Bar Finder locates the closest pubs and bars, and delivers the details and direction straight to your Pebble Watch.

After tinkering with my Pebble Watch for a few weeks, it seemed like time to get my head round the development kit and actually produce a working prototype. This would let us see what it could actually do, and highlight any opportunities.

Apps for Pebble come in a few flavours, each with different types and combinations of functionality:

– Watch apps which operate solely on the device. An example might be a stopwatch app, which can simply use the screen, buttons and internal timer.
– Watch apps which leverage a popular companion app called ‘HttpPebble’ to access smartphone functionality such as internet connectivity and GPS.
– Smartphone apps that use the ‘Sport SDK’ of the Pebble watch to display data. RunKeeper uses this to give the user a readout of their distance and speed, and requires no specific Pebble app – it just works.
– Watch apps with custom, companion smartphone apps to create bespoke functionality.

We all like a beer after work, and figured it might be nice to have a Pebble app which suggested the closest bars to your current location. Foursquare was an obvious choice for this – their API is simple, well documented, has a generous quota and Venues search doesn’t require a user to sign in.

HTTPPebble could have achieved what I wanted as it allows for HTTP requests, and geolocation – but it would leave much of the grunt work and data handling to the pebble watch (requiring me to get much better at C very quickly!) when the iPhone could do this far quicker and simply send the formatted results.

Development was quick. The Pebble SDK documentation leaves something to be desired compared to Apple’s however their PebbleKit repository on GitHub has plenty of demo projects that you can pick apart and figure out how things work.

The quickest route to getting started, as opposed to setting up my Mac to compile Pebble apps, was to use the fantastic CloudPebble. This browser based IDE just works, takes away much of the faff of organising app resources and also provides and handy QR code to install the app to your watch. The only thing missing from the whole development process is a decent simulator… Come on Pebble!

The Pebble SDK is still in relative infancy, some hardware systems aren’t yet open for developer access and I’m still hoping Pebble will integrate much of the HTTPPebble functionality into their core app. These are all things that Pebble are surely working on, and I’m looking forward to seeing how developers get to grips with creating new products on one of the first open, wearable platforms.

 

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