How to Sideload Apps on a Pebble Smartwatch

William Elcock

Pebble, the now-defunct smartwatch manufacturer, is perhaps best known for its hugely successful Kickstarter campaigns.

Pebble-Smartwatch

In 2012, its funding goal of $100,000 for the original Pebble smartwatch was met in just 2 hours. This campaign went on to raise $10,266,845 in total.

To top that, the Kickstarter funding goal of $500,000 for the follow-up Pebble Time smartwatch was met within a staggering 17 minutes with the campaign going on to raise a whopping $20,338,986.

Pebble's final Kickstarter campaign also exceeded the original funding goal, raising $12,779,843 in total after asking for only $1,000,000 initially. Unfortunately, the company crumbled shortly after, meaning that the Kickstarter backers had to be refunded.

End_of_road
End of the road.

The company got into debt trouble and sold to Fitbit for around $40,000,000 in December 2016. It was a sad day for the Pebble but a great day for Fitbit.

Pebble smartwatches had a unique charm and were well-built products. The acquisition by Fitbit, however, only included Pebble's software, firmware, and patents. The hardware was not included.

At the time of the acquisition, Fitbit pledged to maintain software and services through 2017. They also updated the Pebble mobile apps and made them reliant on Pebble cloud services so that they can run after these services have been shut down.

Pebble-smartwatch

2017 has passed and we're now into 2018 so it's reasonable to expect that the Pebble appstore will eventually stop running at some point during the course of this year.

Luckily, Pebble apps can be sideloaded. Keep reading to find out how you can keep your Pebble experience going with the apps mentioned below.

How to Sideload Pebble apps

The official Pebble mobile apps will now be able to function after the last update. Hence, the methods outlined for iOS and Android below will involve their use.

Where to Download Apps from?

At the moment, Pebble apps can still be downloaded from the official appstore here. Browse for the app you want and download and add "&dev_settings=true" to the URL. After doing so, you will be able to select an option titled Download PBW from the bottom of the screen.

Pebble_Download_PBW
Note:
  • PBW files are Pebble smartwatch app files.
  • PBW files can also be downloaded from Github.

How to Do It on Android

After you obtain the PBW file of your app, it's time to install it on your device. Transfer the file to your Android device and open it with a third-party file manager. You will be asked to choose the app with which you wish to open the file. Select the Pebble mobile app.

Pebble_app_select

After selecting OK, the Pebble app will open and you will be asked to verify if you want to load the app.

Pebble_load_external_app

Select OK and the app will be installed.

How to Do It on iPhone

The process on iPhone will largely be the same, however, it's easiest to mail the PBW file to yourself, and then open it from the Mailapp. This is necessary since iOS does not allow the same level of access to its filesystem as Android.

iPhone-Pebble

When asked which app to open the file with, choose the Pebble app and continue as with the Android method.

Final Thoughts

Pebble watches still have a large following, even though the company no longer operates. Methods such as sideloading to keep them alive and kicking will most likely be increasingly necessary in the coming months.

Efforts such as Rebble, which is effectively a community-based replica of the suite of services formerly offered by Pebble will also help to keep the community alive.

Also See
#Pebble #smartwatch

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William Elcock

Written By

William Elcock

William has been helping friends troubleshoot tech problems for several years and thus made the natural progression into tech blogging. In addition to consumer electronics William also has a vested interest in various renewable energy topics.