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Get a (Side)load of our New Android App!

It’s a tribute to Pebble’s vision and engineering prowess that their watches still provide value to tens of thousands of wearers more than four years after their much-lamented demise — of course, we may have helped along the way, but a lot of things “just work” as they always have. One exception to this, however, is the ability to sideload Pebble apps and firmware on modern Android devices — even Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky ran into difficulties with a .pbz file recently, and while we got it working, there are many more hoops to jump through than the average user should have to deal with. Hence our introduction of Sideload Helper by Rebble — the missing bridge between Pebble files and the legacy Pebble app!

The app began as a discussion on the Rebble Discord server:

“I had the idea to make an app that made sideloading .pbws easier, since that functionality was broken in the original Pebble app.” says Lavender Glaab, one half of the dynamic duo behind the project. “Alice Grey had it working an hour later, and we had a Play Store page within 24 hours. It was really cool to see this app come to life thanks to her programming skill, and I think it’ll be a useful tool for anybody who uses their Pebble on Android.”

In addition to sideloading .pbw (watchface/watchapp), .pbl (language), and .pbz (firmware) files, the app also handles Rebble appstore links — in fact it will even translate legacy Pebble appstore links, providing users have Rebble Web Services set up. Finally, the app will facilitate the eventual transition to Rebble’s own in-development mobile app.

While the developers have achieved their initial goal of making sideloading easier on modern Android devices, there’s still more to do. One particular goal is localization — the process of adapting the app to work with different spoken languages — which is actually something the team could use help with! If you would like to contribute translations, or even just let us know what languages you’d like to see support for, please get in touch via our Sideload Helper localization issue on GitHub.

The particularly observant Pebbler may have noticed a fun little easter egg in the app ID (visible in the Goole Play URL): the name Charon in io.rebble.charon refers to the mythological ferrier of souls from the world of the living to the world of the dead — just like Sideload Helper by Rebble ferries files into the undead Pebble APK that still gives life to all of our watches! :grinning: