It’s been over a year since Pebble went bust. Fitbit, who bought the company’s technical assets and absorbed some of the team, pledged to keep Pebble’s servers running until the end of 2017. We’re now well past that expiry date, and the day may soon come when Fitbit decides to turn out the lights, leaving users with no access to weather data, voice replies or an app store.
At that point Pebblers will have three options: make do with what they’ve got, regain the ability to sideload apps and watchfaces with GadgetBridge or install Rebble, an entirely new OS, on their watch.
Progress on Rebble has been slow—as you can probably imagine, building a custom smartwatch operating system from scratch is no small feat. But this week the team posted a rare update, one that immediately shot to the top of r/Pebble. Here’s a summary of their progress thus far:
- New splash screen (see above);
- Rebble can now be run in an emulator;
- Bluetooth is now working;
- Preliminary support for Pebble apps and watchfaces.
With such slow progress you might be asking, why even bother? The Rebble team has an answer for that:
It’s a fact that no new Pebble hardware is being produced, ever. It’s been over a year since Pebble closed its doors and as such there are a finite number of devices out there, and their ZEBRA connectors are going wonky, their cases are suddenly ingressing water, and their batteries are getting one charge closer to failure
each dayevery 4-10 days. But while Pebble hardware may remain frozen in time, technology marches on. New versions of Android and iOS continue to be released, along with new hardware, and with every major release we all cringe and utter “will our Pebbles still work”? Well that’s part of why we’re building new apps, appstores and firmware – but another exciting reason for creating our own open-source, FreeRTOS-based OS is that it opens the door to other Pebble fans or even large smartwatch manufacturers in Shenzhen to build their own new hardware in the spirit of Pebble/Rebble!
While GadgetBridge will probably remain my go-to solution, what this community of developers is trying to accomplish is certainly admirable. If you want to get involved see the first link directly below.