Pebble SDK Update Positions Smartwatch to Compete with Nike & Fitbit

Pebble Smatwatch

Watch Out Nike & Fitbit Pebble’s Coming For You!

Pebble announced today an update to their SDK which finally gives developers API access to the smartwatch’s accelerometer. According to Pebble, access to the accelerometer was the most requested SDK update they have received since they released their alpha version back in April.

Access to the accelerometer API will let developers use this sensor in games, watchfaces but most importantly fitness and activity apps. This means that, with the right apps, Pebble will now be able to collect and display movement data making it an activity tracker as well as a smartwatch.

Access to the accelerometer positions Pebble to go head-to-head with activity trackers like Nike’s Fuelband and devices like Fitbit. Fitbit just recently announced the launch of their new device, the Fitbit Force, which also tries to close the gap between activity trackers and smartwatches. The Force will be the first activity tracker to have a display which can also act as a watch for this wristband. The Fitbit Force is expected to ship November 25th according to an email we received from Best Buy Canada.

The announcement today from Pebble proved that, like the smartphone and tablet space, apps are wholly necessary to unlock the potential of this new hardware. Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky assured those watching that the team at Pebble (now a total of 40) have been “laser focused” on changes to their SDK and developer support.

Over 20,000 downloads of the current alpha Pebble SDK have been downloaded since its release. And Migicovsky confirmed that there are over 2,200 apps alone available on popular Pebble app site myPebbleFaces.com. The most telling stat of the presentation was that over two million Pebble apps and watchfaces have been downloaded to date. This is pretty impressive considering that Pebble says there are only 190,000 Pebble smartwatches on the wrists of users since their launch back in January.

Pebble also announced an update to the Pebble iOS app which is currently under review in the App Store. This update will finally let iPhone users running iOS7 receive all notifications they receive in the notifications centre on their Pebble.  This makes Pebble a much more effective device for apps like Twitter, Facebook, email clients and more.

Migicovsky ended his part of today’s Pebble event announcing some big players who will be launching apps for Pebble in the next coming months including Foursquare, Yelp and GoPro Getting some big players on board is necessary for the Pebble app ecoysystem to succeed especially with the Galaxy Gear already having apps from Path, eBay and Evernote.

One big thing missing from the announcement today is a centralized app store for Pebble apps. There are currently a number of app directories and forums for Pebble which could pose a problem with discovery. Migicovsky pointed out MyPebbleFaces as being one of these sites in his announcement. As the app ecosystem grows for Pebble, the need for a common destination will become increasingly important. In addition, there was also no update on the number of apps a Pebble user can download and store at any given time. Just like before, the Pebble will only house eight apps at a time which is quite limiting.

Pebble smartwatches, in all colors, are now in-stock and ready to ship. Pebble is waiving the shipping fees worldwide for a limited time on www.getpebble.com.

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

Tom leads a double life as a freelance consultant and writer focusing on mobile, tablets and emerging technology. An early adopter since childhood, he blames his need to play with the latest in tech on a severe case of FOMO and a wide-eyed fascination that the future is unfolding right before our very eyes. He has recently embarked on a wearable tech journey as one of few Google Glass Explorers in Canada and is one step closer to becoming an outright cyborg.