Do you have a Pebble watch that’s been updated to the latest release, or have you picked up a Pebble 2 and are wondering what Pebble Health is all about? This post is for you! The Pebble 2 is shipping to Kickstarter backers and is also avaiable on Amazon (in limited colors). Other colors should be available at retail by this Holiday shopping season.
If you’re not familiar with Pebble, here is a quick recap: Pebble was one of the early drivers behind the current smartwatch craze. Their watches work on both Google Android and Apple iOS, sport an always on e-paper display and have up to 7 days of battery life on average (depending on model). The Pebble 2 is their newest watch with 7 days of battery life, and has a monochrome e-paper display. Now, let’s take a look at what Pebble Health is and why it’s so helpful.
What is Pebble Health?
I’m glad you asked. It’s Pebble’s health app. It tracks your steps and exercise, heart rate and sleep all in one beautiful interface (it really is pretty!) The algorithms used to calculate movement and sleep were done in partnership with the Stanford Wearable Health lab and will eventually be open-source to anyone that wants to use them. This is big since not all companies share their metrics on data. Pebble Health also integrates and shares health information to Google Fit and Apple Health.
What separates Pebble Health from their competitors is how it calculates your daily step goals. On average, most platforms (such as FitBit, Jawbone Up or Misfit) base movement goals on 10,000 steps. This is a good goal, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But sometimes you have more active days than others, and not meeting your 10k step goal can be disheartening. Pebble does it differently. Instead of an arbitrary 10k step goal, it gives you a baseline against yourself. You see your step count over the past weeks and months and Pebble Health displays an average. For example, you might have moved 5k steps last Monday. Pebble Health will display last week’s number for your current day, and you can compare and compete with yourself!
Getting started with Pebble Health in iOS
There’s little set up required with Pebble Health, other than entering in your height, weight, sex and age. After that, you’re off to the races! Everything is automatic – Pebble 2 will track your long walks, runs and heart rate 24/7 (only on the Pebble 2 model), without any need to do anything special. If you walk consistently for a period of time, Pebble will automagically log this event for you. The same goes for sleeping – just wear your Pebble to bed, and it will automatically track your light and deep sleep, even when you wake up at night. When it comes to heart rate on your Pebble, the watch will check your heart rate every 10 minutes and log that information to the Pebble Health app. If you want a more specific heart rate calculation, you can use the built-in Workout app on the Pebble watch.
The Workout app gives you three choices: run, walk and workout. Selecting one of these choices captures the same exercise info the Pebble normally would, but now the heart rate sensor will be constantly on during your workout period. For example, while you are running, you can glance down on your wrist and view pace, distance and heart rate as needed. As a bonus, many watch faces available on the Pebble store can display your passive heart rate and will refresh it every 10 minutes!
When sleeping with your Pebble 2, you have to do nothing, except go to sleep and wake up – Pebble does all the heavy lifting for you. After you’re awake, you can check your Pebble or the Pebble Health app on your watch to look at your sleep details. The summary will display the total hours slept, hours of deep sleep and typical sleep as well. The yellow bars on the graph indicate your average. There is an extra tool you can use on your Pebble that also ties into the sleep aspect – smart alarms. These alarms will wake you up at the moment you have the light sleep-state in the morning! Certainly a nice bonus!
Reading your Pebble Health data
You can change your view on the Pebble Health app to display day, week or month. The Week view displays a crown for the exercise and sleep days you achieved the most. To view a specific time of event (such as a run or walk), simply drag your finger across the screen to the time you wish to see.
Want to see the calorie burn from your evening walk? Simply tap your finger on the screen for that period (exercise is indicated by a darker green color). Pebble will even give you encouraging watch notifications on how well you did or didn’t do for your exercise and sleep for the day. One of my favorites is when Pebble calls me a “lightning bolt” for exercising – it’s cute and informative.
- Open the Pebble app on your iPhone
- It’ll open to the Pebble Health Activity section
- First, you can change the time displayed in the top right corner- Day, Week or Month
- In Week view, the crown indicates your most active day!
- Note the Distance, Calories and Active time
- Place your cursor on a dark green area to view exercise details
- Scroll to Heart Rate section
- Tap and hold a time on the graph to display your heart rate at that time
- Scroll to the Sleep section
- The yellow bars indicate your average sleep and awake times and the light blue indicates periods of light sleep, dark blue indicates periods of deep sleep
Bringing it all together
Pebble Health does a great job of giving you usable stats for your exercise, heart rate and sleep in a beautiful presentation. Have you used Pebble Health on your Pebble or had a chance to check out the Pebble 2 and its new functionality? Let me know in the comments below!