Pebble Time Steel One Month On

TimeSteel

I don’t think you can write a review of a device like a smart watch or smart phone until you’ve had a little time to use it. So although I got my Pebble Time over a month I’ve not wanted to write a review of it until I’ve had a chance to put it through it’s paces.

Design

I personally don’t like the look of the regular pebble, it looks too plasticky, so I was disappointed when the Pebble Time was announced that there wasn’t a Pebble Steel analogue, of course it didn’t take long for Pebble to announce the Pebble Time Steel.

The watch may not be to everyone’s taste, but personally I like it, it looks like a watch, and for the most part it doesn’t have the “Oooh is that a smartwatch” aesthetic that the Apple Watch and the regular Pebble have.

Straps

As a Kickstarter backer I got the leather and the stainless steel strap, I’ve tried both and although the leather strap is really comfortable, I didn’t find the steel strap to be very comfortable, it’s possible that I removed one too many links when I was resizing the strap, but it just didn’t feel as nice.

That brings me to my first qualm about the stainless steel strap, although it’s easy enough to get the leather strap off I found it quite difficult to get the stainless steel strap onto and off the watch. Also although the number of links on the steel strap was rather generous, you needed a tiny screwdriver to remove the links to shorten the strap, and it would have been nice to have a small screwdriver in the packaging.

Buttons

The buttons on the watch have a nice feel to them, although I get the feeling that the watch was designed with only right handed people in mind. Although I am right handed I’ve always worn my watch on my right hand rather than my left hand, and the buttons didn’t feel like they were in the right place to use on one’s right hand.

I’ve taken to wearing the watch on my left hand, which is going against 35 years of habit, and for the most part it’s been okay.

There are a total of four buttons on the Time Steel, one on the left which functions as a back button in most cases and three on the right which normally function as up, down, and select buttons. It’s a paradigm that works quite well and it’s relatively intuitive.

Screen

The big new feature of the Time series is the colour e-ink screen, this is the first consumer device I’ve seen with a colour e-ink screen and to be honest I’m quite impressed. The refresh rate is good enough for animation, and the display is probably on par with a GameBoy Advance. You can play games on this, and the refresh is not noticeable, I don’t know how many colours the screen supports, or what the refresh rate is but for a wee screen on my wrist it’s more that good enough.

UI

This is is my first smart watch, so I had not idea what to expect from the UI, I new that pebble had added something called Timeline to the OS but I had no idea how to access it. I found navigating the UI to be relatively straightforward though, it helps that the afore mentioned buttons almost always do the same thing, the once caveat to this being one app where going back required a long press on the back button rather than just a press, so I didn’t think to use the button for anything other than back.

The menu is just a list of options and apps, which you install from the phone app, and selecting an app and using it is fairly straightforward.

It took me two days to discover that clicking up or down opened my “Timeline” though, I probably could have read a manual, or watched a video on using the pebble, but I didn’t so I didn’t know this.

Functionality

The core functionality of the Pebble Time is as a watch, and as a notification system for your phone, it does both of these tasks quite well. This is not a fitness watch, although there are some apps that have some fitness functionality, it’s not what the watch is designed to do.

That said, how useful that watch is depends on your phone, basic functionality like showing you notifications and your timeline works fine regardless of whether you have and iPhone or an Android phone, however, I found that the ways to respond to a notification on Android were much richer than on iPhone, where you could just dismiss the notification.

I was actually quite impressed with the fact that I could dictate a text message to my phone in response to one I had just received, and confirm the message on my watch before sending it. You can’t do this on an iOS device, I dont’ blame Pebble, I blame Apple for not opening up the API for this though…

One thing that the Pebble Time does, that I doubt either Android Wear or Apple Watch can do though is the ability to pair the watch with two devices, with two different operating systems at the same time. The use case for this is probably quite narrow, but if you have an Android phone for work and an iPhone as your personal device then it can be a godsend.

When I tried it I managed to pair an LG Leon and an iPhone 5S to my Pebble Time, and the Leon used regular Bluetooth while the iPhone used low energy Bluetooth. I did have to manage the watch from the Leon, as for some reason I couldn’t manage it from the iPhone, but that wasn’t the end of the world.

Battery

The battery life on the Pebble time is nothing short of amazing, although I never got the reported 10 days, I usually got at least 5 days use out of the watch, and I lived safe in the knowledge that ever if I woke up to a 10% battery warning that I could probably get most of a day, if not a whole days, usage out of the watch. Compare this to my other half who have to charge her Apple Watch every night and for some people that is enough to justify the Pebble.

There was one day where I left an app (Pixel Miner if you must know) open and it drained the battery in a day and a half. That being said, when the battery died I discovered that the Pebble Time goes into a super low power setting that just tells you the time, this lasted for a day and half so if your smart watch runs out of juice you can still use it as a watch for quite some time before you have to find a charge cable.

Apps and Watch Faces

The Pebble Time has the advantage that it’s backwards compatible with all the old Pebble watch faces and apps, so it already has a vast library thats waiting to be used, a lot of which is in black and white though so you don’t get to make as much use of the lovely screen, although there is a growing number of really nice apps, some of them have more polish than others.

There also doesn’t seem to be as much of a drive for corporations to publish apps for the Pebble, it’s mainly Silicon Valley companies where an engineer has blatantly thrown together the app in his spare time. For exaple I have apps for Swam and Yelp but not for British Airways which would be useful.

The selection of watch faces is vast, many of them actually require explanation on how to read them though…

I currently have Nyan Can on my wrist, and it animates when the light comes on, although I can’t change the date format from US format which is annoying.

nyan

There are also a number of games available if playing games on your wrist is a thing you want to do, including a version of Flappy Bird which is actually not terrible, and a fake Pokemon game.

It’s also really easy to write your own watch faces, within 20 to 30 minutes of loading up the developer kit I had written my own watch face that told the time and a little message which is quite cool:

CNfs80AWsAAktg7

Overall Opinion

Overall I’m quite happy with the Pebble Time Steel, it lacks in some of the features that the Apple watch has, so I can’t send my heart beat or drawings of penises to my friends who also happen to have the same watch (Apparently this is what people with Apple watches do…) but it tells me the time, and allows me to keep my phone in my pocket and just check my wrist for notifications. Also the battery lasts for ages, so I don’t need to worry about it running out of juice at the end of the day.

While a smart watch is never a must have device, it is a nice to have, and I’ve found that for the most part the watch has helped to curb my bad habit of receiving a notification on my phone and accidentally opening Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or any of the other millions of distractions on my phone. I can glance at my watch, decide whether or not I need to do anything and just go on with whatever I was doing which is really liberating.

I think I’d like the watch more if I had and used an Android phone more often, because the options for interaction with your phone on iOS seem hamstrung, which is a real shame.

If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comment, I’m willing to try messing about with the watch to answer most questions.

Google I/O My Take on the Big Picture

I didn’t plan on watching Google I/O yesterday, but I’d hit a lull in my code when it was about to start and I’m really glad I did.

I think the best way to look at Google I/O is to contrast it with an Apple Keynote, Google announced or built upon a lot of services that Apple provide to iOS users:

  • Chat Platform
  • Music Platform
  • Games Platform
  • App Services

Among others, but the crucial thing is that at no point did Google say that any of their new services were exclusive to Android or Chrome.

Google and Apple are both service and hardware vendors, they both sell you an ecosystem, an experience. But the difference is where Apple’s ecosystem is focused on providing services that lock you into their hardware, Google by contrast sells hardware that allows you to take advantage of their ecosystem.

Google don’t care if you use GMail or Google Maps from an Android phone or an iPhone, so long as you use GMail or Google Maps.

By contrast Apple need you to buy an iPhone, they don’t care if you use Apple Maps, Google Maps, Bing Maps, Nokia Maps, or even the Open Street Map Project. They want you to use those services on their shiny shiny devices, because they get a cut of any revenue made from apps on those devices.

One thing that I think gives Google the upper hand is that the cost of entry into their ecosystem is much much lower, and it doesn’t tie you to a particular device manufacturer. I can try GMail out on my iPhone and use it as my primary email, move to the web, or get an Android phone, it doesn’t matter and it’s free for me to do so.

If, however I want to try out Apple’s ecosystem, I HAVE to get and iPhone, iPod Touch, or an iPad all of which are expensive purchases. Apple only makes money if I fork out money for the device, given that once a user does get an iDevice they get locked into the ecosystem and most will find it very hard to migrate to another device, but that initial barrier to entry is fairly high.

I’m not sure whether the services to sell hardware or the hardware to sell services will prevail. It’s entirely possible that they will co-exist for a very long time, but the hardware to sell services does feel a little outdated to me.

Personally I think that it’s more likely that Google’s model will prevail in the end. The thing is that’s not going to stop me from say buying an iPhone, because even if I did I know I can take my Google services with me.

I know that this totally ignores Windows 8 and BlackBerry but there is a whole other blog post in that.

What do you think? I am completely wrong?

This Video Makes Me Want An Apple 5!

I really hope this isn’t a scripted parody… Sam Roberts interviews some one in the queue for an iPhone 5.

This video is also by Sam, interviewing an occupy Wall Street, protester.

Via Albotas

That Auto-Correct Song


There aren’t many things that make my laugh out loud even when there is no one else in the room. The crap that gets posted onto sites like “Damn you Auto Correct” definately falls into that category though.

This song by “Ben Champion” play on that, and it’s quite amusing in it’s own right. It’s available to download on iTunes.

If you want to sing along here are the lyrics:
Verse 1

When I said I wanted to kill you,
I meant to say kiss
When I said I was going to to dump your bones in the woods,
I meant to say jump
And now you think I’m a psychopath
And our relationship is wrecked
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on
Auto-correct.

Verse 2

You said whenever you miss me you smell my shits,
I think you meant shirts
My work was coming in slits and spritzers (sorry)
Spits and spurts
I said you were a whining spaz
When I meant to say shining star
Then I said I was going to pimp your ass
When I went to park your car
And now you think I’m a total dick
And I’m losing your respect
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on
Auto-correct.

Verse 3

You said you like to fist with men in bars,
I think you meant flirt
Either way I think it’s safe to say
One of us is going to get hurt
I know that you don’t mind jazz
In a quiet little back street place
But you said in your message you quite like jizz
Except when it was in your face
And now it seems we’re communicating
In a brand new dialect
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on
Auto-correct.

Middle Eight

These thumbs were not designed for typing
Maybe we should just have stuck to skyping
Now all that you can say to me
Is WTF and OMG
This song is one long apology, I admit
This phone is a fluffing piece of shut
This phone is a flecking price of slut
This phone is a trucking place of spit

Verse 4

When I said I like to use glory-holes,
I was trying to type coriander
I was looking forward to eating out
On your vagina
(Verandah, verandah, so sorry)

Now we’ve sent these messages
That we should have double-checked
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on
Auto-erotic
Auto-erotic
Automatic
Autocratic
Sumo wrestler
Dodo forest
Dildo Carrot

Oh well, what did we expect?
We never should have put our faith in auto-correct.

Ancient Apple Video Blue-Busters

This cheesetastic video was apparently played during an Apple sales meeting back in 1984. According to YouTube Commenter majorkahuna:

I was there in Oct. 1984. This was not an internal ad. I was a 1984 state of the art multimedia slide show with audio by Ray Parker Jr. who sang the original. There were also live dancers on the stage.

This was the opening presentation of the International Sales Meeting that introduced the Lightwriter later renamed Laserwriter.

Apple always used a current movie as a them for the sales meetings. in 1985 it was Back to the Future.

For the record I had a quick look and can’t find the 1985 Back to the Future video on YouTube… This makes me sad.

 

What if Apple Designed the GameBoy?

Artist Patrick Staudt re-imagines the Nintendo GameBoy as it would have been designed by Apple. The thing is the original GameBoy was  released in 1989 at about the same time Apple released the Newton. I think for a game playing device the GameBoy is definitely more iconic and probably better designed than the Newton…

File:Nintendo Gameboy.jpgApple Newton-IMG 0454-cropped.jpgFile:Apple Newton.jpg

Also if apple designed the GameBoy right now we would probably just end up with the iPhone,iPod Touch or iPad because lets face it those products do what the GameBoy did and are both stealing market share from Nintendo and Sony.

But if hypothetically Apple’s design engineers went back in time and took with them the technological advances that allow them to make the iPhone so slime but not the retina display and their hatred for physical buttons and decided in their infinite wisdom to stick a green and black dot matrix screen on their design for the GameBoy then it might just look like this (More comments inline, Comments may be sarcastic…):

Wireless? Wirelessly connecting to what? The internet didn’t even exist at that point. And modems maxed out at 28.8K in 1989 (Or there abouts). You might have had IR connectivity but that would have been slow as hell too.

 

I’m not going to bother looking up the GameBoys max FPS I doubt it was that high…

I’m willing to bet he thought he was being clever by going that small… In that size of packaging you’d have been lucky to squeeze 8Mb into that device if you wanted room for other electronics. It wasn’t till 1991 that you could even get a 100Mb 2.5″ drive a 2.5″ drive is about the size of an iPhone…

Okay so they are designing it now… Otherwise how WiFi? The WiFi alliance wasn’t formed until 1999. Still 200 hours of gaming on a battery that fits in that case? Even with a DotMatrix screen the original GameBoy managed 10-12 hours on 4 Batteries. What fantasy world do they live in! I want to be there! But I can’t! Why am I shouting!

My thumbs have power… Also zero mechanical failure? That’s impressive, except my Old GameBoy that I got in 1989 still works, so not that impressive…

Oooh volume!

What the hell do those buttons do? I assume the are contrast buttons but that’s only because I had a GameBoy and it had contrast buttons on it.

 

Juicetank iPhone charger case

This Kickstarter is genius! The idea is to incorporate an iPhone charger into an iPhone case so you physically plug your phone into the wall. The only flaw I can see with the design is that it doesn’t incorporate a docking port which you might want to use to connect your phone to a computer or dock. The only reason I’d not get one (aside from not owning an iPhone) is that it’s designed for an Americanplug socket, I’m sure if the project goes ahead they will create one for UK/European markets though…

Design Boom

Apple Punditry

English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Appl...
I miss this logo

I’m going to weigh in on the off chance I’m right but here are my expectations for the apple announcement today:

  1. New Apple TV (I hope with a little bit of storage but I doubt it)
  2. iTV Apple TV with integrated TV, probably available in 32″ and 24″ varieties.
  3. Apps for Apple TV (I don’t own an apple TV but I assume that it doesn’t do apps) People will liken this to the Pippin
  4. Update to the iPod range, with the iPod Touch being upgraded to match the iPhone 4 without the 3G radio of course.
  5. Update to Laptop range, this has been a long time coming and a lot of people are speculating that the MacBook Pro will move to a MacBook Air like form factor.
  6. Possible bump in processors to Apples Desktops, to be honest I’ve not paid attention to the Apple Desktops in 5 years and they don’t seem to have changed aesthetically since the G5 was announced, so it’s possible that they might refresh the desktop case but I doubt it.
  7. Oh yeah iPad 3, which is annoying as I’ve only just got an iPad 2. Higher resolution screen and beefier processor seem a given, I think Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 this time as the low end alternative moving to a two tiered model like the 3 tier model they have with the iPhone 3GS/4/4S at the moment.
  8. Something new about the App store to mark the 25 billionth app being downloaded, what? I don’t know.

I don’t think any of this is rocket science, I think it’s business as usual. I’d like to see the Apple TV turn into a console/entertainment centre but with Valve thinking about releasing one and the way that Google TV is going I think that the market is too saturated.

I know this is cliché, I don’t actually care very much as I doubt I’ll be buying anything that Apple announce today, but I thought I’d weigh in.

This is the first big Apple event since the death of Jobs, I predict lot of people are going to be comparing Tim Cook to Steve and most of them are going to say that he doesn’t have the same charisma. It’ll be interesting to see how well whatever Tim Cook announces sell without Steve’s “Reality Distortion Field”.

If Apple announce a Pippin 2 I might want one though… I really wanted a Pippin when the first one was announced.

Bandai Pippin (Atmark Player)
Image via Wikipedia

Mass Effect Infiltrator Available on iOS


Don’t @Avarinne I’m not sure her PhD can survive a version of Mass Effect that she can carry around with her…

The game is available now on the App Store for £4.99:

“Players take on the role of our protagonist, Randall Ezno, a Cerberus agent who becomes disillusioned with the organization he works for, eventually turning into one of their fiercest enemies as he uncovers the depths that Cerberus will plumb to achieve their despicable goals,” said EA of the game’s plot. “Along the way the player gathers important Intel that will be shared with the Alliance to help sway the final confrontation in Mass Effect 3 through the Galaxy @ War system.”

It looks very pretty, I’ve not had a chance to watch the video fully, I’m sure that avarinne will buy it and I’ll get a chance to look at it over her shoulder, and if I’m lucky maybe play it.