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First look at the new Pebble appstore, apps without phone companion

Pebble is getting ready to launch their appstore and I have spent a few hours testing it out. Some apps can be used independently of a phone companion app and the Pebble experience is getting richer.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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Starting up the new iOS Pebble appstore application

My current favorite smartwatch is the Pebble with my 3rd party black and orange band. After hearing about the Pebble appstore at CES, I couldn't wait to see what more my Pebble could do for me.

I was given early access to the Pebble appstore yesterday and updated my Pebble to the latest firmware to support this experience. I wanted to share a few thoughts and images, with a cautionary warning that this is still a beta with a bit more work before the public launch.

The first step was to download a special Pebble appstore application on my iPhone. At this time, only the iOS app is available to use with your Pebble with the Android version coming soon.

As you can see in the following screenshots, you walk through the setup wizard that has you sign up for a Pebble appstore account, acknowledge some notification warnings, and then update the firmware on your Pebble. I had to first remove the existing Pebble app from my iPhone and also unpair my Pebble.

After you have your Pebble updated and the Pebble appstore setup on your iPhone you can then browse through the appstore and find watchfaces and applications to install. Unfortunately, I lost my Seahawks watchfaces when I upgraded my Pebble firmware, but figured it was worth it to try out the latest software and also believe those watchface developers will update soon with the new SDK.

I installed a few apps to test out, including Yelp, Foursquare, ESPN, and Smartwatch+. I also installed the new Modern watchface and really like the looks of it. The first three were free, but I paid to get the Smartwatch+ companion app on my iPhone.

You will find that some apps require a companion app on your iPhone, but Yelp, Foursquare, and ESPN all worked as stand-alone apps. The Yelp app connects to your iPhone to obtain the GPS signal and then shows you local venues. Foursquare does the same and even lets you quickly and easily check-in right from your Pebble. The ESPN app supports the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA football, and NCAA basketball. You can quickly and easily get score updates and set the automatic interval for those updates.

Smartwatch+ is a full featured app with an iPhone companion that is used to setup the app and help serve up data. You can install their watchface, view the latest weather, control your camera remotely, control music, find your phone (a loud alarm sounds even if your phone is on silent), and more.

My Pebble restarted randomly a few times after I installed the new firmware and a few applications, but it has performed flawlessly for the last day. Remember, this is still a beta so I expect some issues as bugs are worked out before the launch.

I hope to eventually see a Fitbit application for the Pebble that would allow me to use my Pebble and remove one device from my daily gear. I look forward to seeing more apps and watchfaces and understand apps are being approved and put into the store daily. There are currently almost 1,000 apps published in the appstore with over 6,000 developers registered.

So far I am impressed with what Pebble is doing here with their smartwatch platform. I do not want a full smartphone on my wrist and think they are balancing the companion and stand-alone device line perfectly. I look forward to testing out the Pebble Steel soon as well and will share my experiences with you all when I can. For now, check out the CNET review of the Pebble Steel that is shipping now to early buyers.

Further reading:

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Set up your Pebble appstore account

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All set and ready to go to the next step

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Updating my Pebble firmware

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Firmware update screen on the iPhone

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Oops, some apps don't work with the newest firmware

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Suggested apps after the update

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First start of appstore shows quick tips

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Eight apps can be loaded on your Pebble at one time

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You can easily move apps into a locker

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Foursquare in the Pebble appstore

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Managing your Pebble apps

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Main launch screen on Pebble appstore

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A few apps I have loaded on my Pebble

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Browsing the available apps

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