Moto 360 - Metal Band

Thoughts on the Moto 360

Moto 360 - Metal Band

Official Motorola Blog:

Moto 360 keeps you on time and up to date without taking you out of the moment or distracting you, telling you what you need to know before you know you need it through subtle alerts and notifications. With just a twist of the wrist you can see who’s emailing or calling, what time your next meeting is or a friend’s latest social post.

First things first; I’m more excited about the Moto 360 than any other smartwatch to date. I think this is really a step in the right direction for smartwatch design in general; a rounded face just looks so much more natural, so much nicer.

Actually now I think about it, a rounded face is something that translates so much more easily into a unisex design (provided they can shrink it down to a smaller size). Blocky square watch designs are typically more masculine. A circular watch though? I could see that as a women’s watch, no problem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnerqDWwVgg

(Incidentally, Motorola aren’t total strangers to rounded displays either. Other gadget tragics like me might remember the Motorola Aura handset from 2008, an audacious luxury handset with a rounded TFT display. Truly a handset that personified mid-00’s Motorola, riding high on the amazing success of the V3 Razr.)

I certainly have my questions about the Moto 360; the quote above seems to indicate that the display is turned on by ‘twisting your wrist’. So as you raise your arm to look at the display, it flips on, stays on for a set period, then shuts back off again. This might be similar to the Quick Capture feature on the Moto X. I’m betting that little ‘dial’ on the side of the watch doubles as a sleep/wake button too, to manually switch the screen off when you’re done.

This is one way to solve the battery problems inherent in a display that’s always on, but I’m sure it won’t be an easy feat to accomplish accurately. What’s the difference between twisting your wrist up to your face, and just idly swinging your arm around?

I’ve no idea, but it’s an important question that motion sensors and software will have to solve in order to have watch-sized batteries go the distance. Certainly any company who’s looking seriously at wearables is desperately trying to crack this nut.

Moto-360_Map

There’s also no visible charging port on the Moto 360 (check for yourself on their site – there’s a 360 view down the bottom). This might indicate that Motorola is exploring a wireless charging option, which is something that I think smartwatches absolutely need. The last thing I want to do is plug a watch in every night before I go to bed.

On the size? I think the watch is just a tad too thick to be mistaken for a regular watch, even a large-faced watch. No doubt most of that thickness is battery. These devices need to find a way to get thinner before they’ll be a mainstream device.

I believe that a successful design will be a smartwatch that’s not immediately discernible as a smartwatch. The Pebble Steel is getting close. I think the Moto 360 is getting closer. But it’s still not quite there.

There’s a Google Hangout in 2 days where the lead designer is going to discuss the design and style features of the Moto 360. I’m keen to tune in and see what’s up with some of these details. Battery life, charging method and the accuracy of the flip-wrist-to-turn-on sensors will be top of my question list.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xQ3y902DEQ

Finally, I wanted to just chat briefly about Android Wear, the operating system that will power this device. It’s a solution than seems a much better fit for wearables (pun intended) than what we’re seeing with the Samsung Gear 2 & Gear Fit devices. However, I still don’t have a lot of confidence in Google’s ability to say they’ve solved the input problem of smartwatches.

Google seems to think I will talk to my watch in public. I’ll never say never, but right now? That seems unlikely. If I won’t even talk to a phone in public because it’s embarrassing, the chance I’ll do it with a watch is zero.

If that above video is anything to go by, Android Wear is a series of interesting ideas on how to surface useful information in the world around you, made by a company that has entirely no self-awareness about how people want to behave in public.

Kinda like Google Glass, actually.

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