Living with the Pebble Smart Watch

Pebble App

cdn.slashgear.com

I have learnt that the pebble is a great watch, its a winner due to its cost, battery lifespan, notifications / caller identity and the ability (albeit limited) to control music or streaming apps such as radio or tv players. The complex apps are not winning me over as they need to be constantly on to use or have you reaching for the phone.

I am certainly missing less calls/notifications and think I would miss it if I reverted to a normal watch (imagine leaving without the internet, sky/cable or even you mobile). There are thinks I would like from it – more seamless integration (but this is not a specific IOS watch), better quality screen that was in colour. Despite the better looking metal Pebble I am glad I did not spend more for it just for a few more app installs (that I would not really need).

So will I purchase the Apple Watch when it comes out, well I am impressed with what it is hyped to deliver and I am more convinced I am the right geek for the watch. But maybe I will have on to my pebble a bit longer until the hype from initial release dies down. I think you would call me an intended early-ish adopter of the pending Apple Watch!

Oh, one final word to the wise. Turn of your notifications from Facebook before you hit your birthday, otherwise it is pointless trying to write anything as it ends up looking like a four year olds scrawl with the amount of vibrations going off.

Andy

Smartwatch Pro / Smartwatch+ (and other Pebble Apps)

App Logo's

There are a range of apps for the Pebble (and certainly far more on android) and a number of them are free, such as:

  • Watch faces
  • yelp – places of interest locator
  • movable (step counter)
  • cards for pebble (a placeholder for user defined text)
  • Battery status
  • Speed warning (avoid those speeding tickets)
  • GPS (poor)
  • Weather

To get the most out of your pebble your going to need to pay for a few apps, some claim a lot and don’t deliver very much:

  • camera controllers/previewers
  • music controllers (beyond the basic default features, such as volume control)
  • locate smartphone
  • GPS (not so poor)
  • Calender/reminder alerts
  • Twitter feeds

And finally there are those apps that do a number of the above functions and a bit more:

  • Smartwatch+ some smarter watch faces require this for full functionality – such as the “smartstatus” watch face
  • Smartwatch Pro which is required by Morpheuz (previous post) a favourite app of mine (currently the new version of Smartwatch Pro is awaiting release and needed by Morpheuz)

So they don’t cost much but there is a downside, the multifunction apps have to be running to work. Meaning you cannot “ping” your smartphone if the associated app is not running on your smartphone. grrrrrr! This includes any camera or gps related app (these work with there own camera and gps facilities and not your preferred apps)

Andy

Morpheus Sleep Monitor for the Pebble Smart Watch

Morphuez Sleep Monitor

http://www.morpheuz.net

Have I mentioned I am an insomniac? or so I thought. With the Pebble Smart Watch App Morpheuz I am sure of it! Its a great little app that effectively monitors the accelerometer in the watch, gathering data throughout your sleep period that upon waking you can export to your smartphone whereby you are presented with an analysis of your sleep pattern.

Your sleep is split in to fours categories, and will give you line and pie charts along with breakdown of statistics:

  1. Awake?
  2. Light
  3. Deep
  4. Ignore

The app will only cache the last monitored sleep, but you can export CSV data, you will need the Smartwatch Pro app (post coming soon) to pass the data to Apples Health App so that you can monitor overall trends.

IMG_9209

 

Disclaimer: My sleep pattern is not normally as bad as above.
My two year old decided he had recovered from his illness and did not want to be alone or sleep!

Additional benefits include:

  • Repeat settings – use the app once and and it will reactivate automatically the following night
  • Set a 10 minute “ignore” period – should you not want a cup-of-tea making break monitored
  • Setting a preferred wake period whereby the watch will wake you at you lightest sleep point
  • weekend lay-in or power-nap modes

 

Andy

Design Your Own Pebble Watch Face

techlec

One of the fun things to do with the Pebble is to design your own watch face at www.watchface-generator.de for free [we like free!]. It is extremely easy to do and allows you to manipulate:

  • Background image
  • Analog[ue] or digital watch face
  • Date
  • Free Text
  • Extras such as battery and connection indicators (such as vibrate and invert watch face colours on loss of Bluetooth connectivity)

The resultant generated watch face is given to you as a link or QR Code that you can scan, allowing you to download a your-watchface-name.pbw file that you can then open in your pebble app.

watchface

Note: this will take up one of your 8/16 app allocation spaces.

My lad particularly likes the spider-man watch faces!

Pebble Smart Watch

I now own a Pebble smart watch, The black plastic model, coming in at only £75 with delivery with thanks to Amazon for their “black friday” sales week. I know the Apple Watch is due for release but this is not until just prior to the summer and is likely to be in the region of £300+. The Pebble purchase was in part to see if there was an actual need for a smart watch and to ascertain the potential benefits of a better smart watch prior to parting with hard earned cash, I don’t see any harm in buying a cheap £40 watch that lasts a year, this was a safe(ish) bet.

A few weeks in and I must admit to loving this timepiece and if it does nothing else then the following I am happy with my purchase:

  • 2 hour charge for 4-7 days (dependant upon heavy-light use)
  • Hundreds of watch faces, beyond the in-built three, to choose from
  • Alarms
  • You can assign 2 app shortcuts, whereby you can hold one of two buttons to instantly call up an assigned app
  • Shake to turn on backlight
  • You can “load” up to 8 apps (16 on the metal version)
  • Control Music (pause/play, skip forward or back) update: holding in the middle pause button replaced the skip buttons for volume buttons !
  • Receive phone notifications
  • Receive incoming calls – reject or accept (no actual listen/speak facilities)
  • It’s waterproof due to sealed components (yes I have tested this)
  • My god the strap is comfy!

The smartphone pebble app itself allows you to find, upload and manage your apps and any unwanted app can be unloaded but kept in the pebble app “wallet” to upload again should you require it. I mostly have my phone on silent, often missing calls or getting annoyed at nuisance callers (I have not been miss-sold PPI), and having the watch allows me to instantly pick-up notifications and calls, and it vibrates (and can give you a notification on some watch face designs) when you become out-of-range from your phone.

I will be posting about a number of apps over this coming week.

 

Andy

Capti Text Reading App (IOS)

Capti is a great app that allows you to listen to everything you want to read on the go. You can listen from :

  1. a browser
  2. clipboard
  3. GoogleDrive
  4. Dropbox.
  5. Instapaper
  6. Pocket
  7. Bookshare
  8. A existing document – by downloading and then opening in Capti (I listened to the FELTAG Report whilst travelling between meetings with this app and the Plantronics M55 Bluetooth Headset – see prior post)

I love the fact you effectively create a playlist, so you can load-up content prior to listening. You can also change voices and the speed of those voices (either manually within voices or x2 when playing)!

 

Andy

By techlec Posted in Apps

Plantronics M55 Bluetooth Headset

This is an absolute gem of a device, especially at around £20, this has become my new best bit of kit. I haven’t used bluetooth headsets for ages, mainly because I used to do short journies that did not need them but as of late these are getting less frequent. There is a lot to like about this headset:

  • Great method for holding in ear, very quick to fit and stays in all the time! – very sceptical but found that I love it! (there is an over the ear adapter if you don’t get on with it – its clear so keep an eye out for it when opening the packaging)
  • Lightweight and small
  • About an hours charging gives 11 hours use time (comes with a 4″ micro USB lead and a Car USB adapter!)
  • Deep sleep mode has the battery lasting for 5 months! (not that I have used it that little!)
  • Voice commands – “Incoming call, [say] answer or ignore?” (not had opportunity to test yet, this can be switched off)
  • It gives you a battery indicator next to the bluetooth symbol (iPhone)
  • There is an App (Plantronics Hub) that you can refer to on how to use as well as button and light identification
  • Multi-point pairing capability, quickly switch active connections between two phones (have not tried this one yet)

I’m an insomniac and often spend silly hours on the PC being productive until the kids came along and I needed sleep, I often listen to podcasts that let me drift off rather than getting up (that does not mean they are boring!) and have often found headphones wrapped round my neck or under my back, this is where this device comes into its own. It includes the A2DP Bluetooth profile that allows audio streaming so I can listen to music, podcasts, radio stations and even GPS directions from your smartphone (no more having to hush the family when trying to listen to sat nav). So I am finding that I don’t take my headphones everywhere with me, so they should last a bit longer, in fact I haven’t used them at all.

The downsides – my wife reckons I look daft with it sticking out the side of my head when I’m pottering around the house!

Andy

FRiEQ 1.8m Nylon Braided Micro USB Charging Cable

A recent tablet purchase for my four year old has had many issues with charging. It really does not like substandard charging cables, in-fact it often dislikes its own charging cable and charger, and needs to be shut down fully to enable it to charge. So I really needed a long hi quality cable, to let my four year old use his tablet whilst charging, and affording some measure of freedom for him. tangle-less for the cable and a good quality that will will not play havoc with the charging itself (I also need to replace one for my own work tablet).

I am not fussed about gold connections (how many devices have gold connectors on themselves?) but I did like the slightly tapered micro USB plug, aiding in removal from device. Fit is good (some third parties are either to tight or to loose). How the braiding holds out remains to be seen. I purchased them here http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FAADBHO

 

Andy

TeckNet 50W (10A) 6-Port USB Wall Charger

A range of tablets have descended upon the household and yet again I found that I needed to consolidate charging points. This time I wanted a device that was not built directly into the plug as I knew it was going to be plugged in behind a unit that I would not have access to very often and I required at least 5 ports with a number delivery 2A (the more the better). I knew there were units that would cost approximately £20 and I came across another technNet unit (which I was impressed with) for just under £16 – the TeckNet 50W 6-Port USB Wall Charger (10A) . I like the fact that again like my other TeckNet unit it is a compact unit and uses a mains lead that plugs into the back of the unit (the cable even has a Velcro cable tidy incorporated).

The device utilises a BLUETEK™ Technology that optimises the capacity of each USB port dependant  upon demand so no USB port is marked with a specific output and will charge up to the stated 10A. Find it http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00LQTJ2SK

 

Andy

TeckNet 21W (4.2A) 4-Port USB Wall Plug

Having recently expanded on the amount of devices in the house and at last count needing 4 charging points by my bedside I decided to invest in a multi USB Plug. I wanted something capable of delivering 2A or more in at least 2 ports. For just under £10 I came across the TeckNet Universal 21W 5V 4.2A 4 USB Port UK Wall Plug. I like the fact that it is a compact unit, and it has certainly done the job for over 2 months. Its just the blue light is very bright and thankfully is tucked behind a unit. the lower 2 ports off 2.1A and the upper ports 1A.

I notice now that this as been superseded by a 24w model that does not included the blue led and has a 2×2 usb cinfiguration rather than a single column of four USB’s and they utilise a BLUETEK™ Technology that optimises the capacity of each USB port dependant  upon demand – find it at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00K0LBMWE

 

Andy