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Pebble explains the future of its smartwatches

by Todd Haselton | December 15, 2016December 15, 2016 7:30 am PST

Pebble, following news of an acquisition by Fitbit, said it was cutting all manufacturing of smartwatches and issuing refunds to Kickstarter backers. It seemed pretty plausible that Fitbit was taking over and shaking its hands clean of Pebble’s hardware entirely. After all, the company said it’s dropping product support for all models. Now Pebble says it can promise your Pebble smartwatch will work at least through 2017.

“Fitbit is going out of its way to keep Pebble software and services running through 2017,” the company said in a recent blog post. The language is a little baffling, given that it sounds like Fitbit is trying to do Pebble’s paying customers a favor, but I digress. “No one on this freshly-formed team seeks to brick Pebble watches in active service. The Pebble SDK, CloudPebble, Timeline APIs, firmware availability, mobile apps, developer portal, and Pebble appstore are all elements of the Pebble ecosystem that will remain in service at this time. Pebble developers are welcome to keep creating and updating apps. Pebble users are free to keep enjoying their watches.”

Pebble said it’s going to update its mobile apps so that Pebble smartwatches aren’t as dependent on the cloud, allowing them to function better on their own. That’ll come with some drawbacks, of course, since apps and other tools are technically stored in the cloud when they’re not installed on the Pebble, but at least your Pebble will continue to work. Also, Pebble promises that Pebble Health will operate normally.

Some Pebble services may soon stop functioning

Pebble doesn’t seem so certain about other services, though. It said it’s still considering whether or not it’s going to be able to support some of the more advanced features like third-party weather services, messaging and dictation. It’s possible those will continue to work fine, but Pebble admits it’s still trying to “establish if and for how long these experiences can continue on.”

All of this is still quite a bummer, and I think there are two ways to look at it. I’m glad Pebble is considering its users and doing what it can to keep smartwatches functioning, but I can’t help but feel a little frustrated at how the deal is going down. Pebble users paid for smartwatches that they thought were going to perform certain tasks, and now some of those might be removed? I hope Fitbit eventually makes it up to them somehow, maybe through discounts on future products, but I’m not holding my breath.

Pebble

Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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