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New watch faces for Pebble smartwatch, with April's SDK

With more than 40,000 Pebbles built so far, developers have a growing market for hacks to the smartwatch, which Pebble is facilitating with next month's arrival of a watch-face software development kit.

This Pebble watch face tells time with Mario scoring coins.
Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

April may be the cruelest month, as T.S. Eliot said, unless you've been jonesing to hack the massively popular Pebble smartwatch.

Founder Eric Migicovsky has announced that a watch-face SDK (software development kit) for the Pebble will be released in the second week of next month (and that 40,000 Pebbles have been assembled so far).

He showed off some early developer work in the Kickstarter video update below, including watch faces with an animated dragon, Mario running around the screen, and even the first game written for Pebble, featuring a Nokia-style Snake done in very simple graphics.

It's all very 1980s, but lots of fun.

Unfortunately not all the Pebble features will be available on the SDK, as the startup said on its Kickstarter page.

"The proof-of-concept Pebble watch face SDK will not enable access to the accelerometer (or magnetometer), or communication between watch faces and smartphones."

"It's a work in progress, and there's a 99 percent chance that we're going to be changing a lot of the APIs...but it's an important first step towards shifting our focus towards supporting developers."

Some watch face designs produced for Pebble's display of 144x168 pixels were highlighted in the update, and include concepts reminiscent of the brainbusting watch designs by TokyoFlash.


Meanwhile, a firmware update is due out next week that makes text display faster and easier. It will come with three apps: one that tells time in Dutch, the Snake game, and a Pebble Kickstarter watch face.

Last year, Pebble Technology raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter for its e-paper smartwatch, which finally began shipping in January. The $150 device works with Android and iOS phones (and related apps) and can display alerts about messages, social-media updates, and caller ID.