The Moto 360 is the latest smartwatch from well known phone manufacturer Motorola. It’s one of the first smartwatches on the market to feature a circular face, much like a traditional timepiece. With Apple set to enter the market early next year, and various Android Wear devices still arriving this holiday season, it seems like smartwatches might be here to stay. But are they really the ‘next big thing’? On this week’s blog I’ve decided to give my impressions of my first week using the Moto 360.
Let’s be clear, I love playing around with the latest tech. But until now I’ve yet to actually see or use a smartwatch in the flesh. Pebble started things off in 2013 with a smartwatch which uses a black and white e-paper screen – a display which uses a very small amount of power to operate, giving the watch a pretty solid 5-7 day battery life (sometimes more!). That said, it’s not the most beautiful device on the block. When the Pebble Steel launched this year I was tempted to take the plunge, giving the previously plastic device a more premium metal finish. But the style aspect was still holding me back. Let’s be honest, watches are largely worn for fashion purposes these days, making the ‘looks’ an incredibly important aspect of any watch.
The first desirable smartwatch
That’s where the Moto 360 caught my eye, for the first time I thought a smartwatch actually looked pretty nice. So after finally arriving in stock in the UK I nabbed one straight away. After a week of using the device it’s now embedded itself in my daily life. Whilst not a necessity, I’m a big fan of the extra convenience it does provide. I’ll be completely honest, using the Moto 360 made me realise just how little I require a watch to tell the time. I’m sat in an office for most of the day with the clock on my screen, there’s a clock in my car, there’s a clock at the gym, there’s clocks everywhere. And all of these locations require less effort to look at than checking my wrist.
That said, if time telling from your wrist really is your thing there’s plenty of faces to choose from. The watch comes preinstalled with 6 faces which can be lightly customised. If they’re not to your taste the 62p app ‘Facer‘ allows you to install any custom faces created by the community or yourself, and there’s hundreds of pretty great ones out there already, with more being added every day. Google have said custom watchface support will be implemented via an over-the-air update before the end of the year, but currently Facer is your best bet.
Syncing with your phone
Where smartwatches, and the Moto 360, really come into their own is the functionality with your phone. The watch is constantly tethered to your phone via a low powered bluetooth connection. Any notifications you receive on your phone will be pushed to your watch, with a light vibrate. It’s similar to ‘Pushbullet’ which mirrors your notifications on a PC, only it’s on a device that’s with you constantly. This allows you to read messages (including full Whatsapp messages and Facebook messenger conversations) without needing to pull your phone out your pocket – super handy when you’re busy doing other things and want to quickly glance to see if the message is important or can wait. Obviously this also lets you leave your phone on silent pretty much constantly.
App support is currently fairly limited for Android Wear (the OS which the Moto 360 runs on), but new apps are being added daily. Whatsapp, Facebook, OneNote and Talon (my Twitter client of choice) all have full support for Android Wear watches, allowing me to make quick notes, check my messages and tweets whilst my phone stays in my pocket, and even reply using my voice; it felt pretty satisfying the first time this came in handy. There’s even the ability to disable the lockscreen on your phone when the phone is tethered to your Moto 360, handy for those of you out there which use a lockscreen for security purposes but get frustrated having to unlock your phone when it’s by your side.
Media controls are fully supported, allowing you to quickly pause whatever’s playing on your phone, skip song and even adjust volume. I regularly listen to podcasts or music when cooking; the first time I sat down to eat my meal and paused the song using my wrist whilst my phone stayed in my pocket was awesome. It sounds like a small thing, and it is, but it’s genuinely handy and something I now do on a regular basis. Google even added the ability to sync roughly 4gb of music to your watch in the latest Android Wear update, through Google Play Music, allowing you to play music to any bluetooth speaker using just your watch – impressive stuff!
Battery life is just fine, not great, but it does the job. You could probably get through 2 days at a push, depending on how much you used the device. The device charges with a wireless charger that comes included, plop it on the little stand and it automatically changes to a ‘nightclock’ style watchface – displaying the time in digital format along with the current battery level. The display even dims depending on the light, so it’s easily visible but not overpowering in the dark. I’m not someone who’s ever going to wear my watch at night, so having it double-up as a nightclock is super handy. Every night before bed I take it off, drop it on the charger and away it goes.
My final thoughts
Overall my first week with the Moto 360 has left me feeling positive. I can’t wait to get a metal strap for the device, so that it really looks the part. But for now, the functionality has proven useful. It enhances the way I use my phone, giving me more control with less hassle. I genuinely think smartwatches are here to stay, they’re the future. Whilst there’s still a lot of room for improvement, the early signs are very positive. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what’s ahead for the smartwatch market, and I’m excited for future apps and updates.
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