My FitBit Force Fail. My Pebble Watch Win.

By Jennifer Keegin.

So have you noticed all the tech companies scrambling to make wearable devices? Things we used to call watches? Now they’re “smart watches” or “health monitors” etc? It makes sense. These puppies do a lot more than tell you the time. If you don’t know what I’m going on about, you can see what I’m talking about here.

I myself had noticed the Pebble smartwatch at some point, most likely on Pinterest when it was a Kickstarter project. Sounded like a tech dork’s kind of fun. Watch. Connected to my phone. Lets me check emails and texts without looking at my phone. But at the time, it seemed a neat idea but not something I had money to put into. It was the first of any kind of smart watch I had seen.

Zoom ahead to December of 2013 (just six months ago). I was extremely in love with my FitBit Force. Watch. Counts steps. Knows how many flights of stairs I took. Calculates how many hours I sleep at night. I had gotten the Force with Christmas money and it was such a great purchase. I needed a watch because I had recently found out that I had a nickel allergy and couldn’t wear just any old watch. When I saw that a new version of the FitBit was out and it was a watch – I knew it was for me. I wanted to improve my health and my healthy lifestyle so this was going to be perfect. Except when it wasn’t. I was in heaven for almost two months. I had charged my Force twice – and then the rash showed up. This second charge is something many folks who dealt with the “Force Rash” had in common. I thought it was a nickel allergy again – I had gone two months without any issues.

Fit bit

Who knows what’s really going on with those Force units. Many many people started to get “The Rash” and so now they don’t even sell the Force anymore. The company gave anyone who had issues their money back. I got my money back and immediately started looking for a replacement watch. That’s when I realized the Pebble was for sale. On Amazon. In Best Buy. I knew my next move.


The Pebble is a smartwatch developed by Pebble Technology and released in 2013 that was funded via the crowd funding platform Kickstarter. It features a black and white e-paper display, a vibrating motor, a magnetometer, ambient light sensors and an accelerometer, enabling its use as an activity tracker. The Pebble is compatible with Android and iOS devices. When connected to a phone, it can receive a vibrating alert to text messages, emails, incoming calls, and notifications from social media accounts. It can also act as a remote controller for the phone, or for cameras such as the GoPro. As of February 2014, the Pebble app store had over 1000 applications.

The Pebble raised $10.3 million for Kickstarter, making it the most successful product funded through that company up until then. Best Buy, an American consumer electronics corporation, began selling Pebble smartwatches in July of 2013, and sold out within five days. –  Wikipedia

Let me say right of the gate, there aren’t many ladies rockin’ the Pebble at this point. They are fairly large. I am a fan of chunky watches, so I don’t mind. However, it’s not for everyone. My favorite part of the Pebble? Customization. Hands down, thumbs up. I can add apps, new watch faces etc. for anything. I made a watch face for my ACUI Conference. I got a Elsa from Frozen watch face to make my daughter happy.

But here’s the thing. You must be prepared to work with the device. Here’s what I mean. First you download the Pebble app so the phone can communicate with the watch. Then you download apps within that app to then go on your phone. You can only have 8 apps at any one time and watch faces count. Then if you download an app for the watch, you may also need to download an actual app on your phone. Confused yet?

It takes some time to learn how to maneuver everything and you can’t get frustrated. Okay, so you added a pedometer type app on the watch. Great, but it won’t work if you don’t have a matching app (that might not be free) on your phone. This isn’t always the case, hence you have to make sure you read up on each app.

There’s a second app (for your phone) that helps you find cool watch faces. There’s a program (online) that will help you create your own watch face. But again, you need to be a little savvy in order to make it all work. But there’s big benefits. I can play Spotify (not just iTunes!) on my phone while exercising and then control the songs via my watch. I can see who is texting me on the sly in a meeting. I can see who is calling me during an event to see if I need to pull out my phone. Some watch faces will help me monitor the battery life (which is up to a week on one charge!) and some will tell me the current weather readout.

Which leads me to another point. If you want to be connected to your phone and get these snazzy notifications, your phone cannot be too far away. I can’t make it down the hall before the device buzzes to let me know I’m out of range. (It has actually helped me once or twice to realize I’ve left my phone behind which was handy).

I really like my Pebble although sometimes it’s glitchy. The team running the show seems to be slow to respond to customer tweets and etc which is disappointing and they still seem to be a starter company at heart. However, the ideas are sound and the new steel versions are hot.

Let me know if you have any questions about either device. Or experiences you’ve had.

Oh, and after a year away – it’s good to be back!


My FitBit Force Fail. My Pebble Watch Win.