iOS 6 Update and iPhone 5
Bit of news: Apple released an update to iOS this week. iOS 6 is available for free on all the phones that Pebble supports (iPhone 3GS and up). We've had access to iOS 6 through the iOS Developers program for the last few months, and we've been testing our software with both iOS 5 and 6. The big news in iOS 6 is a new Bluetooth profile called MAP. We've integrated a MAP receiver into Pebble, but we still have a bit more testing to do with the iPhone 5. So far it's working really well! There is no reason Pebble should not work perfectly with iPhone 5.
Samples from our Plastics Factory
I mentioned in Update 17 that we were about to start the injection molding process. Creating molds or 'tools' is hard, literally. The process involves carving a Pebble-shaped cavity out of hard steel blocks and even with our accelerated schedule, it took 6 weeks. We had to make separate tools for each of the pieces of the watch (buttons, case, lens, strap).
After weeks of work, we ran the first test shots of the mold. It's awesome to see the long, hard work of our industrial designer, tool designers and mechanical team pay off.
This is an important step towards mass production. Steve, our industrial designer, is in Taiwan right now evaluating samples which are literally hot off the presses. We think they look great for first shots, though we've got a bunch of tweaks to make to ensure that all plastic components work and look perfect. The only color we've made so far is black because we can't afford the down-time needed to fully clean the tool. As soon as we have samples in other colors, we will post pictures.
We will leave color selection open past Sept 30 at account.getpebble.com (Entries can be submitted past Sept 30 now). We will email all backers before closing color selection.
Case assembled with lens and strap (but missing buttons)
Top and bottom of the case
Tons of buttons!
Steve, our industrial designer, was on-site in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and took a bunch more photos (full album).
Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Progress
In parallel to the plastics work, we've made several revisions of the circuit board. With each revision we eliminate more bugs and improve the design. In response to a problem we had with the antenna, we created 3 different potential designs and then prototyped and tested each sample extensively inside an anechoic chamber. The best design prevailed and we've integrated that solution into our PCB.
We've got the whole team working extremely hard on Pebble, but there is a lot of work left to do.
On the software and firmware side, we're in the process of strenuously testing Pebble's ability to receive new updates wirelessly via a smartphone. This means that even after you receive your Pebble, you can update the software on your watch simply by tapping a button on your phone. Our software team is also busy writing the underlying code for Pebble's customizable user interface, as well as the apps, like watchfaces, notifications and more, that run on top of the Pebble operating system.
Now that our plastic manufacturing process is up and running, we're able to make lots of test units and iron out the kinks in the software, as well as the hardware manufacturing process. We've designed a strenuous test plan that will put Pebble through its paces. Right now (before we go into mass production) each aspect of the design, from water resistance to button presses to battery lifecycle, is being tested. Then when the factory is in full production mode, every single watch will be tested to be in compliance with our quality requirements.
(This section has been reposted on our forums for discussion)
The last update we've published about Pebble's Software Development Kit (SDK) was in June, when we described what the Pebble Android SDK would look like and launched developer.getpebble.com. Since then we've been pretty quiet on the subject.
I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about our roadmap towards creating an awesome developer environment on Pebble. At the moment, we're focusing 95% of our software effort on writing the base operating system and features for Pebble, on top of test routines that run in our factory. The sheer amount of work is enough to keep our 5 person software team quite busy. We feel it's important to build a strong foundation that's highly usable for both users as well as developers.
Part of that foundation is the ability for Pebble to easily run third-party apps. We've built this into the core architecture of our OS. The following is our plan to enable developers to create software that works with Pebble. Please keep in mind that this is a roadmap, we'll be releasing more info over time.
- Android SDK: It's easy to integrate new or existing Android apps with Pebble. Our SDK uses intent messaging, allowing other apps to push messages, notifications or even sports data to Pebble. As soon as Pebble ships, developers will be able to use the API calls described on developer.getpebble.com to integrate their apps with Pebble
- Notification API: Web developers will be able to add Pebble integration to their webapps as well. We're building an OAuth 2.0-enabled endpoint linked to the Pebble Account system. After asking Pebble users to authenticate, Notification API-enabled webapps will be able to push notifications, alerts and other data directly to a Pebble. The API takes care of all the communication between the web, phone and Pebble.
- Watchface SDK: All the tools needed to create your own custom watchface for Pebble. This is our first experiment with 3rd party code running directly on Pebble's microcontroller. Developer tools and documentation are the most difficult part of this SDK stage.
- iOS SDK: Things are a bit more complex on iOS. There is no simple method for doing interprocess communication between apps. We're pursuing a few different options. We're confident that the solutions we're building will work.
- Expanded Native SDK: At this stage we'll expand the featureset of the native development platform introduced with the Watchface SDK. Think games, sleep trackers, remote controls and other more complex apps.
Thanks for bearing with me through this long update. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for backing Pebble!
Eric + Pebble Team