Best thing about Pebble Time is you can program it – this is the watch for coders

DSC_0050I finally succumbed and got a smart watch. That’s a little strange because I don’t wear a watch normally, so there had to be a compelling reason for me to take the step. Pebble Time provided that reason: Coding.

Pebble Time is the darling of Kickstarter success stories and there’s an awful lot of good in it: battery-charge that lasts a week, slim, lightweight, waterproof, expandable with smart watchbands, the list goes on.

It is not, it must be said, perfect. The obvious comparison is with the Apple watch and the range of Android watches. The trade-off with Pebble Time is that you get an idiosyncratic operating system with no touch-screen, and its power-sipping e-paper screen lacks the vibrancy of its competitors. That’s also the absolute, rather than comparative, problem with Pebble Time – its screen can be hard to see in certain lights, at least with post-45-year-old eyes.

But in addition to the battery life, waterproofing, and so on, the Pebble Time has one huge thing going for it in the geeky world – programming it is so, so simple. Pebble has a cloud IDE and you can program in either C or Javascript. Yes, that’s the exciting bit – you can make the Pebble Time dance with just a few lines of Javascript.

It took me about ten minutes to write a program that with a flick of the wrist will determine which of my two sons gets to sit in the front of the car. A few hours work means I have their school timetables and to-do lists on my wrist. And loading your program onto the watch literally involves pressing one button and then there it is. It really is a joy to behold.

There are a range of off-the-shelf apps for Pebble Time so you don’t have to code. But no generic app is going to do all the things that I want them to. I’ve been playing with controlling my lights from the Pebble Time, with it showing me the fastest way to get home, and with it telling me when my wife leaves work. The best thing about Pebble Time is that ability to make it do what you want it to do.

Now I get that’s only going to be of interest to the geeks and coders amongst us. But if you fall into that category, this is the watch for you. (And if Pebble can update the firmware to be more friendly to poor eye-sight I could probably be happy in saying it’s the watch for everyone.)

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