On October 8th I greedily snatched a package out of the FedEx guy’s hands, and quickly started unboxing my Moto 360 right there in the doorway, turning it on for the very first time. While excited for a new toy to play with, I’ll be honest: I wasn’t for sure what to expect from the device.
Sure, I’d seen some reviews and knew a good deal about the AW platform, but would I really enjoy wearing a watch again after years of ditching a wearable timepiece in favor of a cellphone? Would the features be enough to lure me in, or would it be more a novelty piece to show off to friends? I immediately shared my first impressions of the device via our forums, though I admitted I was still unsure of certain aspects.
Would I really enjoy wearing a watch again after all these years?
Now that more than a month has passed, the honeymoon phase is over and I can honestly tell you a bit about how the Moto 360 does (or doesn’t) fit in my life, and whether I’d recommend that others pick one up.
Obviously everyone is different, and so other users of the Moto 360 may have a very different opinion than mine. Without further ado, let’s jump in and take a look at both at the watch and the platform.
When I first started thinking about picking up an Android Wear device to play with, I almost immediately was drawn to the circular form factor. While square works well enough, there’s just something about circular watches that comes off as classic and a bit more refined.
I had considered waiting off for the G Watch R, which would have a more energy efficient processor and better battery life. Ultimately though, I liked the way the 360 looked and felt it was worth ignoring some potential quirks in order to experience it. Now that I’ve had it for a month, I can say I still love the way the watch looks, and I get compliments about it on a fairly regular basis.
Now that I’ve had it for a month, I can say I still love the way the watch looks
The round shape and curves are clean, and the single button is unobtrusive and semi-useful on occasion. The display is equally easy to read, always bright enough even when outdoors. I also find that the “flat tire”on the bottom of the display doesn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would, though I admit I can’t use a white watchface — only black, as it better hides the flat tire look.
Another thing I really like about the Moto 360 is that it is lightweight, and while big, isn’t so massive that I feel awkward. Unfortunately, my love doesn’t extend to the leather strap — at least when it comes to looks.
I own the silver/stone model and find that the ‘stone’ strap is very comfortable to wear, but it looks pretty cheap. I’ve had several folks who told me they thought it was some kind of faux leather. Additionally, the strap seems to scuff easily, at least for me that’s been the case. It’s for that reason I’m considering getting a new strap, either an official Moto 360 one or perhaps a 3rd party choice (which Motorola recommends against). I do prefer leather over metal when it comes to comfort, though.
In addition to the flat tire, the Moto 360 has often come under fire for its battery life. I will admit that early on, I totally agreed that battery life was poor. A few software updates later, and things are much better.
While it’s true that Snapdragon 400-based alternatives still do better, I have found that I average 16 to 18 hours of life with the ambient screen on (screen always on). With the screen off when not in use, it lasts about 27 to 29 hours. For someone who almost always is near and charger and takes off his watch every night for comfort reasons, I find that the Moto 360’s battery life is good enough.
While it’s true that Snapdragon 400-based alternatives still do better, I have found that I average 16 to 18 hours of life with the ambient screen on
If I was camping or in another situation without power for extended periods of time (like 2+ days)? Things might get a bit more dicey, though you could always use a power pack and hook up the Moto 360’s cradle to it, since the cradle works with any standard microUSB cable. For now, it’s not a situation I’ve had to deal with, but the day could come.
As for charging? It’s easy. You simply place the watch in its cradle and it starts charging, no wires and no need to plug things in. On the downside, you’ll need to invest in additional cradles (or any QI charger will do) if you are the kind of person who wants to be able to charge in your car, office and other places without having to drag around your main cradle.
I’m not going to talk about specs here, other than to point out the watch uses an older Texas Instruments processor, instead of more common choices like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. The reason I’m not focusing on hardware is that Android Wear is about performance and user experience, not specs.
Still, you have to wonder, are the Moto 360’s “less advanced” internals up for the job? The answer is yes. At least most of the time. Early on I read reviews and other reports about occasional stuttering, freezing and dropped signal issues with the Moto 360. In the first few days I ran into a few other these problems, but software updates made nearly all these issues go away. That is, except dropped signals.
At least once a day (sometimes twice), my watch still randomly drops its signal from the phone. While annoying, it’s not a huge dealbreaker as the experience usually resolves itself automatically in just a few minutes. How do I know when it drops? My phone finder app tells me my phone isn’t in range and so my wrist starts buzzing.
Aside from this, I find the entire UI experience lag free and find it just as good as any other Android Wear device.
Let’s face it, hardware and aesthetics are pretty much the main factors that set different Android Wear devices apart from one another, due to the fact that all current watches have a ‘stock’ Android Wear experience, except for a few minor changes like custom watch faces. So how do I feel about Android Wear as a platform, after thirty days of use? I can honestly say I like it a lot.
I’m not going to run through all the features that Android Wear has to offer, as we’ve covered this before. For a better idea of how the Moto 360 and Android Wear work in conjunction, check out our full review:
So what are my favorite things about Android Wear?
What I like
I don’t find myself needing to whip out the phone all the time
I hear detractors of Android Wear say all the time “It’s foolish to spend $200+ on something that only saves me the second or two it would take to pull out my phone”. I hear you, and I used to think the same thing. I’ll be honest here, if you are someone who uses your phone mainly for gaming, some socializing, phone calls and the like — you are probably right.
On the other hand, if you are a business person or perhaps even a student that deals with tons of emails, texts, social networking responses and similar? AW is a godsend. I am now able to quickly see what that email is about and dismiss it if it’s not something that needs my immediate attention. I can also walk around the house without having to worry about where my phone is to ensure I am able to receive incoming messages and notifications.
Even better, I like to use Android Wear when out and about as I can quickly check things without being overly obvious about it. Whether at diner with my wife and/or friends, or even during a movie — I can glance at my watch without being rude about it. After all, there’s something more polite about glancing at a watch then staring at a massive display.
Controlling my tunes just got a whole lot better
Whether I connect my phone to my home stereo or my car, I can now easily change music as long as I’m within range. The Android Wear UI makes it so easy (especially after the most recent update) that I don’t even need to look at my watch to change a song, as I’ve memorized the motions needed and where the on-screen buttons are at.
The option to respond from my watch
More than just getting notifications, you can actually respond to texts and Hangout messages. Same with emails and certain other types of notifications. Do I actually use my voice to respond? Not regularly, but there have been moments where it was convenient to do so, and so it is still an appreciated option, even if I’ll admit I don’t use the voice aspects of the watch as much as Google probably hopes users will.
Grocery list management is now easier
Yes, I’m one of those guys that carries a grocery list. Or rather, I make a list of items in Google Keep and carry it around. Now I can simply create the list and check it off from my wrist, thanks to Google Keep integration. Not everyone will find this useful or practical, but I sure as hell do.
Find my phone, and the Wear Mini Launcher
I don’t use third-party apps very often, but when I do, I use one of the two I just mentioned (yes.. I did go there..). Find my phone makes it easy to, urm, find my phone when I misplace it (daily…). As for the Wear Mini Launcher? It allows me to set timers, open apps and do other things without having to use my voice to get the job done.
What I dislike
So that’s what I like most about Android Wear. Are there things I don’t like? Yes, yes there are!
Many apps and services don’t have very good integration — yet
Okay, I realize these area early days for Android Wear, but right now there are many different kinds of notifications I get that I can’t respond to or that I can’t get full information on. For example, Slack delivers the last thing that was said, but I can’t really look back in detail or respond. Obviously this is up to 3rd party developers and not something I can fault Google for, but I still find it annoying.
Thankfully, I’m sure in time this will be a moot issue.
Missed potential for better phone call integration
There are many times that my wrist starts buzzing and someone is calling me. The problem? My phone is in another room of the house and so I have to go find it. While you can answer the call on your wrist, you can’t speak to the person. I wish Google had made it so there was a way to answer and have the watch send an automatic voice response like “The person you are calling will be with you in a moment. Please hold”. That would be brilliant. Again, it’s a little thing.
It just feels a bit unfinished
The inability to recall swiped away notifications, not being able to open up and look back at chat conversations on the fly, the inability to add widgets or special notifications into existing watch faces — there’s so many little thing I wish the watch could do that it doesn’t. Ultimately I like Android Wear a lot but feel it’s not quite there yet.
Thankfully some of my complaints will be addressed in the watch’s upcoming Lollipop update. I also realize that I’m an early adopter, so I can’t have it all!
As you might have noticed, I have more positive things to say about Android Wear (and the 360) than negative. Additionally my complaints are all pretty minor, at least in my humble opinion. All in all, I feel Android Wear does a very good job at doing what it is supposed to do… but is that enough? For me, yes.
I have no desire to get rid of the Moto 360 and I fervently believe that the platform will only get better with age. Already my Moto 360 is many times more useful then it was the first day I turned it on, thanks to both Google and Motorola. Do I really use it everyday though? Most days.
Because I work at home, I have my phone and laptop within reach for probably 90% of the day. That means sometimes I don’t put the Moto 360 on right away. That said, when I go out for extended periods of time (anything over 30 minutes), I always put my watch on and feel weird without it. Part of the reason is I like showing off my nerdy side, but it’s also legitimately handy for when I’m not at home.
I fervently believe that the platform will only get better with age and already my Moto 360 is many times more useful then it was the first day I turned it on
But what about you? I think the Moto 360 and AW in general is best for someone who likes the idea of controlling music easier, getting quick notifications in places that it would be impolite to bring out your phone, or if you simply want to be a bleeding-edge nerd. For the average consumer, I’m not sure if Android Wear is there yet, though I think there will come a day when it is. Until then, I’m just enjoying the ride.
For other Moto 360 (and/or Android Wear) users, what do you think of the platform and the watch of your choice? How do you use it, would you recommend it to others?