PineTime: An Open-Source SmartWatch
850 words · 5 minutes
PineTime Product Information
The PineTime is an open-source smartwatch, created by PINE64. Originally announced in September 2019, this ARM-based watch is a fantastic option for users who want the benefits of a modern smartwatch with the backing of open-source components and software.
I won't dive into too many details that you can find on the product page, but I wanted to point out the prices for each watch and the primary functions:
- $26.99 (Sealed)
- $24.99 (Dev Kit)
- $51.98 (One Sealed + One Dev Kit)
- Clock (+ Smartphone Sync)
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Sleep Monitor
- Calories burned
- Smartphone Notifications
- Media Controls
Now, my PineTime was ordered on 2022-02-17, shipped on 2022-02-22, and was delivered on 2022-03-23. With the current delays on shipping times around the world (and the semiconductor shortage), a month for delivery from China seems reasonable to me.
The packaging is simple, and the watch comes with instructions, technical information, the watch, and a charger (it does not include a USB wall adapter).
The watch itself was able to turn on immediately when I pulled it out of the box, but the battery was depleted and required charging right away.
Watch OS: InfiniTime
While turning on the watch for the first time, some of the main design choices you can see in the watch OS, InfiniTime, are:
- A square bezel, not too thin against the sides of the watch.
- A simple, rubber band.
- Basic font and screen pixel design.
- Swipe gestures to access other screens.
The OS itself is fantastic in terms of functionality for me. It does exactly what a smartwatch should do - track time, steps, heart rates, and connect to another smart device, without being overly burdensome to the user.
My only gripe so far is that it's really difficult to swipe to different screens, such as pulling down the notification tray. I'm not sure if this is an OS or hardware issue, but it makes it quite hard to quickly move around the screens.
However, my absolute favorite design choice is that the button the side turns the screen on and off and tilting/waving my wrist doesn't accidentally turn on the screen. With other watches, I absolutely hated not being able to turn off the raise-to-wake or wave features (i.e., blinding myself while wearing a watch at night because I moved my arm).
iOS App: InfiniLink
Since I am using iOS as my primary mobile device OS, I am using the InfiniLink app to connect my watch.
This app provides the following for PineTime owners:
- Firmware updates
I mashed up a few screenshots to show off the home page, menu, firmware update, and notification test screens:
Another big feature of InfiniLink is the ability to track pedometer steps in a collection of beautiful graphs, with the option to change your step goal and add in manual steps.
Finally, there are charts to display the battery percentage and heart rates over time. This area also comes with an option to clear data.
After wearing my watch for a few weeks, I have mostly positive thoughts about the watch so far. In the past, I have owned smartwatches by FitBit, Fossil, Apple, etc. - but I prefer the PineTime over all of those watches.
The PineTime strips out all the unnecessary features and performs the functions that it provides effectively and efficiently.
The battery life is amazing on this device. By default, the watch seems to last anywhere from a few days to a week before dying.
And of course, it's open source and backed by some of the most dedicated enthusiasts and developers I've seen. Watching the Matrix channel, forums, and website have been exciting to see.
If I had to complain about anything, it would simply be the small bugs in some features that can be contributed to the companion apps more than the watch itself.
A regular user would want native notification support out-of-the-box, which is the biggest item not working for me at the moment.
My only other complaint is that the battery indicator on the watch doesn't seem accurate when it's nearing depletion - it seems that there's a bit of battery life left and then my watch is dead very suddenly after. This could just be me misinterpreting the battery level icons, but it has fooled me a few times into thinking I had more battery left than I actually did.
Other than those small items, I really do love this watch and am glad I replaced my Apple Watch with the PineTime.