Mode, which is designed to run when the battery is running low so as to conserve power. Watch-Only Mode should extend battery life at the cost of preventing all of the Pebble’s smart features from running, and the company report that they have improved device performance for the Pebble Time and Time Steel devices. Another small improvement that could make a big improvement for some users is that the devices now support cyrillic characters in notifications and alerts.