What’s The Most Useful Feature of the Pebble Time?

Pebble Time with Michael

photoI recently read a very interesting article. It was a review of the Apple Watch by Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

I particularly enjoy reading technology reviews by non-technical writers as they are usually very practical and down-to-earth in their evaluations. These writers aren’t easily blinded by the newest and niftiest technical do-dads. I found this review to be particularly interesting to me even as a Pebble Time owner as it came to a surprising conclusion as to what the author felt was the most valuable feature of the Apple Watch – the calendar. Or in Pebble Time terms, the Timeline.

Mr. Gingrich started off his review describing his experiences in trying to use the Apple Watch as an electronic boarding pass through TSA and airline boarding gates. He had some difficulty with this, which was not surprising to me. Prior to my recent retirement my job required me to fly virtually every week of the year and my experience with trying to use a phone as an electronic boarding pass was less than a success. The very reflective screen of a phone or smartwatch usually plays havoc with the laser scanners used by TSA and the airlines, and I soon gave up and went back to printing out paper boarding passes. I have a feeling Mr. Gingrich may soon do the same.

Next, here’s what Mr. Gingrich has to say that reflects on the value of the Timeline: “In fact, the calendar feature alone might almost make the Apple Watch worth buying for extremely busy people. The soft and silent “taps” that the Watch makes on your wrist 15 minutes before your next appointment could be the perfect un-intrusive reminder to start wrapping up your current meeting in anticipation of the next event. And the notifications call up the details you’re most likely to need as you look at your watch to check the time.

Now I found this very surprising. He didn’t find notifications to be the most important feature, but rather the calendar/Timeline. In my article, Is the Pebble Time Actually Worth Buying?, I didn’t even mention the Timeline. I focused on the wristwatch features of time, date, and weather info, Notifications, the few applications I use, and the ability to personalize this smartwatch as being the most valuable features to me.

Mr. Gingrich then goes on to write this about notifications: “Other notifications might not be quite as critical, and you can often wait to look at them on your phone. I get so many emails that even my iPhone screen is almost too small to sort through what’s important and what’s not. I usually need to open up my iPad to deal with my inbox. But for many people, the email notifications might be helpful on the Apple Watch, too.

Ah, that’s why he came to this conclusion – he apparently doesn’t make much use of texting and he’s bombarded with emails. That’s why notifications are of such limited value to him.

Now I make extensive use of text messaging, both through SMS and Facebook Messenger. In fact I rarely make or receive phone calls any more. My Pebble Time keeps me informed of all the text messages sent to me. A quick peek at it when it vibrates enables me to quickly determine if I have just received an important message or something that can be safely ignored, and with minimal disruption to my current activities. This is an incredibly valuable feature to me.

As for email notifications – well I probably don’t receive as much email as Mr. Gingrich, but I do receive quite a lot. I have discovered a tool to help prioritize the email for which I get notifications, though, and this is Google’s Inbox. This is a wonderful free email service built on top of Gmail and which is available on the Web and through iPhone and Android apps. The best feature of this service is its ability to automatically categorize normal and Low-Priority email. Inbox attempts to automatically classify email for you into these two categories. You can also train it by moving email messages into or out of the Low-Priority classification section.

What’s especially great about this is that you will only receive notifications upon the arrival of normal email, and never for Low-Priority email. So, I’m only made aware on my Pebble Time of the type of email messages that I’ve determined to be important to me and never ones that I’ve pre-determined to be of lesser importance. This really cuts down on the number of email messages presented to me on my smartwatch and makes this feature extremely valuable to me. If I get an email notification on my Pebble Time it is probably an email message I’m actually going to want to read.

Now I do think Mr. Gingrich has a point regarding the importance of the calendar Timeline, though. I do make extensive use of it as a source of event reminder notifications, as a summary of upcoming activities which I regularly review, and as an extremely simple way to manage to-dos in a very quick and efficient manner.

Perhaps I gave the Timeline the short shrift in my Is the Pebble Time Actually Worth Buying? article. I think Mr. Gingrich has allowed me to realize just how important the Timeline is to me, and for that I’m very grateful. What do you feel is the most important feature of your Pebble Time?