In the face of new competition from Apple, smartwatch maker Pebble has released an update to the device’s firmware that enables all-new activity tracking features for health applications. To accompany this update, new Pebble apps from Jawbone and others that integrate with the health and fitness tracking features.

The app by Misfit will be capable of monitoring sleep and movement using the watch’s built-in sensors, while Jawbone’s “UP” watchface will be able to track similar data and sync back to the Jawbone UP service via a smartphone connection. Perhaps the most interesting application of these new features is the Swim.com application, which can “measure distance, pace, times, strokes, and efficiency while swimming” and later relay the data back to an app on a smartphone.

The new firmware also includes the ability to quickly launch your favorite apps using one of the device’s hardware buttons.

The update is available for the $99 Pebble or $199 Pebble Steel and can be downloaded through the Pebble iOS app.

Pebble Firmware 2.6 Release Notes

  • NEW: Activity. Activity tracking apps (e.g. Jawbone, Misfit, Swim.com) for Pebble now work seamlessly in the background. View installed Activity apps and toggle preferences in the Pebble Settings menu. An Activity icon is visible within Pebble menus when a compatible app is installed and running.
  • NEW: Quick Launch. Set shortcuts from a watchface to your favorite Pebble apps with a long press of the Up or Down buttons. Enable Quick Launch and set app shortcuts in the Pebble Settings menu.
  • Battery icon is now persistent within Pebble menus.
  • Select button once again dismisses notifications when paired with an Android device or iOS device on iOS 7 or lower. iOS 8 users get notificaion dismissal for both Pebble and the paired device when pressing Select.
  • Bug fixes and improvements.

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