A SMART WATCH THAT LOOKS LIKE A WATCH – THE MOTO 360 HANDS-ON

I know what you’re all thinking right now, ‘A watch that… looks like a watch. Okay Ben, what nonsense are you spouting this time?’

I give you… the Motorola Moto 360!

MOTO_360

See?! It’s round and has an analogue clock face (well, a digital representation of one!), which means it’s a watch! Close enough. It’s sleek and kinda nice looking. It could look nicer, but I feel as though we’re in early days for Smart Watch design. Those guys over at Android and Moto were probably more concerned with getting it to do the nerdy, secret agent spy watch things we want it to do. But does it achieve?

I’ve been wearing it for about three days now, testing out as many features of the watch as I can and honestly – I’m pleasantly surprised. I was dubious; what could such a device do it actually impress me?

Within seconds of putting on the surprisingly comfortable watch, I was tracking my heart rate, counting how many steps it took me to walk home, answering (and making) phone calls, changing songs and the volume, viewing my emails, text and WhatsApp messages, checking when and where my next lecture takes place and, strangely enough, checking the time.

A few days later, it’s already sitting comfortably with my already very tech-heavy life style. Apart from when the battery dies, like in the middle of snapping pictures for this article. Speaking of the battery, I’ve found that it holds up reasonably well for a majority of the day under light to heavy usage, but it hasn’t got the best battery life in the world. On the plus side, it charges super quick (under an hour) and it even looks cool and stylish doing that because it comes with a Wireless Qi charging stand!

MOTO_360 [2]

 

MOTO_360 [3]

 

It was just gone midnight when I wrote this, with a helpful 9am lecture the following day…

Anyway, notifications and information the watch thinks you might like to know appear as ‘cards’, similar to how the Google Now feature works. You can view them by tapping on them or you can get rid of them by swiping them off to the right of the screen. Neat.

As a side note, the clock faces are very customisable. The watch has in inbuilt settings menu (reached by holding down the only physical button on the watch) that allows you to change between the defaults on the watch. For even more customisation, the partnering smart phone app ‘Motorola Connect’ allows you to change the background pick, clock hand styles etc. For the purposes of this article and my own amusement, I’ve made a picture of my housemate my watch background.

MOTO_360 [4]

 

The big feature Google added to their search engine service, ‘Google Now’ was Voice Recognition. It was added as standard into Android devices (much like iOS’s Siri) and into Chrome browsers. Sure, it’s not as fun or sarcastic sounding as iOS’s Siri but it does the job and works very well. Google Now’s Voice Recognition has made its way into the Android Wear devices in a big way; all you have to do is say ‘Ok Google’ whilst the screen is on or double tap the clock and it brings up the search function where you can ask it anything you want. It, like Siri, like’s the built in functions more though: ‘What’s my Agenda today?
Remind me, in an hour, to pick up Milk.
What’s my heart rate?
Make a note…
Navigate me to my house’.
It’s cool and fun to experiment with. The Google Now voice commands is also what’s use to reply to texts and WhatApp messages. And yes, I either look crazy talking to my wrist or kinda cool, like a secret agent.

There aren’t a massive number of apps that have Android Wear features right now. Google’s own apps like Maps, Google Keep (Sticky Note app) and the recently released, Google Fit, obviously have support. When I ask Google Now to ‘Make a note…’ it’ll take everything I say after that and put it into the Google Keep app.

Whilst the watch does have a bunch of Motorola health apps built it, I’ve preferred the Google Fit app, which is Google’s attempt at making a fitness app. It does count how many steps you’ve taken (to which you can make daily goals to try and keep too all through the phone app) and you can use it to check your heart rate to which I’ve had minor success!

Me whilst sitting and writing this article:

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And me after some minor exercise, (basically me going up and down the stairs a couple of times):

MOTO_360 [6]

 

I’ve been very interested to see what this watch can do in the short amount of time I’ve had it so far! There is so much more I could have covered, such as a work-in-progress Internet browser and even using the watch as a second screen for your phones camera! Amazing! I’ve been quite impressed and how functional it actually can be for checking notifications and lecture times for example. Viewing messages is all well and good but replying through voice commands is a bit temperamental and honestly, a little embarrassing. The health stuff is pretty basic at the minute, but in those rare moments I find myself wondering ‘I wonder what my heart rate is right now?’, I can now find out.

I’ll be closely watching how Android Wear apps change and develop. I’m wondering just how many apps we can get to work with the watch. I want to be able to watch a movie on it next.

 

Ben Howgill

@benhowgill

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