When Fitbit acquired Pebble last year, with no apparent interest in anything but absorbing the software for its own products, there was a concern about what would happen to existing smartwatches from the former golden boy of Kickstarter.
And while I wouldn’t suggest anyone buy a Pebble in 2017 for future proofing and support reasons, it does at least appear that current owners shouldn’t have their devices suddenly stop working one day. The latest version of the Pebble app, out now for Android and iOS, removes the device’s reliance on likely-to-be closed cloud services. That means that even when Fitbit does pull the plug, your Pebble should keep on ticking.
“Freeing the ecosystem from these dependencies means Pebble smartwatches can operate normally, even if online servers are not accessible for any reason,” the company wrote in a blog post.
“If a Pebble authentication server can’t be reached, the mobile apps will let Pebble devices keep working. The login process can be skipped, apps can be side-loaded, and the latest watch firmware (including language packs) can be installed.”
It seems somehow fitting that the smartwatch which always put battery life and stamina above all else will try its hardest to live on, but as you might expect, this will likely involve certain compromises on performance in the long run. Dictation, messaging and weather all currently rely on Pebble’s servers, so you may ultimately find yourself upgrading the app for a downgrade on the device. The ability to contact customer support and request new features have also evaporated. Still, it’s the price you’ll have to pay to ensure that the original smartwatch keeps ticking for a few more years.