1. 45
    Pebble's over. android hardware blog.getpebble.com

very sad day for innovation

  1.  

  2. 14

    I backed all 3 of their Kickstarter campaigns. I preferred the form factor, hardware buttons, and battery life over the Apple Watch, and was looking forward to receiving my Pebble Time 2 with a smaller bezel. I’m so disappointed they are going out of business, though I suppose I’m glad I’ll be getting a refund for the PT2 instead of receiving it just before they announced the product was EOL’d with no warranty, no future updates, and no more watchface/app catalog.

    There is Gadgetbridge for Android which will help retain compatibility since Pebble will no longer update their apps, and hopefully something gets made for iOS. Though with no core OS updates and Pebbles being notorious for having their screens go bad, I wonder how long the hardware will remain useful.

    1. 3

      I’ve been really pleased with my pebble time and was looking forward to getting the Pebble Time 2 on the kick starter.

      One of the big advantages was the SDK and the ability to hack the device and the interface.

    2. 10

      It is because of the close collaboration with the Fitbit team that the Pebble user experience will continue. Fitbit will maintain services so that Pebble devices continue to work as normal. Pebble functionality and service may be reduced in the future. We applaud their efforts as we collectively work to streamline this transition for Pebblers everywhere.

      Whenever I buy new gear these days, the question in the back of my mind is: will this work after the company that built it is gone? Not will it get improvements, but will it continue to do what it already does?

      As a history teacher, one thing of great interest to me is how we will understand how today’s devices were supposed to work in the future. When Apple and Google no longer exist, entire swaths of devices will no longer function as they were intended. But there’s not much incentive for companies to build consumer devices that will work with or without the mothership.

      1. 1

        I bought an iRobot Roomba 980 and pretty much all of the features like scheduling and remote activation and history and maintenance tracking are all done through the app with no on-device alternative. All the error messages say “Error 14: Please see the app.” For a device that costs almost a grand, they better keep supporting it. My biggest fear isn’t even if they stop pushing updates but if the app gets taken down. This robot better last me years!

      2. 14

        submitter here. I had the core and the time 2 backed on kickstarter. The core was a truly promising device, for which we had a few software ideas. It’s too bad the hardware/software is not open source; as I’m sure the current userbase would have kept it alive, and a kickstarter for hardware only could have led to interesting forks.

        Few thoughts: it would be cool that have a “shotgun” clause in the constitution documents of kickstarter-backed hardware-software ventures that forces a GPL or MIT licensing of the source and design in the case the company stops being a going concern…

        Also: how is this off-topic? It’s a cool hacking platform that just died. I would appreciate if the downvoters explained their thought process: I joined lobstahs thinking this was a new select group of hackers interested by rad coding platforms and cool tech, of which pebble was a great example?

        1. 9

          it would be cool that have a “shotgun” clause in the constitution documents of kickstarter-backed hardware-software ventures that forces a GPL or MIT licensing of the source and design in the case the company stops being a going concern…

          Or just require MIT and GPL in the first place.

          1. 1

            I’m partial to GPL with optional commercial licenses.

          2. 7

            Judging by the conversation taking place in the comments, this isn’t off topic so don’t worry :)

            I joined lobstahs

            Are you from Boston?

            1. 4

              No, but we vacation in Maine, and that spelling got to me… And love them softshell with buttah:-)

            2. 5

              No idea why three people thought this was off-topic. Thanks for posting it!

              1. 1

                Few thoughts: it would be cool that have a “shotgun” clause in the constitution documents of kickstarter-backed hardware-software ventures that forces a GPL or MIT licensing of the source and design in the case the company stops being a going concern…

                Something rather like this has been done before: https://www.kde.org/community/whatiskde/kdefreeqtfoundation.php

              2. 7

                I’m curious about the “various factors” - maybe the super tiny margins in the hardware market?

                1. 4

                  “C. River Ventures killed Pebble but made a decent return: a $40m return on its $15m investment”

                  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/08/the_vulture_capitalists_killed_pebble/?page=2

                  1. 1

                    That’s really fantastic news. As sad as I am to see the company go away, the folks who created Pebble took a HUGE risk. They deserve a nice payout.

                2. 7

                  The Pebble community is vibrant from what I can tell.

                  What ties the Pebble to upstream manufacturer support? Can an open source ecosystem exist for the device? Can you load your own code on watches? What architecture is the CPU?

                  I know that hardware gets outdated fairly quickly, but I can see these being awesome fun to hack on once the second hand market floods with them.

                  1. 3

                    What ties the Pebble to upstream manufacturer support? Can an open source ecosystem exist for the device? Can you load your own code on watches? What architecture is the CPU?

                    It’s all standard-ish ARM, the toolchain is fine and you can run it locally. But if noone’s making the hardware or parts any more then that doesn’t really help.

                    I know that hardware gets outdated fairly quickly, but I can see these being awesome fun to hack on once the second hand market floods with them.

                    I think people overestimate how much use they’ll get out of small computers. Many of my friends bought raspberries pi. All of them are sitting in drawers unused.

                  2. 7

                    Dang. And I was looking forward to getting a Time 2 :(

                    Any recommendations for alternative smartwatches found by you lobsterites? Most important features I’m looking for (in order):

                    • Open (minimalist-ish) API/general hackability
                    • E-ink screen
                    • Long battery life
                    1. 3

                      I recently got a Martian Notifier watch (around $40 on Amazon right now). It doesn’t quite meet your requirements, but I went looking with similar requirements and ended up settling on this anyway.

                      It’s a traditional analog watch with a little AMOLED strip embedded to display notifications and caller ID and whatnot. The AMOLED display and vibration runs on their own rechargable battery and lasts anywhere from 4-10 days on a charge depending on how many alerts you send to the watch, with the analog clock running on its own replaceable battery that should last around 2 years (so even if you forget to charge it you still get basic time-telling functionality).

                      The API isn’t open, but it’s somewhat hackable using Tasker on a rooted phone, which you can read about in this Reddit thread.

                    2. 5

                      …and so now, once the domain and related remote, internet-based services go dark, so too does your watch, should you ever try to perform a factory reset. (e.g. if you want to wipe data for any reason, your watch becomes a paperweight)

                      Maybe they can release a kit, to run a local activation server, such that re-mapping the domain in /etc/hosts allows for watch activation?

                      1. [Comment removed by author]

                        1. 1

                          “they just don’t seem to be compelling enough to make a viable business for anyone.”

                          For you and me maybe but not “anyone.” They sold 2 million units. There’s a viable business to be found in these things somehow. I know many people liked them for both style and easy notifications. My non-technical brother was an example where he liked not having to whip out his phone for checking texts, the time, or who is calling. Did it all with watch.

                          Note: Since you bring up Dick Tracey, I imagine they could also be extended for use in security as access control tokens. Replace the cards.

                        2. 1

                          Sad indeed.

                          1. 1

                            I owned a pair of original Pebbles (I got a replacement after I broke the first one by banging it against a barrier at a railway station). They were definitely very geeky devices but worked well for my requirements - primarily notifications and being able to check simple data (weather forecast, train times, etc). I’ve since moved on to an Apple Watch which, while far from perfect and nowhere near as hackable, works just as well (and is quite a bit tougher!).

                            Sad to see things end like this but I’m guessing that Fitbit will be using the acquired IP in their product range. I do wonder about Pebble watch reset/activation when Fitbit start decommissioning services - that’s the horrible reality of “connected” devices today :(

                            1. -5

                              Incredible journey, living on at FitBit, yada yada. Flagged.

                              1. 19

                                I’d downvote you because I don’t think this comment contributes to the conversation but you’re not trolling or spamming so none of the flags apply.

                                Anyway, why flag the OP? I feel like this is an appropriate and relevant post for Lobsters.

                                1. 9

                                  Here’s why I flagged it:

                                  • It’s news. It’s not even a product release, it’s a company derelease. That’s something that’s better covered elsewhere.
                                  • There’s nothing anybody here can do about it–it’s not actionable and not particularly informative.
                                  • There’s no technical content beyond “for customers, some future support notes”. I don’t think what amounts to consumer product errata belongs on this site.
                                  • The last half of the article is talking about how great FitBit is, and clearly trying to move the Pebble customers into FitBit customers.

                                  Here’s why I was flippant and coarse in my wording:

                                  • It’s hard to give positive feedback when an article is (in my opinion) off-topic here. I can’t suggest better tags or content when it’s some consumer product story that should never have been posted in the first place.
                                  • When I’m on my phone it’s hard to give the proper writeups that folks would prefer–I don’t actually spend every hour in front of a keyboard arguing with people on the internet…sometimes I go out for lunch!
                                  • I have seen a lot of these posts, and as our community grows (over 6000 users now) this sort of thing is just going to happen more and more. To misquote the Street Fighter movie: for you, this might’ve been the time you saw @angersock fly off the handle and be a terse dick about the topicality of a submission–for me, it was Tuesday.

                                  I’ll try to be a little nicer in the future, but if we keep getting things like consumer product news (two things I hate seeing on here!) I suspect my politeness will wane further.

                                2. 25

                                  I have downvoted you as well. I feel you’ve escalated as the self-appointed moderator of content on lobste.rs and it’s taking away from the experience, for me. I think it’s fine to express why you have flagged or downvoted something, but your tone and language has been, IMO, about you defining what all of us should want here rather than acknowledging that others might have different taste than yourself.

                                  1. 9

                                    I find it harmful to have the attitude that “whatever the community wants” is valid content for lobsters. This is a technology site. It can’t be everything to everyone. While I don’t think this particular article is off-topic, there have been articles lately that are more fluffy than I believe is on-topic for lobsters, and that trend is concerning to some of us.

                                    1. 17

                                      My comment doesn’t say it has to be everything to everyone, just that there are different ways to express what one thinks this place should be and I, personally, don’t find it pleasant how @angersock expresses what he thinks this place should be.

                                      1. 1

                                        As I said elsewhere, I recognize I could be nicer expressing those opinions. I will try to do so. This would be easier if other folks were helping on the submissions front.

                                        1. 11

                                          For myself, it’s not even about being nicer. I dislike how you express yourself because you phrase it in such a way that your belief should apply to me.

                                          1. 2

                                            I’m not really sure how you got that impression from 9 words of my OP. If so, I’m sorry to give off that impression I guess?

                                            1. 6

                                              Sorry for being unclear, my comment was about your general comment history and this particular comment just set me off.

                                            2. -1

                                              I am flaggerbasted how you could have that impression about whatever anyone writes. I am also flaggerbasted how your dislike for something has any relevance whatsoever to anything. It has relevance to yourself. If you don’t like a discussion, don’t participate in it.

                                              I dislike 95% of the posts here (and 99.7% on Hacker News), but this is precisely why I don’t engage with them. The idea that somehow what I dislike should influence anything discussed is an antisocial, antiethical, western idea that I will fiercely reject until the day I die (along with political correctness).

                                              PS: Those numbers are pretty correct, I did a semi-formal study about it.

                                            3. -1

                                              Don’t give up. Your comments are perfectly fine. It’s the discourse police which has to stop.

                                        2. 7

                                          I’m not a moderator, I’m just exercising my privileges (same as you) to provide both downvotes and a rationale for them.

                                          At the risk of sounding like a jerk, I don’t really come here for the different tastes of others. I don’t come here for consumer fanboyism, Musk worship, product shilling, startup navelgazing, politics, news coverage, political handwringing, or any of the other stuff that other folks may have different tastes on–there are other, better sites for that. Similarly, I’m not going to feel bad that you folks don’t come here for articles on bootstrapping companies, information on kink and alternative lifestyles, weird internet fanfics, studies on nutropics, or writeups on religion (outside of the perennial vim/emacs/sublime text argument). I suspect a lot of our users (a plurality, perhaps even majority) feel the same.

                                          Similarly, I come here for the shared tastes of people that know more than I do or who have different viewpoints and resources on things like technical topics, programming, knowledge work, and engineering. The signal-to-noise ratio of the site is boosted specifically because of that stuff…you only get signal when you have filtered out noise. You only filter out the noise when you stand up and say “Hey, this is a fine article, but it doesn’t belong here.”

                                          Culture–another word for norms used to create certain signal/noise filters–dies through inaction and regression to the mean. As we grow, we’re going to get more folks (and hence more submissions) that will include topics that aren’t technical in the sense Lobsters has been so far. If we don’t feel comfortable calling that out, we will wakeup in a couple of years to find ourselves logging into HN or Slashdot or /g/.

                                          There’s this weird failure mode of nerds and engineers which causes them to be unable to protect their own culture and interests in the name of being more inclusive, out of fear of being mean–I don’t intend to exhibit that failure mode.

                                          1. 7

                                            There’s this weird failure mode of nerds and engineers which causes them to be unable to protect their own culture and interests in the name of being more inclusive, out of fear of being mean–I don’t intend to exhibit that failure mode.

                                            I take some issue with declaring this a “failure mode.” I’m not sure what particular context you’re applying this to, but assuming that we’re talking about news content, it’s absolutely not true. Technology is rapidly creating major changes in other industries, and it’s important for technologists to be aware of (and discuss) the consequences of the products and tools that we create. imo, it’s incredibly close-minded to look at technology in a vacuum without discussion about its effects on people, society and businesses.

                                            1. 11

                                              The About section is pretty vague. It just says “technology-focused”. Maybe a constructive way to spend your time would be to help define a more restrictive view on what lobste.rs should be. For myself, your posts consistently sound like lobste.rs is your own personal site and anything you don’t like shouldn’t be on it.

                                              1. -3

                                                Maybe a constructive way to spend your time would be to help define a more restrictive view on what lobste.rs should be.

                                                Wow. Scheduling other people’s time? What arrogance.

                                                I find his comments very constructive. I would find bikeshedding about rules a grave error, deeply anticonstructive, and frankly offensive to me.

                                                1. 5

                                                  At no point did I schedule anyone’s time. I offered a suggestion clarifying the rules. Clearly not everyone agrees that the content @angersock thinks is off-topic is off-topic. He’s free to not take up my suggestion.

                                          2. 6

                                            I have also downvoted you. The reason being is I don’t like how you’ve situated yourself as the “in house troll”. You live by the sword… yada yada.

                                            1. 3

                                              You seem to have gotten some flak here. I can see shrapnel holes in your wings. I suspect that this is mostly due to HOW you said what you said, rather than what you said and the flagging itself (which again you could chose to leave anonymous).

                                              Your statement, which I personally expanded to mean “Not another insincere blog post about an aqui-hire”, I feel is not totally justified here - the pebble watch was an interesting experiment. It’s an actual hardware “thing” - in many ways this is a much harder/riskier enterprise than a software only “thing” and as a community of hackers this is probably pretty relevant to a large part of the audience, especially since it was a hackable watch. I’m not very familiar with it, but it reminded me of the Handspring visor, which I had a lot of fun writing software for.

                                              The actual financial aspects of the aqui-hire are probably not of so much core interest, but such a post is kind of a nucleus for people to comment on their own experiences with the pebble and their thoughts on the technology etc., so I can see such a submission being a positive contribution and not a nucleus for some controversial political/social topic which everyone has an opinion on, which in the end, turns out not to be so productive.

                                              (PS. I upvoted you because I don’t like downvotes (which is a form of censorship) and you didn’t have anything that attacked any person or group, so you did not pass my filter for censorship.)

                                              1. 4

                                                I upvoted you because I don’t like downvotes (which is a form of censorship)

                                                How do downvotes equate to censorship exactly? Sure the post is displayed less prominently, but it isn’t deleted. If decreasing relative post rank is censorship than upvoting would be too.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Hi @gambogi, you will note that now you can’t see the OP - it’s grayed out and you have to click the + to see it. I personally like to reserve this treatment for actually disruptive behavior.