Pebble Introduces Its Own Health Tracking App

Pebble's smartwatches have worked with third-party health tracking apps in the past but now will have their very own app from Pebble.  

Pebble, Pebble Time, smartwatches, wearables, Pebble Time Round, Pebble Time Steel, iOS, Android, Apple Watch

Pebble smartwatches now can be used with the company's own native Pebble Health app that provides health tracking information for wearers. In the past, Pebble smartwatch users had to use their devices with third-party health tracking apps to keep abreast of their calories burned, distance covered and more.

The new Pebble Health app, which was unveiled in a Dec. 15 post on the Get Pebble Blog, is part of the latest Pebble Time firmware Version 3.8 for Android and 3.5 for iOS that's now available for download and installation. It is available for the Pebble Time, the Time Steel and the Time Round smartwatches from Pebble.

Pebble Health is a fully native activity tracking app that integrates with the timeline feature in the company's watches. The app and its capabilities were developed in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University to track a user's daily activity and automatically detect their sleep phases. The app gives users information about how much sleep time they receive, as well as a report at the end of the day about how many steps they took.

The new capabilities are installed on the devices when a user updates the watch's firmware.

The app keeps track of a user's daily steps and measures them against their daily average, according to Pebble, while also providing weekly graphs of step and sleep stats so users can see their trends over time.

The new app is fully compatible with Google Fit and Apple HealthKit as well, so that users can use it side by side with other apps they might already be using.

An upcoming Health API from the company early in 2016 is expected to help app developers continue to add new watch faces and features for its products, the company said.

The Pebble Health app was created through a partnership with the Stanford Wearable Health lab and researchers who are exploring a transparent health and medical standard for wearable data collection and study, according to Pebble.

"Transparency at the algorithmic level is an essential missing piece in the progress toward making wearables valid for use in health applications," Dr. Christy Lane of Stanford's Wearable Health Lab, said in a statement. "By making the right data available, Pebble Health allows us to perform proper validation studies on activity tracking for the first time. This eliminates questions about the validity of data collected using these devices, and removes barriers for researchers and clinicians. Now, methods for collection of wearable health data will be transparent, allowing health professionals to apply previous insights to new data."

The latest firmware also brings support for Pebble's Timeline feature to the company's other smartwatches.

The latest Pebble Time Round smartwatch went on sale in November for $249 as the company's first round fashion smartwatch following a string of four popular rectangular smartwatch models over the last several years. The watch can be purchased with either a 14mm or 20mm wide band and comes in silver or black finishes, along with a wide range of leather band colors and styles. A special-edition rose-gold finish is available only with a 14mm band.

The Pebble Time Round features a battery life of up to two days, 15-minute quick charging that provides one day's use, splash resistance, an always-on color display, a built-in microphone for replying to messages, a marine-grade stainless-steel chassis and bezel, and tactile buttons for easier control of its functions. The watch face is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass for scratch resistance.

In October, Pebble boosted the voice-recognition capabilities of its growing line of smartwatches with a new API that will allow apps developers to build deeper voice capabilities into their software for Pebble products. The Dictation API is expected to expand the creation of more apps with voice-recognition features to allow wider hands-free use of Pebble smartwatches for everything from connected cars to smart homes and more, according to the company.

Also in October, Pebble added new health- and fitness- tracking capabilities to its original Pebble smartwatch and dropped its price to $99 from its previous $150 price tag, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The upgrades include new non-stop activity tracking and sleep monitoring.

In early August, Pebble unveiled its Pebble Time Steel model, which features a stainless steel body that's available in three different colors, starting at $249.99.

The Pebble Time Steel is a variant of the company's Pebble Time smartwatch that was unveiled in June, which includes a stainless-steel bezel and a non-metal body. The Pebble Time Steel is available with a 22mm-wide Italian leather watchband for $249.99 or with a stainless steel band for $299.98.

The Pebble devices work with compatible iOS and Android smartphones, although not all iOS notification features will work. They work with Apple's iPhone 4S and above running iOS 8, and with all Android devices running Android 4.0 and above.

The company's smartwatches are also built with protection against water damage and can be worn in the shower, in swimming pools or during outdoor activities in inclement weather. They have water resistance to 98.4 feet, or about 30 meters, according to Pebble.