Pebble's new firmware update adds fitness tracking to Time watches as standard. New Time features come to older Pebbles too.
Finally, Pebble watches can be regular fitness trackers. And older Pebbles can get some of the benefits of newer ones.
Pebble's smartwatches have always traded off having more advanced features in exchange for longer battery life and an always-on screen. One feature that never really made the cut was fitness tracking: Pebbles track activity in the background and work with a handful of standalone fitness apps from Misfit, Jawbone and others. But now newer Pebble Time watches can automatically track fitness and sleep all the time, no apps necessary.
The latest Pebble Time firmware hitting today, version 3.8, at last bakes fitness tracking in to the operating system. Daily steps and sleep are recorded automatically, and goals can be set based on average performance. Weekly summaries can be peeked at, too, much like what you can get on other smartwatch fitness apps or fitness bands.
What's more interesting is Pebble's promise of deeper insights and features down the road, including cross-posting of activity to the Pebble Timeline day-at-a-glance function of the Time software. This could mean observations on how well you sleep correlates to how busy a day was, or suggesting times to exercise based on calendar appointments. Pebble has also announced it's collaborating with the Stanford Wearable Health Lab to work on more open standards for collecting and sharing health data for research using Pebble Time watches.
The new fitness functions cross-sync with Apple Health and Google Fit, with future compatibility for third-party fitness apps planned down the road. According to Pebble, the firmware will tax battery life by around 5 percent more than everyday use before Pebble Health existed. Pebble Health features will only work on newer Pebble Time, Time Steel and Time Round watches.
Sorry: If you have a pre-Time Pebble (the plastic model and the Steel), you don't get new baked-in fitness tracking. But those models can still use Misfit and Jawbone's existing apps, which work relatively well. Better news, though, is that earlier Pebbles finally get the Time's timeline at-a-glance calendar feature, and a revamped UI with this firmware, and no more eight-app limit for onboard storage.
Have you tried the new Pebble features? Stay tuned for a review update once we've tested them.