This post was written in June, 2015. Some of the content may be outdated.
When it comes to smart watches, all anyone can ever think about now is the apple watch. The square, force touch equipped crown button wielding overpriced wrist gadget has, thanks to Apple’s incredible marketing team and loyal following, completely dwarfed the Android Wear (and pebble and other smartwatch makers) legions into being not much more than the sound of a sigh-of-disappointment coming from the mouth of an enthusiastic inquisitor after asking “Is that an Apple watch?!”, and receiving the rehearsed answer of “Nope, It’s a Moto360! A quarter of the price, a damn sight more stylish in my opinion and it does almost the exact same thing!”
But, less of my disappointment at Google’s marketing team, and less of my shameful thinly veiled passive aggressive digs Apple fans. (I’m not OS-ist – some of my best friends are apple fans!1!11!!!). Let’s touch upon the matter at hand – the Moto360. What is it like, and should you buy one?
I’ve had the Moto360 for around 6 months, at the time of publishing. I purchased it with leftover Christmas & birthday money, as well as a stray £100 Amazon voucher. I don’t want to comment on how much I paid for it because literally a week after the price dropped by £75, and so I feel like a complete and utter dip-shit. Regardless – even at the price I paid, it was fair. More than fair.
The charging stand is gorgeous, sleek and simple. It acts as a handy night stand, and since my Nexus 5 uses Wireless charging, I’m not sure I could live with diverting back to the stone age ritual of plugging it in to charge.
The battery life is…fine? Whether the watch is on 20% or 99% battery at the end of the day, I’m always going to take it off before I go to bed and therefore it only ever needs to last a day, and it does. For the record, it’s usually at around 40-60% by the time I put it on charge after it has been in use from 7am-12am. If only my phone could manage that.
I love the design. I may be biased because I’ve been staring at this eclipse of beauty for the past 6 months, but I prefer to any other smartwatch out there on the market. Many people (Almost always people who do not own a Moto360) pipe up about the little black bezel at the bottom. Honestly, you stop noticing that after about 3 days, and now it’s got to the point where I despise it when people point it out to me, because then I start noticing it again for a few days.
The selection of watch faces is countless. What good is a watch without a good watch face? The standard Motorola watch faces are great, and apps like Facer allow you to download (and create) thousands upon thousands of designs. I’ve been using Tuxedo for the past 3 months, and I love it.
The selection of apps is fine for me. I have to apologise at this point and say that I’m not a heavy user of apps for the Moto360 – I tend to use it for notifications, cycling using strava, and checking my phone battery with wear mini launcher. Although, I do very much enjoy playing around with ‘Lookbehind’ and ‘Find my Phone’
Cinema mode. It’s an underrated feature, but one that I’ve found myself using countless times. Mostly, as the name would suggest, in the cinema. This feature stops your watch from lighting up through the gyroscope detecting that it’s facing you and instead requires you to push the button to light it up. It’s saved me from many embarrassing flashes in dark places, and countless distractions whilst driving at night on roads without street lights.
Directions using maps. The most use I get out of my watch in terms of a hands on continuous format is when I’m in the car. I no longer have to drain the already shoddy battery of my Nexus 5 by mounting it in my car and constantly displaying a 5 inch moving packet of pixels in the shape of a map – now I simply set maps going, lock my phone and use quick glances at my wrist to tell me where to go. Saving battery, saving time, and hopefully thanks to fewer distractions – saving lives.
Music controls. I couldn’t live without this feature now. If you’re listening to GPM or Spotify, then the watch displays a control pad for skip, rewind, vol. up and vol. down. It is a god-sent. Never again to I have to reach for my phone, reach for my Bluetooth device or reach for my car channel tuner. I just flick my wrist, swipe right and skip the songs until I find one I can wail along to on the way to Jui Jitsu before pretending I wasn’t just listening to Iggy Azalea.
Glance able notifications. Perhaps the biggest reason I like the 360 is the glanceable and dismissible notifications – of course, this is the sole purpose of the watch, so this makes sense. The ability to see an email, and dismiss it, see a reminder on my wrist to pick up some milk or any of the other hundreds and hundreds of phone, app or google now notifications is lush, and something I’m not sure I could manage without the convenience of.
“OK Google” works like a charm, and I’ve taken countless notes and send countless text messages on it whilst either driving or feel so damn lazy I can’t be bothered to pick my phone up. Judge me – I paid for this circular computer so I’m gonna make the most out of it.
The unreliability of the Heart rate monitor and health apps. I don’t use Google Fit very often because it kept telling me I was cycling when I was driving and walking when I was cycling. As well as this, I’ve never got an accurate reading on the heart rate monitor. I’m either dead or the 6th player taking his turn in a game of Russian Roulette. Besides, who really cares about your heart rate? I can understand wanting to know your heart rate over the course of an entire bike ride, but when you’re sat still in your office? So what – as long as it works!
When I swipe down from the top to check my battery % and date, I always change the priority mode whilst trying to swipe the screen back up. This might just be me and my dopey fingers, and I know I could just click the button on the right twice to turn it off and back on the home screen, but It shouldn’t be that hard. /rant
“Ok Google”. “Dude you just said it works like a charm! What the hell, do you even proofread? Get out.” With this complaint, I’m referring to the little “Ok Google” text that pops up on the screen sometimes when you unlock it, reminding you of the watch’s voice search capabilities. I learned from some whizz’s on Reddit that it does this when you haven’t used voice search in a few days, and (When I read this) there is no way to turn it off. This might be fixed in an upcoming update. If so, I’ll be the first person to lie on the internet.
I hate dismissing all the Google now junk 3 times a day. Every morning, I need to dismiss a ‘weather at home’, ‘weather at work’ and ‘time to work’ Google now card to see my watch face. The same thing happens at around noon, and again towards the end of the day. When this happens, it takes a glanceable screen into a 3-swipe screen. Reeeaaallly frustrating. I can’t even disable these in Google Now to solve the problem, because I want to the know the weather, and the traffic to work – I just don’t want it on my watch, 3 times a day, that takes 3 swipes to dismiss. Again, the next update may bring with it a ‘dismiss all’ button – in which case, fire profanities at me.
[Update: A Reddit user pointed out that a swipe down whilst a notification is showing will hide it and show the watch face. This ^ is no longer a(s big of a) problem!]
When people asks to see what my watch does, I have to always say “Well, I need a notification…”. It’s hard enough to explain to certain generations why I have a computer on my wrist as it is, let alone when all they see are pixels behaving exactly like a normal watch.
You can see the pixels. This doesn’t really bother me, but now and again when I hold it closer than normal, I see the red second hand circle round, and the pixels stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a fair trade for battery life and performance, but in world of pixel paradise, it’s strange to see them, sometimes. (first world problems?)
When I first got the Moto360, I tried to use it like a mini phone. I’d download a shit tonne of apps, play around with it all day, use the calculator on it instead of just pulling my phone out, text on it when my computer or phone were already out and in reach and countless other things. Essentially making my life harder for the sake of making use of this new gadget. The quicker I grew out of this, the better the watch was for me.
Now, I use it almost like you would a pager, back in the day (I don’t claim to be old enough to have ever owned one – I just understand the function of a pager, and feel this is similar.) My wrist vibrates, and instead of taking my phone out every time, I glance down. What I see next dictates my next action.
An email that isn’t urgent? Swipe.
A text that isn’t time sensitive? Swipe.
A reminder to pick up milk? Swipe the other way, ‘Remind me again in an hour’.
A call from someone important? Swipe to answer the call whilst simultaneously pulling my phone out and beginning to talk.
A text I want to reply to? I just pull my phone out.
what I’ve grown to love about this watch, is that for every 10 notifications on my phone, 9 of them can be swiped away and dealt with later, maybe at a desktop, and one of them is important. On the one hand the Moto360 helps me avoid wiggling around in my pocket or being rude at the table by alerting me to all the crap (I subscribe to too many email newsletters), and on the other hand, makes sure I don’t miss a text from my mate Liam when he texts me the sacred question: “Pub?”. Swipe, Reply Via SMS…”Yep”…
If you’re reading this, then you either own a Moto360, or were already thinking of getting one. If you were thinking of getting one and have got this far still not having this question answered, you probably shouldn’t get one.
I do recommend it though.