12 cool Pebble watch apps and tricks

The Kickstarter wonder-watch didn't have a lot of capabilities when it first launched. But then came the developers.

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When the Pebble smartwatch shipped to early Kickstarter backers in early March (including myself), one of its biggest faults was that it lacked the kind of clever apps and service integration cited in its Kickstarter video pitch. A few months later, the third-party development community has started to fill in those faults, as they so often do.

Here, then, are a few links to neat Pebble apps and projects that are not easy to find from the official Pebble site and app. Pebble does link to a few interesting Pebble pieces from its Twitter account and Kickstarter update posts, so following those can help widen your exposure.

Phone apps that upgrade Pebble (mostly Android)

Pebble Notifier: As noted in my Pebble reviews, the default Pebble app for Android can send over notifications and messages from a number of apps: Gmail, email, Google Voice, text messaging, phone calls, Twitter, Facebook, calendar reminders, Google Talk, and WhatsApp messaging. But you might use a third-party Twitter client, enjoy Google+ or Tumblr, or get other notifications you'd like passed along. Grab and put a check next to all the apps you want to get pings from.

Pushover: If you're a server geek, developer, or fan of IFTTT, this app is a crucial notification tool. It can receive signals from a number of server-watching, data-trading sources, and also through an If-This-Then-That recipe that you set up. Once Pushover is pinged on your phone, it can also ping Pebble.

RunKeeper (iPHone, too): Expect to see quite a few fitness apps integrate with Pebble and other connected watches soon, but right now, RunKeeeper is tops. It pushes a real-time feed of your distance, activity time, and pace to your watchface, whether you're running, cycling, or otherwise moving about.

FreeCaddie Golf GPS: FreeCaddie figures out which course you're on, locates you, then tells you how far it is to the pin. It is far more convenient to glance at your watch for that than to pull out your phone before every stroke.

Tasker: Tasker is a super-nerdy, super-powerful automation engine for Android. With Pebble Notifier installed, you are now able to get notifications when your battery is low, when you're near certain areas, or on pretty much any condition your phone can possibly know about.

Pebble Tasker: Instead of teaching Tasker to watch for things and trigger actions, you can grab this combo Android/Pebble app and use it to fire off the actions you've created, from any of the three buttons on the side.

Glance: Perhaps the most ambitious Pebble-focused app around. Its watch face shows a weather icon, time (more than one zone, if you'd like), and date. When you receive text messages, you can hit a Pebble button to reply with a canned message (such as "I'm driving, will respond soon"). It also shows calendar appointments in a more full-focus fashion than the standard ping. It's a really clever upgrade, currently in beta.

Third-party on-watch apps

lcars_face_0.jpgImage via MyPebbleFaces.com
Make it so.

These come from My Pebble Faces, the main repository for all kinds of Pebble apps and watchfaces. The easiest way to grab a ".pbw" watch face or app is to visit the app/face page on the phone that you connect to your Pebble. Click to download the .pbw file, and the Pebble app should automatically pick up that file and install it. Android users could download in a browser and transfer the file to your phone, then open it in a file browser on your phone (like Astro, and let the Pebble app pick it up. But the mobile browser is the way to go.

Stopwatch app: Just like it sounds. It has nice multi-lap and reset options.

Countdown: A simple app that counts down in 30-second increments, then buzzes on your wrist when it hits 0. Great for coffee and tea snobs, quick kitchen tasks, and other needs.

Authenticator: More of a proof-of-concept than a polished app, and it requires compiling the app yourself. But if you use Google's two-factor Authenticator tool, you can now view the codes on your Pebble watch.

Shopping with Pebble: Create and check off really simple shopping lists ("Coffee," "Eggs," "Milk," "Bananas," and so on) from your watch. Phone-based editing coming soon, it seems.

LCARS: It's just a watchface, really, but it's based on Star Trek's time displays. And it shows the current Unix epoch at GMT +1. If any of that means anything you you, you'll probably want to go ahead and grab this.

Any other nifty Pebble tricks or watch faces I missed?

Read more of Kevin Purdy's Mobilize! blog and follow Kevin on Twitter (@kevinpurdy) and Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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