Last week I picked up a Pebble smart watch. It’s been pretty cool thus far. I can change the watch face, and it can display my upcoming contacts. I do so love having my todo list on my wrist. It’ll do a lot of other things as well, but mostly what it does is interface with your smartphone to use its sensors to create an augmented display.
One of the things I was really jazzed for was displaying some navigation data on my wrist on our recent trip to Mission Bay. Let me just say, it was a bust.
To get the Pebble to display most anything, you need a companion app on the smartphone. In this case, I use my MotoX on Republic Wireless to push information to the watch via bluetooth. On the trip I got countless notifications from my phone that my troops were ready to go on Clash of Clans, so I know the connection was functioning all over the boat.
Getting GPS data intended for sailors on the phone is remarkably easy. SailDroid does it well and for free. But, to my knowledge, SailDroid does not interface with the Pebble. Okay, so I went out in search of a program that does. It turns out that iRegatta (available on both Android and iOS) does push data to the Pebble. For a price.
To get the basic functionality I wanted, which was Speed Over Ground, and a Distance to Waypoint, you had to buy the basic version of the app for about $10, and then the Pebble functionality for another $4.
Okay, card charged, phone interfaced, and… nothing. I rebooted both phone and watch, and that seemed to make it work.
Of course, its hard to test this speed over ground stuff when you’re sitting in your office chair. So I had to wait until we were out on the water to really give it a go.
Ultimately, it didn’t work as advertised. The phone and watch just would not stay connected. What I saw 90% of the time was what you see above. A blank, or data-less, screen. The added bummer was that in this mode the phone didn’t display the time… so it was less than useless.
I’m very disappointed by the performance of the whole setup. Blame wrests with iRegatta I suspect. The interface of the app is clunky, and the watch remained connected to the phone to introduce other notifications and weather data as we sailed down the coast. I would expect more for $14 or $15. Remember, that’s for basic functionality. You go ahead and give it a shot and let me know what I’m doing wrong… I’m always up for the ‘user error’ explanation!
Did it work? Kinda, but not reliably. I’ll be looking for other solutions in the future.
SailDroid – A- (we need Pebble functionality)
iRegatta – F+ (less clunky, more worky)
Pebble – A (visible in daylight and waterproof? Yes!)