Pebble Update Opens The Door To Custom Servers

Pebble is shutting down, but that doesn't mean that owners of Pebble smartwatches have to see their beloved hardware go dark, thanks to a new update that unhooks the watches from Pebble's servers, allows for skipping any mandatory internet-connective activities, and allows developers to point their apps or even the watches themselves to whole new servers. Essentially, this update means that Pebble's smartwatches will live on until people get tired of developing for them. The update also allows sideloading of apps, allowing developers to create an entirely new ecosystem for Pebble devices through a combination of sideloaded base apps, such as a new app store, and changing what servers internet-enabled apps hook into.

A number of new, removed, and changed features pepper the update, making for a complete detachment from the watches' previous dependence on Pebble's own services. The ability to suggest new features to Pebble is gone now, as are most of the telemetry features that "phoned home", such as health reporting. When Pebble's servers can't be reached, users can skip authentication processes that would normally depend on Pebble's servers, at the cost of not being able to access Pebble's app store. Apps can still be sideloaded and in theory, at least, a brand new app store could be created if there's enough community enthusiasm, thanks to the update allowing developers to tell their apps what servers to connect to. A small bug that gave users an undue "crown" for step counts was also fixed.

The iOS version has received a similar overhaul, with many net-enabled features now pointing to Apple's servers or allowing custom servers, like the Android version. The short-lived Windows Phone version of the app and unofficial ports are not receiving such an update, meaning that communities besides iOS and Android owners that want Pebble functionality to continue after the servers shut down will have to turn to DIY solutions. Pebble has promised to keep their servers going until at least 2018, but many features of those servers will likely go by the wayside in the meantime, meaning that taking advantage of this update to load up custom apps and servers will soon be the best bet for Pebble owners.

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