Time is nearly up for Pebble, as Fitbit starts the server closure countdown
Pebble’s stay of execution has an end in sight. Fitbit, which bought the one-time Kickstarter success story in 2016, has announced that the pioneering smartwatch’s servers will shut down on 30 June 2018. Originally scheduled for the end of last year, the company is giving Pebblers an extra six months to say goodbye.
Once the lights go out on the server, Pebbles will continue to function in some capacity thanks to an update from last April, but they’ll lose a lot of cloud-based features, and crucially it will be the end of the app store. Any third party firmware updates or apps will need to be sideloaded.
It’s no surprise that Fitbit is keen to move on from being the legal guardian of a family of smartwatches that aren’t even sold anymore. The wearable company bought Pebble for its software, not the hardware, and much of the secret sauce has been pushed into the Fitbit Ionic.
Unsurprisingly, the blog post announcing the end date is part love letter to Pebble, part sales pitch. “Many top Pebble developers are already building apps and clock faces for Fitbit OS,” the post casually mentions. “Pebble fans might recognise favourites like Globetrot by MicroByte, Slides of Time by Morris Timm, and StepVerse by Valorin, already available in the Fitbit App Gallery.”
It even offers $50 off a Fitbit Ionic for Pebblers who bought their watch before December 7 2016. It’s not clear if that extends to UK owners, but the company says it will be emailing those who registered theirs soon.
For refuseniks who wish to keep the Pebble flag flying, there are alternatives. Rebble is hoping to keep Pebbles running smoothly after Fitbit withdraws support, and plans to offer its own app store when the time comes.