30 June 2018. Mark your diaries/add to your calendars Pebble smartwatch owners, because that's the day Fitbit finally turns off the servers that have been keeping a bunch of features live for Pebblers.
Your Pebble watch will still work after the servers are shut, but you will have to wave bye bye to features that require the cloud support Fitbit has kept open for longer than it had initially promised. So features like voice recognition support, SMS and email replies, Timeline pins from third party apps and access to Pebble's app store and forum will be gone.
Essential reading: The race to rebuild Pebble before Fitbit ends support
We know, it's going to be tough going, but all is not lost thanks to Rebble, a project set up by ex-Pebble developers that are preparing to reinstate some of the features that will be removed come 30 June.
So if panic is starting to set in, here's what you need to know about Rebble and what you need to do to keep using some of those core Pebble features.
Got any questions? Let us know in the comments section below.
How Rebble will work
Rebble was set up around the time that Pebble decided to cease operations. The essential aim was to keep the platform that powered many of its services and features live through the help of Pebble developers and enthusiasts.
In February 2018, Rebble announced Rebble Web Services, its solution to keep core elements of the Pebble ecosystem live including offering an app store, firmware updates and the ability to create mobile apps. The hope is to get as many of the services as possible live in time for the Fitbit server shutdown.
The idea is that once the services are up and running it will simply be a case of clicking a link on the Rebble website from your phone to switch over from Pebble to Rebble services and it will work with existing iOS and Android companion Pebble apps. That should mean there's nothing additional to download or install to make the switchover. There may be some firmware updates issued to make things go over smoothly, but that will apparently be installed automatically.
According to the latest blog post on Rebble's homepage, it's not been decided which features that Rebble promised to reinstate will be ready in time for the end of June/beginning of July. Regardless of what is set to go, it seems that features like notification support, Pebble Health and any apps already installed will still work. The same can be said of Pebble apps and watch faces (aside from ones that create timeline pins).
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This is really important. To get ready for when Fitbit shuts things down, you'll need a Rebble account because you won't be able to log in to your Pebble account after 30 June.
The team behind Rebble has sought to make the process as easy as possible to replace your logins so head to the set up a Rebble account page and sign up through Google, Twitter, Facebook or Github logins that will provide the back up logins for your Rebble one. For now, that's all you need to do and until the Rebble Web Service have gone live.
Pebble features that will remain via Rebble
Rebble is doing its best to try to reinstate as many of the services available to Pebble watch owners, but clearly some are easier than others to keep alive and unfortunately there will be some casualties. You can see the full outline here, but we've summarised the key features that will be retained and lost below.
In terms of what will be available, there will be a Rebble Store with hopes that you will be able to pull in a list of apps you've already installed from the current app store. Apps will continue to have Timeline support, although the onus will be on developers to update their apps to continue that support. Built-in weather and dictation support will now become paid-for features.
CloudPebble, the Pebble online development platform, will be integrated into Rebble's Web Service allowing developers to import existing projects as long as they do it before Fitbit shuts those Pebble servers down.
Now we get to features that won't make the cut and iOS SMS and email replies/actions is one of the most notable omissions. Unfortunately, its loss is due to the privacy and security implications of having access to email accounts along with the need to replicate the agreements Pebble had with carriers and providers for SMS support is just not something Rebble is able to do.
The cost of keeping Pebble features alive
We've already alluded to this above and that is the fact that while some of these features will be free to use for Pebble smartwatch owners, some won't. Yes, you'll have to pay up for extras. Keeping Rebble Web Services running is not going to be cheap.
Rebble will be setting up a Patreon for those who want to donate to keep the services running and it's toying with two options right now. The first is that if you don't pay anything at all, you will still get access to your Rebble account, the app store, timeline, and CloudPebble. The alternative is that users possibly pay around $2 a month and that will include access to everything including the weather and dictation features. Those details have yet to be confirmed though.
Are you a Pebble owner looking to see what Rebble can do this summer? Let us know in the comments.