Pebble Addresses Early iOS Bluetooth, Android Fragmentation Issues, And Battery Issues

Pebble, the smart watch that set the world on fire with its Kickstarter project, is already encountering a few growing pains as its device begins to trickle out to the earliest backers. Chief among those issues is a problem that sees iOS notifications for email turn off whenever an iPhone or iPod touch has its Bluetooth connection interrupted. Problems are also cropping up around different Android OEMs and the stock email apps they use not necessarily being compatible with Pebble, iOS caller ID issues and differing support for various Android ROMs, among others.

Pebble itself acknowledged these and other issues in an email to Kickstarter project supporters today, identifying which issues they’re working on and what their top priorities are. The iOS email problem, which can be fixed somewhat with an awkward workaround. Pebble says that they’ve talked about this problem with Apple’s developer support department, but doesn’t think that that’s necessarily a route they can expect a solution from anytime soon. Instead, they say finding a solution is their “#1 priority iOS task,” and they’re currently looking to gather feedback from the iOS user pool to help them address it.

Other issues highlighted in the email include problems like HTC and Samsung devices not delivering email notifications to the Pebble properly from the default email apps used by those OEMs, Pebble interfering with proper Siri functionality on iOS and more. Here’s a complete list, as quoted from the email sent by the Pebble team.

  • Email notifications from the default email app on HTC and some other Android devices are not being delivered to Pebble yet. On other default email apps (Samsung in particular) do not transmit email contents. Working on it.
  • Some Pebbles are rebooting after receiving some notifications. If this happens to you regularly, use the Contact or Email support button inside the app to send us debug logs.
  • iOS Caller ID. We’ve identified a bug that prevents a caller’s name from appearing on Pebble. Will have a fix in the next iOS Pebble App version.
  • Android two factor authentication – click here for instructions
  • Watchfaces not loading on iOS. Fixed in the next version of the iOS app.
  • Battery indicator: we’re seeing reports of Pebble battery lasting from 2-7 days. It seems to be related to the variety of different Bluetooth connections on different phones. The first thing we’re working on is improving the battery logging and how Pebble alerts you when the battery is almost empty. Then we’ll move to improving battery life across the board.
  • Android ROMs: we’ll do our best, but unfortunately we cannot promise support for the entire wide world of Andriod ROMs out there. We’re testing with stock devices from HTC, Samsung, Nexus (among others) and always on the stock OS.- Pebble seems to interfere with Siri on iOS devices. Working on this problem.

Issues are to be expected with a device that’s so new to market, and essentially just reaching its first users now. But many of these involve basic Pebble functionality, including the ability to transmit information from your phone to your watch about basic things like incoming calls and email. And the battery issues are another core element of the watch’s appeal, and one which users are likely to find fairly disappointing.

More worrying than these are issues that don’t seem to have an imminent solution. Pebble says it will fix some of these issues in the next update for iOS, including the caller ID problem and the issue around being able to change watch faces, but other things like the Siri interference and Bluetooth connection problems don’t have any kind of projected timeline for a solution. And the Android fragmentation problem is one even Pebble admits is too big to ever completely tackle.

My Pebble is still in the mail, so I’m reserving judgement on the device until I can actually get to try it out, but these early problems aren’t that encouraging. At least the team seems intent on addressing the issues to the best of their ability early, which could help get things ironed out before the Pebble is in the hands of more actual users.