The Pebble arguably started the resurgence in the smartwatch’s popularity after its incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, and is now available with a short delivery time to the UK for around £100 depending on the currency rate. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android, but for the sake of this review, we’re concentrating on using it with an Android phone.
The Pebble requires an application to be installed on your phone, which forwards all the relevant notifications from it to your wrist. However, while the standard app is acceptable, there are some other options which are more feature rich. The question is, which one works best? We tested three of the most popular against Pebble’s own app to find out.
This is Pebble’s own app, and is free to download from the Google Play store. If you decide to use an alternative notification app, you’ll still need to use Pebble’s version, as it connects the watch to your phone. It sends a variety of key notifications to the watch, including Gmail, SMS messages, incoming phone calls, calendar reminders, Hangouts, plus Facebook and WhatsApp messages.
Pebble’s app will also send alerts from the native Android email app, however it’s here where the problems begin, as it only says “New email message” without any indication of who it’s from, or what it’s about. Not very helpful, and rather defeats the object of the smartwatch.
Another issue with the Pebble app is its haphazard way of delivering notifications. It rarely misses them, but often sends them multiple times, and when all they say “New email message” it’s very frustrating. So, overall, it does the job, but there’s room for improvement.
This is another free app, with an option to donate if you like it. It’s dedicated to sending notifications to your Pebble, and leaves it down to you which apps you’d like to authorize. That’s right, while the Pebble app restricts you to certain programs, Pebblify lets you pick and choose.
It monitors each app which tries to issue a notification, and lists them as they come through. A long press lets you add the app to Pebblify’s white list, and notifications will subsequently be sent to the watch. There’re a few other options, such as a black list for apps you never want to hear from, and a great feature to set a “quiet time” where notifications are silenced.
The time consuming setup process makes Pebblify a little frustrating, as there’s no basic list from which to chose your notifications, and it’s easy to miss or forget one which hasn’t been added. Like the Pebble app, it also has problems with the native Android email app, where multiple emails get lumped into a single card on the Pebble’s screen. It was reliable though, and well worth trying out.
If the setup process of Pebblify puts you off, then you’ll want to avoid eNotify. It’s not specifically written for the Pebble, but an option to push notifications to the watch was added earlier in the year. To get the app working, you need to provide your email account details, meaning it checks the account rather than relying on another app.
This works really well, and the notifications on the Pebble look great, containing all the information you need to either dismiss or address the message on your phone. Because eNotify is really designed to manage notifications on your phone, there are lots of other tweaks to do with the LED light, audio alerts and more.
It takes work to stop intrusive notifications appearing on your phone, and the free version of the app is ad-supported, and you’ll need to spend £3 to get rid of them and activate a few other features. It doesn’t deal with Hangouts, so you’ll need to reactivate that option inside the Pebble app. You’ll have to decide if the hassle of setup is worth the excellent email notifications here.
Finally, we have Pebble Notifier, which is a cross between all of the above. Once authorized, you’re given a list of apps which want to send notifications, which you then go through and check off the ones you want. It’s both detailed and frustrating, as some of the standard Android features, such as calls, aren’t clearly labelled. However, Twitter, Google+, Kik and almost every other app can be added in, so it’s comprehensive.
Pebble Notifier had a similar problem to the Pebble app, in that it would send notifications many times over, except in more detail. One email message resulted in 14 notifications vibrating through the Pebble watch! Annoying, and a reason not to use the app at all.
So what’s the conclusion? If you can deal with the setup process, then eNotify does handle email brilliantly, just don’t forget to include the things it doesn’t handle in the stock Pebble app. We’d recommend paying for it too, as the ads are intrusive. If you don’t mind the odd garbled message and a lengthy setup, then Pebblify is worth a try. Enjoy your Pebble!