Get to where you're going with Pebblenav, a sat nav on your wrist

By Richard Devine on 14 Jan 2014 09:09 am

Notifications on your wrist are one thing, but navigation information is something else entirely. The apps to really show off the potential of the Pebble are starting to come thick and fast, like this one, simply known as Pebblenav. Install it on your iPhone, get directed on your Pebble. Sounds great!

The nuts and bolts of it comes in the form of an iPhone app, downloadable from the App Store. Inside that, you also get the Pebble app, which you're prompted to install via the main Pebble app on your iPhone. So far as setup goes, that's about it.

The developer has clearly put a great deal of thought into design for Pebblenav. The iPhone app is as iOS 7 as it comes, and you're greeted with a series of beautiful welcome and instructional screens, before you even get into the main app.

And that main app could fool you into thinking you'd just opened Apple Maps. The interface is minimal, the map certainly is not. There are no heavy settings menus to get bogged down in; choose walking, driving or cycling directions and that's about your lot. Otherwise you get a search bar, a current location button, and nothing else.

Once you're happy being either on foot, on a bike or something with more wheels, calculating the route is as easy as searching for the address or point of interest, tapping the icon that comes up, and hitting start when presented with the route information. After this, iPhone goes in your pocket, and Pebble takes over.

The route information is automatically sent over to your Pebble, and you've a choice of interfaces to look at. The default view presents you with a little map, white on black, with the instructions beneath. As you move along, the map refreshes to show more little snippets, keeping updated with your current location. It looks nice enough, but I'd say it's more useful if you're walking than driving. Nothing against the design, or the information presented to you, but it's a little fussy, and a little tough to make out on the black and white screen.


A quick press of the centre button on your Pebble however changes everything, and instead of a moving map, you get an arrow, pointing the direction of the next action. Especially in a vehicle, this is a much better way to use Pebblenav. It's clearer, and with the vibrations alerting you to a new instruction, you can keep your eyes firmly on where you're going.

So, it all seems pretty good, yes? Largely, though there are a couple of things to note. Unlike a similar app – pbdirection, reviewed on iMore – Pebblenav doesn't have music control capability built into it. As the app has to be kept open at all times in order to operate, if you want to switch out to control your music player, you'll have to relaunch the app every time. Not a deal breaker, mind.

There are a couple of little bugs too. During my testing, straying from the calculated route would cause the iPhone app to crash, which then leaves you having to start it up and recalculate the route all over again.

The good

  • iPhone app is excellently designed
  • The 'arrow' view on the Pebble is bold, clear, and easy to understand
  • Customizing the type of directions you want
  • Timely vibration alerts to new instructions

The bad

  • Map view is a little fussy, not recommended if driving
  • Few awkward bugs to work out
  • On-board music controls would be nice to have

The bottom line

While it's tough to recommend for driving – and perhaps to that end, cycling too – over just using your iPhone as a sat nav, Pebblenav really comes into its own for walking directions. Having a route relayed to your wrist while your phone stays safely in a pocket or bag is extremely convienient, and with vibrating alerts you can just head out and enjoy the views around you instead of studying a map. Sure, there's a few bugs, and it'd be nice to have on-board music controls, but all in all Pebblenav is a great first step into navigating using your Pebble smartwatch. And all this for just $4.99

Download Pebblenav from the App Store Now

Reader comments

Get to where you're going with Pebblenav, a sat nav on your wrist


Yuppers, a nice Android app that ports over easily to BB10 would be very sweet lol that or you know, Pebble just officially supports BB10 ;)

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

For future reference, I would like to see a lot more screenshots of the Pebble side of the app in a Pebble app review. The phone shots are nice (and easier to get), but the watch photos are the thing that will really sway me on installing the app.

Also, I don't understand the relation between the iOS screenshots and the described app. The screenshots look like some flight tracking app. What does that have to do with GPS navigation?

Noted! We'll find a good mix of app shots and watch shots for future reviews. Definitely agree with you there. 

Have you tried the somewaht similar Android App "Pebble Adventure Navigation"?

It's not as fancy as the one described here, but I have used it successfully on a couple of occasions. When you pop up out of a subway station somewhere, it's a great way to find your way, without looking like an idiot staring at your phone all the time. The problem I ran into was that it's not always easy to get a good gps lock when the phone is in your pocket or bag. But that's more of a phone issue than a pebble one, of course.