In late August (2013), I was fortunate to get to attend Pebble’s first developer retreat in Palo Alto, CA. At this event, Pebble unveiled its first developer preview of SDK 2, making me one of only a handful of developers with early access to all of the new features that are coming out for this great little device. Now that Pebble is nearing a public release of the new software, I am free to talk about the new version of the TimeLogger Pebble watch app.
Pebble SDK 2 introduces most of the features that have been requested by developers and users alike. If you’re not familiar with what those changes are, check out this post from Pebble. It is clear from this list that Pebble is listening to what people have been asking for, and the version 2 software update is going to be really amazing.
While I was at the developer retreat, I got to sit down with Pebble’s head of User Experience (UX) and get some pointers. TimeLogger is a pretty deep application (there are a lot of features) for an interface that includes a very small screen and only 4 buttons, and the original goal was to be able to control TimeLogger on the Pebble watch with as few clicks as possible. We accomplished that goal, but in doing so, we were left with a User Interface that was not incredibly intuitive. After going through the app with Pebble’s UX lead, it became clear that we needed to make the experience more intuitive, even though it entailed adding a couple of extra clicks. The result is a really great and more feature-rich smartwatch app for controlling TimeLogger from your Pebble.
Since there were significant changes to the SDK code and we were remaking the interface, we decided to completely rewrite the Pebble app from the ground-up. In developer’s terms, we refactored the entire code, and now have an app that will be significantly easier to improve upon and maintain.
We released version 2.5.0 of the TimeLogger iPhone app with Pebble connection code that will work with Pebble watch version 1.x as well as 2.x. Here are some links:
TimeLogger Pebble watch app for SDK2 (you can also get this in the Pebble app)
TimeLogger Pebble watch app for SDK1 (if you need to downgrade because your Pebble watch is running version 1.x of the Pebble software)
If you are a developer with access to the version 2 Pebble SDK, you can download and run the TimeLogger watch app with the current version of either variety of the TimeLogger iOS app. If you’re not a developer, you’ll need to wait until Pebble releases version 2, but until then, you can take a look at the screen shots below to see what you have to look forward to.
How this differs from v1: It’s the same, except the elapsed time now more accurately reflects paused timers. Also, if you want for the watchface colors to be inverted (black text on a white screen), you can double click the SELECT button to make it so. That feature uses the new persistent storage feature. I wrote about here.
How this differs from v1: This screen has been completely redesigned. On the v1 watch app, you saw a list of functions that were available to perform. Now, you have selections for starting a timer, going to the watch face, and you see a summary of your running and paused timers. When you start a timer, you are taken to a screen that gives you options to select, whereas before, you had to know that pressing the button started a timer with all of your default options, and long pressing the same button gave you the list of options. Likewise, you previously had to know the difference between pressing the “Stop” button and long pressing that button to pause a timer. To further the lack of intuitiveness, on the previous version, long pressing the DOWN button on this screen had a different affect, depending on how many timers you had running or paused. Now, you select a running or paused timer from the summary list, and your available choices are presented to you in a significantly more intuitive manner.
“Start a Timer” selection screen. Your default Category, Client and Job (as set on your phone) are pre-selected, but all possible values can be retrieved from the phone and set to new values. To select a new value, use the UP and DOWN buttons to highlight the Category, Client or Job row, then press the SELECT button (see the next section).
How this differs from v1: This is the same screen that you used to get if you long pressed the “Start” button. We have removed all of the long presses, as well as the possibility of inadvertently starting, stopping or pausing a timer by selecting an unlabeled/unintuitive option. If you want to start a timer with the default options, just press the SELECT (middle) button on the watch while “Start Timer” is highlighted. This adds one extra button press to the process of starting a timer with the default options, but it removes all of the possible confusion.
Selecting a Client from those retrieved from the phone. You will see this screen if, when you are starting a timer, you want to select a new Client. This screen will contain a list of Clients that you have in your phone app. There are similar screens for selecting new Categories and Jobs.
How this differs from v1: This is the same screen that you would get previously if you long pressed the “Start” button and then selected “Client.”
How this differs from v1: This is a completely new addition to the main screen screen. Managing running and paused timers used to be hidden behind long presses.
How this differs from v1: This is a completely new screen. You previously had to long press the DOWN button, and then know the difference between a long press and a short press of the SELECT button to stop, pause or resume a timer from this screen. You are now presented with easy to understand icons next to the buttons that perform each of the possible choices. In this case, those choices are Pause, Stop and Delete.
How this differs from v1: Just like the previous screen, this is completely new with this version of TimeLogger. As a matter of fact, this screen is nearly identical to the one immediately above, but since this timer is paused (as opposed to “running”), your choices are Resume and Delete.
Progress bars and confirmations. When data is being transferred from your phone to your watch, this first screen will appear. Whenever you stop, pause, resume or delete a timer, you will see a confirmation screen.
How this differs from v1: Confirmation screens were in the previous version of the app, but the progress bar is a new addition. If your bluetooth connection is particularly slow or you have a lot of items to transfer from your phone to your watch (if you are loading a long list of categories, for example), there was previously no indication of how much time you should expect to wait for that list to arrive on your watch. If it took more than a couple of seconds, it becomes disconcerting, and many people felt like it wasn’t loading, so they would push buttons on their watch again. For those load operations, we have added a progress bar so that you know that something is happening and have an idea about how long you should expect to wait. Most of these operations take place within a couple of seconds, but we thought it would be nice to provide immediate feedback.
TimeLogger is already getting pretty close to the resource limits available on the watch, but there’s more to come as more and more of these watches get onto people’s wrists and the capabilities continue to improve.
If you need to track and report your time, there’s no better way to do it than from your watch. We’re very proud to have made the first productivity app for the Pebble smartwatch, and are excited about the latest update to the TimeLogger feature set. It will be awesome to see all the cool new features that will be coming in watch apps. Be sure to get a copy of TimeLogger or TimeLogger Free from the App Store and get the Pebble watch app for free.
And as I like to close these things… If TimeLogger is making the tedium of tracking your time better, please take a few minutes to leave a rating or review on the App Store. Positive reviews go a long way in helping little companies like ours continue to improve the products that we hope you use and love as much as we do.