I’ve had my Motorola Moto360 watch with Android Wear for a little under a week now. It may seem like it’s a little soon to write up a review, but this device has fit so nicely into my daily routine that I think I can make several comments on it now.
The look of the watch is what really drew me to it. A round screen is just so intriguing! The Moto360 looks like a watch. There comes a certain expectation of wearing something on one’s wrist. The Moto360 fits into the fashionable and functional areas perfectly.
Overall, the display is very nice. It is easy to read, albeit a little difficult in full sun. I haven’t found myself cupping my hand around the display to read it, but like most LCDs outside it may take a bit of an angle to get the most out of the display. One feature that helps is the hotly contested light sensor. Many reviewers balked at the watch because of its “flat tire” display. The little bit at the bottom reserved for the light sensor is a compromise, however I feel like it is a compromise well made. Having the watch adapt to the ambient lighting does help in brighter environments and I’m sure it helps extend the battery life by dimming the display in other conditions.
One concern I had before purchase was the leather band. While I fully expect to change it out for the black metal band when it becomes available, the pictures and renders of the watch make it appear lighter than it actually is in person. In person the leather band matches perfectly to the black steel case of the watch. I was very happy to see this when I took the watch out of the box.
The Moto360 also came with its own wireless charger. This is actually a huge plus. Personally, I think it has been a bit understated in tech media. I’ve been able to use the Galaxy Gear at work for development and quickly saw the flawed setup for charging the device. While we didn’t break any of the charging cradles our use was very minimal. It’s nice to be able to drop the Moto360 right on the charging cradle and not fiddle with hooking up any wires. It’s so nice, in fact, that it may influence my next phone purchase. If I had to point out one drawback it would be that with wireless charging they’ve removed any hard wired connection to the device. The crack flasher in me is kind of disappointed.
The Moto360 is one of the first Android Wear devices on the market. One of the first questions that I had when first hearing about the wearables initiative was, “how is this device going to help me in my daily life?” The answer depends on how much you rely on Google’s suite of apps and services. I’ve been a long time user of Google’s offerings which have become an integral portion of my life. Obviously, item number one is that you own an Android phone. Without an Android phone the watch is pretty much useless. I suppose there are some features and functions that would work, but without having the Moto360 (or any Android Wear device) connected to a phone that has connectivity 100% of the time you loose a large feature set.
There are two features of Android Wear that I put at the top of my list, Google Now and notification management. Aside from these the fit functionality is another large plus. Compared to the Galaxy Gear Fit the features may be a bit lacking. The Moto360 keeps the stock Android Wear experience without throwing much, if anything, on top of it.
Having the stock Android Wear experince is a huge plus on the Moto360. As seen with Android phones the highly skinned and modified phones often take much longer to receive the next version of the OS. I can only imagine that this same issue would show up on Wear devices. The one large plus is that without a carrier in the way of the manufacturer and the device updates should be pretty speedy. In fact, the Moto360 has already received an update!
If you’ve been using an Android phone for the last year you’ve probably have heard about Google Now. If you haven’t heard of Google Now I won’t feel upset if you open a new tab and read up on its feature set. There is too much functionality to cover in this article. That said, Google Now is a very handy set of “cards” that give you small bite-sized pieces of information throughout the day on a varying set of topics. Wear integrates by bringing this information to your wrist. The cards appear on your display and you can move through them with a standardized set of swiping motions. With only your phone you were a screen or two away from jumping to those cards. Now with Google’s magic algorithm you get cards on a need to know basis on your Wear device.
Tied for the best “feature” of Wear is notification management. Android has had the concept of notifications very early in its existence. This has allowed every developer to work them into all the apps on your phone. Often I would pick up my phone and see a notification bar with a ton of icons. Expanding the notification area would reveal a long scrolling list of “important” pieces of information. Now texts, missed calls, voice mail alerts, and general app notifications appear on your watch as cards. While this doesn’t solve the problem of every app sending you a bunch of notifications it does allow you to quickly dismiss the unimportant ones with a flick of your finger without having to dig out and unlock your phone.
Stock Android Wear comes with some basic fitness functionality built in. Any Wear device you get will measure your steps with a pedometer function. To my knowledge all the devices currently for sale also will monitor heart rate. The Moto360 extends a little on what I’ll deem anemic fitness experience of Wear. The Moto360 has a companion app which allows you to set some basic health information which in turn will help drive some fitness goals on the watch. To date I’ve seen a focus on how many steps in day and heart rate. At the moment there seems to be a bit more to be desired here however I can only imagine that other developers and future updates will help fill the gap as Google works out more of its fitness suite. I would like to point out that in my opinion the Moto360 is not a fitness oriented watch. It’s fit and finish make it more appropriate in the workplace than at the gym. I have yet to wear my watch to the gym.
Watch faces! Real watch faces! Going back to the hardware section, I mentioned that having a round screen was very intriguing. One of the first things I did with the watch was to find and put a custom watch face from one of the popular high-end watch manufacturers.
Using an app, Facer, you can make and push custom watch faces to your Moto360. Having the round screen really makes these watches stand out. In fact, I sold the idea of the Moto360 to my wife by explaining to her that I could spend $8000 for a Breitling Bently Super Sport or th $250 for the Moto360. In essence I saved $7700!
If you’re an early adopter you just read this whole article because you either already have a Moto360 or another Wear device. If you’re on the fence about getting one of these watches than I can only say, “get off the fence. Go to moto360.motorola.com. Sign up for the updates for the Moto360 availablity!”