2014 can well be called the year of the smartwatch, at least the year in which the smartwatch became mainstream. However, most of the smartwatch, wearable segment has been driven by startups and large companies doing their own things. The only exception to the rule if the Google-backed Android Wear platform that is slowly being adopted by multiple companies. A bit late in the day, but I finally got to test the Moto 360 from Motorola.
Specs: Android Wear OS | Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor | 1.56-inch Backlit LCD IPS (320x290p) display | 4GB eMMC ROM with 512MB RAM | 320mAh battery | 49 grams | Bluetooth 4.0 LE | 9-Axis (Gyro / Accelerometer / Compass), Pedometer, Optical heart-rate monitor | Dust and Water Resistant (IP67), Dual microphone
Design: The Moto 360 looks like a decent watch with a round watch face, nothing too loud, nothing out of place. It has only one button that is placed like the crown in a regular watch. This acts like the power buttons in an Android device. After all, this is also Android-based. What differentiates this one from a regular watch is the rear where there are sensors for the heart rate monitor. While there are metal strap options, the review unit I had was one with the Horween stone leather. I certainly was not the first person to review this particular piece and the wear and tear was clearly visible. Not a good sign for a unit that is not more than a couple of months old. Whatever the reviewer before me did with this watch, the strap should have held up better.
Setup: Setting up the Android Wear is as simple as it can be. You just need to download the Android Wear app on any phone running Android 4.3 or upwards and follow instructions. Once the two are paired you can change the watchface from both the phone as well as the watch. The watch also gives you some settings options. Everything here is easy for those familiar with Android.
Performance: If you love Google Now you will love the Moto 360. While the operating system on the watch might be called Android Wear, it is not much different from Google Now. It has the same cards, the same notifications and of course the same feel. There are additional features. For instance, notifications from any app that is capable of creating one of your phone is transmitted to the watch. It can get a bit irritating at times, so it is better to mute those apps that you don’t need to check on a as-it-happens basis.
You can also download lots of apps that are designed for Android wear. I particularly liked the Edomondo that kept track of my increasingly rare morning walks. The internal steps tracker just gives you steps. The Moto Body app also does a good job of keeping track of your activity. But you need to add more apps on the phone for the same.
But the Moto There are even games designed for the watch, but I thought the idea of fiddling with a watch on a competitive basis was quite close to being stupid, at least at my age.
The watch is very good when it comes to setting alerts and reminding you of the same, controlling the music on your phone and even initiating text messages using voice. My problem with a lot of the notifications was that you cannot open the whole thing on the watch and it lets you initiate the same on the phone. This, however, does not work if the phone has a lock screen on. The other issue for me is the fact the the apps are almost hidden. Of course, you can ask the watch to open it for you, but don’t always want to be seen talking to your watch of all other things. To get to an app is at least half a dozen clicks away and that is a bit irritating.
Also, the entire swipe up for notifications, right to dismiss, click to open Google regimen takes a while to master. After almost a fortnight with the watch I cannot still say that I am on top of it.
Battery: If there is one big stumbling block for the Moto 360 at the moment, then it has to be the battery. There is no way it is going to last for more than a day, even Motorola does not expect it to. Compare that to my Pebble, which I charge once a week. Buying the watch just means adding another thing to your to-charge list every morning. And there is no app so far to help you with that. Plus, if you forget to charge the Moto 360, you have to carry a largish charger to work as a regular USB will not work. The good thing here is that the watch charges really fast and a 100% can be achieved in about 40 minutes.
Verdict: The Moto 360 is definitely among the best smartwatches in the market now. But is it the best? I doubt. That will have to wait till Motorola gets more battery life on to the customer’s wrist and Google adds more power to his finger tip. Go ahead and buy this one if you want to stay ahead of the curve and be seen, and heard, as a true blue Google-Android fan. Others can wait for version 2.