Pebble: first thoughts

Ooo, look!

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 19.51.54

Recently, in the last episode of The Voicemail of 2013 (Episode 079) Stefan and I were asked the following question:

‘Given that 2014 will be the year of the smartwatch, what would we be looking for in a next generation smartwatch when selecting one?’

At the time, Stefan had a Samsung Galaxy Gear and I… did not. I hadn’t tried a smartwatch before, and so couldn’t really comment (Stefan could though, and I’ve appended his words, with my own additions, to the end of this post). Those kind people at Pebble heard about this, and sent one out for me to try.

It arrived this morning, and I set it up over my lunch. Here it is –


Yes, I went for white.

Now look, I’m brand new to this whole wearable tech thing so I’m quite intrigued about what kind of affect it’ll have on my existing behaviours. In the same way the iPad changed [and actually increased] my reading habits, I wonder what the world of smartwatches, nay, Pebble watches will do to the way I interact with my tech.

Moreover, I know I’m not unique in the Pebble-owning world (I know several people that both own and love theirs), but I am intending on writing up how I get on with it over the coming days, weeks, and months.


Out of the box, the Pebble is fairly simple to set up. You download an app onto your device (I sport 2013’s phone of the year, the HTC One) and then connect to the Pebble over Bluetooth. A minor firmware update later (and of course a spot of charging) and you’re ready to go.

Initial impressions (in no real order)

  • Firmware update didn’t work first time, had to unpair and reboot. Second time it worked like a charm and I hope all future updates are as painless.
  • The Pebble app is fairly limited, and the immediate urge is to download a new one. I’m trying Pebble Notifier [FREE]  but others recommend apps such as Augmented Smartwatch Pro [NOT FREE]. Until I know what I need from my Pebble, I won’t be making the leap quite yet.
  • It works with RunKeeper – YES! No new app installs, it just works. My RunKeeper app on Android shows a teeny little watch icon when it’s working too. Super cool.


  • It works with Spotify – YES! Skipping a track is easy and, while track display is also available, I’ve found this to be a bit patchy and doesn’t always have anything to display. But when it does, it’s cool!


  • It doesn’t work with my work email account. I’m desperately trying to find a work around but no joy, yet. More experimentation required. To be fair to Pebble, my employer’s email is run on Google Apps and they have IMAP disabled as standard. Bit of a ball ache, but I’m sure I’ll find a way through it at some point. Weirdly, Hangout alerts (and messages) come through just fine, so maybe a tinker with the settings somewhere will help.
  • The Pebble community is HUGE. I joined the Google+ group today (don’t laugh) and I turned out to be their 4000th member. I’m very excited about this.
  • Everyone is talking about ‘Firmware v2’ and the Pebble ‘App Store’ being ‘just around the corner’. Apparently these are good things and I should be looking forward to them. Fingers crossed for that then.
  • In the seven hours that I’ve been using it, the Pebble has already reduced the amount of times I’ve had to pick up my phone. This can only be a good thing.

And that’s it. I’m fully aware that I am very much in calibration mode with this thing at the moment. Each person, each device, and each experience is different. Some people like a lot of alerts, some people don’t.

Slowly but surely I’m working out the hierarchy of what I need and what I don’t (SMS’s? Notify me. Instagram comments and likes? Don’t notify me). And when that process is complete, I think I’m going to enjoy owning this Pebble device very, very much.

More to come, soon.


Stefan said:

  1. It needs to look good.
    Check! I got the white one, it looks great!
  2. It needs to work with your current device.
    Check! No problems so far.
  3. It has to perform well in terms of battery life.
    Apparently one charge should last seven days, so let’s see.


What phone should I get?

Someone recently asked me:

A good pal in the pub asked what was the best phone apart from the iPhone. What do you think? James Whatley you know about these matters. What’s the best out there on balance?

My response?

If you’re not looking for an iPhone. Then your choice is Windows Phone or Android. If you want amazing photos, look at the Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 (see yesterday’s post for more on that one). The latter outperforms the former in the photography stakes, however the 925 has a more aesthetically pleasing industrial design. 

If photography isn’t your number one reason for having a phone (oh and if, like me, you can’t get on with the Windows Phone 8 OS) then it’s a tie between the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One – I own and adore the latter.

Finally, if budget is an issue, I’d look at the Google Nexus 4. It is, at the time of writing, Google’s flagship device and is merely an astonishing £159 SIM free on Google Play.

That’s all I got.

Whatley on a phone

Disagree with this? Let me know.

But while you’re at it, let me know which phones you recommend when people ask you this same question. Those of you that don’t reply with ‘Let me ask Whatley’, that is…


The Lumia 1020 does take GREAT photos

Captain Obvious I know, but still…

One of my favourite 1020 shots to date

I’ve got a full review percolating around my skull for this device (kindly lent to me by the guys at Nokia Connects) but if you’re a regular listener to my podcast, The Voicemail, you probably know where I’m at with it already.

But after spending a couple of days with the device and irrespective of how I feel about Windows Phone, you can’t deny how incredible the camera on the Lumia 1020 really is.


Taking it with me on my recent Tough Mudder meant we had some fantastic photos to share when we got back. Good work.

If the only thing you’re looking for in a phone is a decent camera, you simply can’t look any further than the Lumia 1020. Full stop.

Kate Bevan’s piece on the Lumia 1020 in The Guardian
is also worth a look.

Microsoft and Nokia: No Surprises

This post was first published on Medium (and Marketing) and is reposted here with permission –

What happened?

In a move that has been on the cards since February 2013 (or 2011, depending on who you talk to) Microsoft finally stumped up the cash and bought Nokia’s device business.


This should not come as a surprise.

There is much to be said about this sale, ‘I can’t believe this has happened!’ should not be one of them.

Continue reading “Microsoft and Nokia: No Surprises”

Content comparison: @ThreeUK vs @O2, which is better?

I’m after your opinion folks, so get ready to hit that ‘Leave a Reply’ section at the bottom of this post.

This week I received a cake* in the post.

A cake with my face on it.


— yes, that is my actual face, on a cake —

This is piece of co-marketing material from both Three and Nokia pushing the unique selling point (USP) of the Lumia 925: the awesome low-light camera. The angle?


Why a cake? Well, it’s a carrot cake. Geddit…?

Anyway, the video that the leaflet directs you too is below, take a look –

OK, let’s park that right there.

Next up, we have this effort from O2. Their phone of choice is the Huawei Ascend P6. The USP? The super-slimness of the device. The angle?


Check out the video below –

Strategically, the two briefs for these could be almost identical –

Drive conversation and engagement around the DEVICE NAME by creating a funny and shareable piece of social media content that will stay true to [the] OPERATOR’s existing online tone of voice, while also highlighting the USP of our hero device.

The execution is obviously very different (plus the former had the additional push of some ‘influencer engagement’ in the shape of aforementioned baked product) but, the question to you, dear reader, is – which one do you prefer and why?

Both are funny in thei rown right, both pushing the USP of a hero device, both deliver the same message but in a very different way. I’m intrigued on your take on it so please, leave a reply below and let me know.



*I also received a hand-carved carrot featuring the Nokia and 3 logo. No, really. I didn’t eat that, nor did I get a photo (EDIT: photo uploaded as requested by carrot-carving fans), however the cake was really quite nice, so thanks for that. Why was my face on it again? 

83% of Facebook’s UK Daily Users are on Mobile

How many?

Facebook MAU DAU

Source: TechCrunch

According to the above chart, posted yesterday on TechCrunch, Facebook’s Daily Active Users (DAU) for mobile make up a staggering 83% of all active users.

First off, that’s a MASSIVE NUMBER.

Second, we need to dig a little deeper. As Josh Constine states ‘To be clear, total stats count each individual user as 1 regardless of whether they accessed from desktop, mobile, or both. Mobile stats count each user who accessed via mobile, whether or not they also accessed via desktop.’

What this means is that while they’re not exclusively accessing Facebook via mobile*, 83% of overall DAU do at some point access via mobile. That is still a huge number.

What does this mean?

  1. Surprise surprise, UK users access Facebook from their mobile phones
  2. If you’re a brand using Facebook to speak to your users (y’know, through building apps and stuff) you better be thinking MOBILE FIRST – but again, this is not news
  3. A genuinely surprising amount of new openness from Facebook means that we should be seeing more data like this in the future.

Hurrah and hurrah again.

I’m also left wondering, why on Earth wasn’t this picked up by more trades?

Whatley out.


PS. Reading this on your mobile? Best check Facebook…

PPS. Contrary to popular opinion, this isn’t ‘the first time’ Facebook have admitted this algorithm exists. They did that back in 2010. 

*To get the exclusive number, you’d need Facebook to release a deep dive on this image. But they haven’t done that yet. So we wait.



Blogging about @O2 and #O2Refresh

So, this is interesting.

O2 Refresh

Last Monday night I was invited along to the launch of the new ‘Refresh’ tariff from O2. Not since Orange launched their animal range (remember them?) has anyone actually gone to any length to launch a [yawn] phone tariff before but, when you dig a little deeper on this one, you can kind of see why it’s such a big deal.

The killer pitch of O2 Refresh is that you can upgrade your phone whenever you like. So we’re clear on this, what that means is:


Got that? Good.

‘But how?!’ you all cry. Well, it’s achingly simple. So simple in fact that it’s stunning that no one else has ever done it before. O2 Refresh is a 24mth tariff that separates your airtime bill from your handset bill, meaning that you get absolute clarity on what money is being spent where. On a £37pcm contract? £20 of that goes on the phone, £17 on the airtime (that £17 by the way gets you unlimited minutes, text messages, and a gig of data).

To quote directly from their press release:

‘For those customers who want a new handset before the end of their contract term, O2 Refresh enables them to pay off the remainder of their Phone Plan and end their Airtime Plan with no termination fee. To make it even more affordable to get the latest smartphone, customers can trade in their old mobile for cash using O2 Recycle, getting up to £260 to put towards their new phone.’


Speaking of which, there was magic on show on the night too –

James & Oliver

Mr Oliver B (on the right, above – clearly), was a fantastic entertainer and, amongst other things, managed to swap my HTC One for a Sony Xperia Z (both of which are funnily enough, available on Refresh) right before my very eyes*.


Thanks very much to O2 for inviting me along to their event and congratulations to them too for actually attempting to innovate in one of the most staid and boring areas of the entire mobile industry.

O2, I salute you.


*Oliver B will be out and about in London town tomorrow doing more of the same, so keep an eye out on the @O2 Twitter account if you want to know where you can see him in action.