I wanted to take a minute to share my thoughts, for posterity, regarding the recent news that FitBit is likely to (or already has) purchased Pebble.
First, I love my Pebble Time. I loved the idea of it so much that after I found out about the watch (sometime after the kickstarter had ended), I bought the kickstarter edition on eBay (which, ironically, allowed me to receive my watch WAY faster than many had). I developed a few watchfaces for it, and love the features (instant notification and knowledge of my email/IMs/etc keeps me on top of my work as a sysadmin). I was also just about ready to finally get some Phillips Hue bulbs so that I can turn my lights off while in bed, which would save me from tripping over my cat. Answering calls from my… well, headset, but as notified by my watch, is also very awesome. Paying for starbucks, logging into TFA accounts, getting weather reports at-a-glance, a vibrating and totally silent alarm (good for sleeping next to someone when you have an earlier alarm than them), all SO awesome.
But now I fear for my device, which has become highly integrated into my daily life (as much, or even more, than my cellphone had been). Why do I fear? Well, FitBit specifically stated that they will be phasing out the Pebble brand, that’s why. I doubt that they’re going to be keeping the (admittedly extremely limited) app store, or continue updating the app (which is absolutely mandatory for loading apps unless you install an Ubuntu VM), or keep CloudPebble.com alive (an amazingly useful cloud-based dev environment that, again, allows me to avoid installing a Ubuntu instance). The thing I fear most though? That they’ll actually brick the device so that you’ll have to buy the new FitBit smartwatch (powered by basalt, or chalk, or whichever OS version they decide to build on).
Normally, buy-outs don’t worry me until I see something that creates said worry. This time, though, I’m already aware of FitBit’s awful build quality and closed-source (and hack unfriendly) code. As such, I find myself looking at other watches, but nothing comes even close. No other smartwatch has a 5-10 day battery life, or clear screen (even in daylight), or is so easy to develop for. Certainly not all of those things at once. Android wear is probably what I’ll have to fall back to, but they’re all huge, short-lived, limited in software, and horrible (if not impossible) to develop for.
Sigh. If anyone knows of a good alternative, please drop me a line in the comments.