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Thursday, May 16, 2013, 12:37 pm PT (03:37 pm ET)

New Pebble developer tools allow smart watch apps to talk to iPhone apps

The Pebble smart watch development kit was updated on Thursday to allow two-way communication between watch and phone apps, along with a new sports API for tracking exercise.

The newly updated PebbleKit allows communication between watch applications on the Pebble and those that reside on a smartphone running Apple's iOS or Google's Android. "Watchapps" can be built to receive weather or traffic information, act as remote controls for a phone or Internet-connected device, or even display bitcoin prices.

Pebble Menu


In addition, the new Pebble Sports API is now available for all developers to utilize. Its functionality can already be found in the iPhone app for Runkeeper, which was updated last week, as well as FreeCaddie, a GPS golf rangefinder.

The company behind the watch also announced that it has secured $15 million in venture capital funding, which it says will "be used to grow the software engineering team, expand Pebble's open development platform and scale to meet customer demand." Pebble gained considerable attention last year when the project earned more than $10 million in crowdsourced public funding on Kickstarter.

"The tremendous response we received from Kickstarter backers validated our belief in the value of a smart watch as a wearable computer, but also in the value an open platform brings to truly personalizing the watch to their daily activities", said Eric Migicovsky, Pebble's founder. "This new investment will help us build out the Pebble development ecosystem and deliver on Pebble's extraordinary potential."

Pebble's SDK was first released in April, allowing developers to create custom watch faces and games. But with Thursday's update, applications on the iPhone or Android handsets can be written to communicate with the Pebble and relay information to users.

Over 8,000 developers have downloaded the Pebble SDK, resulting in more than 5,000 unique watch applications and 300,000 app installs in just over a month. Users can find content at community websites such as mypebblefaces.com, forums.getpebble.com, and watchface-generator.de.

The smart watch space has been heating up with options like the Pebble, MetaWatch, I'm Watch, Sony Smartwatch and others now available. Rumors have suggested that Apple is secretly working on a so-called "iWatch," while reports have claimed Google, Samsung, Microsoft and LG are also said to be working on wrist-worn hardware accessories.