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Infinitime Spotlight

Pine64's most successful community project


I was a smart watch skeptic before I got my PineTime[0] nearly two years ago. After the release of the Apple Watch, smart watches seemed like yet another gimmick to make the average consumer waste money and lock themselves into a closed technology ecosystem. That is, until the PineTime introduced me to the world of Free software. The convenience of notifications on my wrist and the delight supporting my favorite Free projects is well worth the $26 price tag. The PineTime even introduced me to the idea of firmware development as a possible career path and pushed me towards starting my computer engineering degree this fall.[1] This article is in celebration of all that the teams behind the PineTime's software, particularly the Infinitime[2] OS team, have achieved.

the infinineat watchface in grayscale

What does "community driven" mean?

Like basically every other Pine64 project, the PineTime has many available OSes to choose from. There's WaspOS,[3] Zephyr,[4] and of course Infinitime. All of these projects are maintained and contributed to by members of the Pine64 community. These good Samaritans aren't paid employees of Pine64 but rather volunteers writing code in their free time to provide great watch OS projects for everyone from users to developers. According to it's GitHub page, 116 people have contributed to the code and documentation for InfiniTime.[5] This model allows the PineTime to be sold at an affordable price because Pine64 doesn't employ people to develop software directly.

This community driven model has been most successful with the Pinecil,[6] creating a device that is not only of better quality then other products in it's price range but one that also has great software support. The model does however mean that the community also runs software support, so when using the chat rooms be patient and don't spam people with your issue. People who hang around in chatrooms aren't paid support, so be kind and respectful to them and their time. Pine64 does however take care of hardware support, so if your device's hardware isn't functioning as intended upon recieving it you can contact Pine64 via their support page to get assistance.[7]

pinetime devkit opened next to my daily driver pinetime on the about screen showing version 1.11

Infinitime Features

I've always used Infinitime, the default and most popular OS for the PineTime. Important Infinitime features include notifications, step tracking, heart rate monitoring, and pairing with companion apps like Amazfish, Gadgetbridge, Siglo, and itd. Additional features include a timer, alarm, stopwatch, music control, games, and plenty of watch face choices. Battery life on the device is phenomenal. I took it on a week long vacation in January and forgot my charging cradle, but it was still at 30% when I got back. As for my favorite feature, reading texts on my wrist is super convenient when my Pinephone is in my bag, especially if the communication isn't super urgent. Controlling music by pausing, playing, and navigating songs forward and backward is very convenient without need to take my phone out of my bag or pocket. "2", the Infinitime adaptation of 2048, is also really fun to waste time on.

For developers, the Infinitime project has provided InfiniSim,[8] a watch simulator for testing firmware. To test firmware normally, it can either be flashed over the air via bluetooth or opened up and soldered to an SWD debugger. InfiniSim allows developers to contribute to the project without purchasing a device or making their device not waterproof by opening it up.

a test notification from notify-send

Daily Driving the PineTime

A big question I often see with other Pine64 projects like the Pinephone (Pro) and Pinebooks is "can it be daily driven." For the PineTime, that answer is an absolute yes. When I recieved the device in mid-2020, InfiniTime was still in a pre-1.0 release. Now, a fully production ready release of InfiniTime has been pre loaded on devices for almost 2 years, and the project has seen 11 additional major releases since that point adding new features and more stability. The device is ready to go out of the box and is simple enough to use that you'd never know it was running on Free and Open Source software. If you want to tinker, the available watch OSes provide a pathway to contribute, but it's by no means nessescary to use the device just like any other smart watch.

Wrapping Up

The progress that has been made in the past 3 years on the community driven firmwares for the PineTime smartwatch has turned me from a smartwatch skeptic to a daily user of the device. I hope this article introduced you to the PineTime as a possible smartwatch solution and directed you toward checking out the InfiniTime project.


  2. That's right! I'm headed to BYU-Idaho to begin my 4 year computer engineering degree in september. I hope to work in firmware development at some point, possibly for embedded devices, but I need to learn C first. More on that in a future post!