Our First Steps In Wearable App Development: Application For Pebble Watch

June 10, 2014

Wearables is one of the most popular themes for discussion in the tech world today. Both entrepreneurs and customers are eager to know if it is the new big thing or not. There is quite a lot of different forecasts and many of them are reduced to the sharp growth of wearables’ market share in upcoming years. For example one source estimates that its value will reach 8 billion dollars in 2018, while another gives a more positive prognosis and talks about as much as 19 billion dollars. However wearables are definitely worth your attention to test new opportunities in a tech world.

Having been in the mobile world for more than 5 years we embody different clients’ ideas, learn new technologies and try new methodologies in work. We changed our course from web-development to mobile right after the App Store launch and released our first app in January 2009. Our first Android application was released in autumn 2009, at the very beginning of the Android Era.

Who knows?  Maybe now is the right time to switch to wearables apps :).

The idea stage

The idea to create an app for wearables (especially for Pebble smartwatch or Google glass) sounded pretty interesting to us. We wanted to try new platforms and test their potential.

Our first experiment with an app for Pebble smartwatch resulted in the Magic Face app for Pebble that was released on May 29. It brings good old Magic 8-Ball onto your Pebble watch screen and with an easy tap or shake you get a magic prediction.
Magic Face additionally shows the time, battery level, and bluetooth connection.

You can download Magic Face in the Pebble market.

Development process

The whole process of development took us about a week. It’s really simple to write on Pebble platform – SDK is well organized and available on the main site. Plus, you can find a lot of open sources with needed info, for example we used this.

It was a little bit unusual to use C language, so its like moving backward and recalling in memory the basic principles that have been used in the past. Because of the language simplicity, the functional is limited, but we believe it’s only the beginning.

Talking about design, we must mention the words of our designer, Oleg Sheremet, who worked on this project: “It was fun to draw using only black and white pixels. It’s like a time machine. I wasn’t there for the era of bicolor design for old phones and now I have got this opportunity.” Really, the dichromatic palitra facilitates the task, but 144 x 168 px screen size turns the process of drawing into real “pixel art”.

To combine shaking/tapping and the appearance of new predictions we used an accelerometer so there was nothing difficult. By the way, there is a great opportunity for those who want to develop something for Pebble watch to concentrate on sport apps with the simple use of GPS or internet functions.

The process of release on Pebble Appstore is very simple – you just create an account, add description with screenshots (like in the App Store), and in a few seconds your app is already public.

During the first day we received about 100 users :).

What is next?

Thinking about future opportunities it must be said that Pebble has started really successfully – there are about 400 000 users and the market continues to grow, so you can predict the potential auditory in a few years.

Now it’s used for basic things like calendars, reminders, apps dashboards etc., but it gives new opportunities for developers to communicate with app users. It’s not very clear what the monetization abilities are, but in the future it can be binded to wider application’s functional.

We plan to continue our experiments with Pebble and create an app for our Simple Finance to show the expenditure statistics and the calendar of payments on Pebble watch screen.