Update: Check out my more recent update on my Pebble experiences too.
Anybody following along here will know that I have been having intermittent connection issues, as well as bluetooth audio interference issues, with my Pebble smartwatch. But more than that, I have been having issues with their customer support. Not to mention having their Chief Evangelist accuse me of whining, and then block me on Twitter. Great way to treat your customers. Guess she doesn’t want to actually hear from real users.
On October 17, I was given this answer by one of their support folks:
We well received your logs, and will review them thoroughly and have a reply by Tuesday. Thanks for your patience.
That was a Friday. By the next Friday, October 24, I had still heard nothing other than another canned response on a different case number because I submitted more logs through their app and it generates a new case each time suggesting I upgrade to iOS 8.1 (which I had already done, and which has made no difference).
In response to asking what was happening, I got a response on October 29 saying the response I had received about iOS 8.1 was because of bugs Apple had fixed (which, according to today’s email were related to phone calls, not text notifications).
I submitted more logs over this past weekend since I saw the connection loss issue twice more, and sure enough I get another pointless response:
1. Place your Pebble on the Pebble charger and make sure it is charging.
2. Go to Settings > Bluetooth on your device. Find your Pebble and Pebble LE in the list > click on the blue “i” > Forget this device.
3. Hard close the Pebble app on your phone by double clicking the main iPhone button and swiping up the Pebble app.
4. Restart your phone by holding the home and lock buttons down until the apple logo appears on the screen (this should 5-10 seconds but may take longer)
5. Try pressing & holding the left + right middle + right top buttons for 40 seconds. This will put it into recovery mode.
6. It will now show up in Settings > Bluetooth as not connected/paired. Pair your Pebble (not Pebble LE) and your iPhone.
7. Re-open the Pebble app
In particular, killing the Pebble app & then immediately hard rebooting the phone seem like redundant steps to me. Step 5 I assume refers to the buttons on the watch, though that is far from clear too. I have also done all of this, and more, in the past and it made no difference (obviously, at the time it fixes the connection, but it will still fail again at some point in the future).
Other Bluetooth Devices
When I expressed my dismay at yet another IT style reboot everything response, I get back a reply including this statement:
If you are able to connect to your Pebble the only reason your Pebble should be losing connection would be if you are using other Bluetooth devices, or in a place that might block Bluetooth connections, are you currently using any Bluetooth headsets or speakers, or connecting to your car’s audio system?
Sounds like using any other Bluetooth device might disrupt the Pebble (not to mention the fact that the Pebble will disrupt any headsets you dare to use). And yet, I can use my Fitbit and listen to music on my A2DP headphones or the car audio system without those having issues. It is only when the Pebble is introduced that problems start. This weekend, when I experienced the issues twice, only the Fitbit would have been connected since I didn’t drive my car, nor did I use my bluetooth headphones.
I understand the problems associated with embedded software very well; I have spent much of my career in the embedded space, and currently work in the mobile software space. That doesn’t excuse not taking ownership of issues though. Or, if the issue is a limitation imposed by iOS (or Android, or Bluetooth), then at least make it clear that it won’t get fixed soon, if ever.
The primary use case for a smartwatch is to enable notifications to be received without needing to look at the paired phone. If that is not reliable, then the watch is of limited use. Right now I am constantly checking whether I am missing anything as I no longer trust the watch to notify me reliably.
The Pebble hardware, despite not being as flashy as the Apple or Android watches, has some distinct advantages, not least of which is the battery life, but hardware alone is not enough, and Pebble’s software is still not there.