Pebble Promises Not to Brick Its Watches Until 2018

By Christina Warren on at

Pebble is dead. You might recall that last week, the company sold off its assets to fitness tracker company Fitbit. Pebble watches will no longer be sold, its warranties will no longer be supported, and replacement accessories will now only be available through third parties. Now Pebble has promised that it won’t shut down the servers that keep the apps on the watch working until 2018.

Pebble watches, like lots of smart devices, rely on cloud servers to work. Apps on the Pebble watch don’t actually run on the watch itself, instead, they talk to the Pebble app on your Android or iOS phone, which in turn talk to servers maintained by Pebble. With Pebble dead, there was a very real possibility that Fitbit could just shut all the servers down, effectively killing apps and core services. We’ve seen that happen before, as in the case of the Revolv Smart Hub, which was disconnected from home base by the manufacturer’s new owner Google earlier this year.

On its developer blog, Pebble wrote that Fitbit is committed to keeping stuff working until 2018.

Fitbit is going out of its way to keep Pebble software and services running through 2017. To be clear, no one on this freshly-formed team seeks to brick Pebble watches in active service. The Pebble SDK, CloudPebble, Timeline APIs, firmware availability, mobile apps, developer portal, and Pebble appstore are all elements of the Pebble ecosystem that will remain in service at this time. Pebble developers are welcome to keep creating and updating apps. Pebble users are free to keep enjoying their watches.

This means that your apps should continue to work—unless something changes with the ways those individual apps work, which given how quickly things change could happen sooner than you think.

Regarding the existing Pebble mobile app, Pebble says it will work on updating it so that it isn’t as dependent on “a patchwork of cloud servers,” which would allow some core functions to work further into future, even past 2o17.

Pebble also says that the Pebble Health features shouldn’t be impacted by the Fitbit acquisition because they talk directly with the HealthKit on iOS and Google Fit on Android. Again, this sounds great, but don’t expect this to work seamlessly forever because if Apple or Google changes how their health software works, your Pebble isn’t going to get an update to work along with it.

The bottom line is that existing Pebble owners have a year of reprieve before they can expect their stuff to start shutting down or not working accurately.