…it’s bigger, has a foldable display and runs Android.
…it’s bigger, has a foldable display and runs Android.
Over the last year I’ve played with just about every flagship smart phone available. Each device had better specs than my day to day phone, a trusty iPhone 5. The Samsung Galaxy S5 had twice the RAM and a better processor, the Nokia 930 had a better screen and camera, the HTC One (M8) was just sexier in every way. Yet none of these flagships really excited me. Instead, the phone that I’ve fallen in love with is a mid range device from little old Motorola. Continue reading
Mat Honan at Wired:
We see a lot of phones here at WIRED. Right now, for example, we’ve got the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, Nokia Lumia Icon, iPhone 5s and all sorts of other flagship devices. But what I’m really fired up about are a handful of cheap handsets. The amazing cheap-o handset is the new iPhone.
It’s genuinely great that you can buy a capable smartphone (for most people their daily ‘computer’, their camera & their way to stay in contact with others), for under $200 now.
Dieter Bohn at The Verge:
But first, you should know that Project Ara is not, technically, a phone. It’s not even that accurate to call it a project. It’s more like a mission. The end goal for ATAP is to hand off a viable product and stewardship of a hardware ecosystem to Google — Eremenko and his small team aren’t just building a series of proof-of-concept prototypes; they’re attempting to build an industry within an industry.
Project Ara is an incredibly ambitious goal. I like that there’d be way to get a phone with specialised components (like an air pollution sensor, or a hygrometer, stuff like that). I also like that if you smash your screen, you could just pop it out and get another one on the cheap. It would even be cool to be able to add a massive honkin’ battery for long trips or conferences.
Will it work? I’m not sure. I think this kind of diversity of choice in a phone would freak normal people out. Even if manufacturers curate or moderate the choices, I think people will naturally still drift towards the simple choice of a ‘complete’ phone.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
TechCrunch has confirmed reports that Lenovo is buying Motorola Mobility from Google. This is the division within Google that the company purchased in 2011 for $12.5 billion. Motorola Mobility will go to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.
Of that $2.91 billion, $1.41 billion will be paid at the close of the deal. $660 million will be comprised of US cash and $750 million in Lenovo ordinary shares. The remaining $1.5 billion will be paid in the form of a three-year promissory note.
Well that’s certainly some interesting news to wake up to this morning. It looks like Google will be hanging onto various bits, including the vast patent portfolio and the Advanced Technology Group within Motorola.
Larry Page addressed Google employees in a leaked memo:
… the smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all in when it comes to making mobile devices. It’s why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo–which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest growing) PC manufacturer in the world. This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere.
Well, there you go. Nest in, Motorola out.
Daniel Tyson at Ausdroid:
We’ve been chasing the Motorola Moto G for a few weeks now, it’s not a high end handset but as the first Motorola handset released in Australia that the hardware and software design has been influenced by Google it’s been a highly anticipated release.
Cool. Like we said on the podcast, I’m glad this handset finally got a proper Australian release date. Right now, it looks like Ausdroid have confirmed it’ll be stocked at Telechoice ($279), The Good Guys ($247) & JB Hifi ($243) from tomorrow. No updates on any of their websites though, annoyingly.