My experience with the Moto 360
I’ve been looking forward to this watch since it was first announced in the Summer, even more so than the iPhone 6 release last month. I was one of the many expecting a release or at least a firm release date for the device at Google IO earlier this year however all we got was a release of more ‘geeky’ looking square smartwatch’s to add to the array of existing ‘not very good’ smartwatches. A few more months passed and the Moto 360 was released in the US with still no word on a UK release date. Then out of nowhere stock appeared on the O2 website and I ordered immediately, pretty poor of Motorola to launch so quietly with not even an inclination of an actual release date although this was possibly intentional given shortage of stocks.
The watch arrived a week ago today and like a kid at christmas I couldn’t wait to get to grips with it. Following unboxing the watch surprisingly still had some charge and I was able to use it straight away. My first impression of the hardware was that it looked and felt really well built, was not as thick as it appeared in the press images however I expected the strap to be slightly thicker.
My daily phone is an iPhone however I have a Nexus 4 for development purposes which I planned to use with the Moto 360. I hit a road block immediately, I installed the Android Wear app from the Play Store then attempted to pair the phone with the watch only to be greeted with a message explaining that the latest version of the Google Search app was required and that I had to update this first then delete the Android Wear app and to reinstall it from the Play Store! Yes you did read that right…I was asked to delete an app, update another and then reinstall the app I deleted, seriously Google?
Following that I managed to get the watch paired up with no further issues. The transfer of notifications from the phone to the watch was seamless and my gmail emails we’re starting to show up immediately. I found the heart rate sensor to be a bit hit and miss, sometimes attempting to read for what felt like a long time only to keep failing. I very quickly found Android wear to be severely lacking functionality, other than receiving of notifications and a dodgy heart rate sensor there’s not a great deal else to do.
I decided to have a look 0n the play store to try and extend the functionality through apps. I tried Bunting a Twitter app for Android Wear however I found it’s not actually compatible with the Moto 360 (despite allowing me to download it). I found this to be the case with a number of other Android Wear apps. I found the battery life to be great with around 40% by the time I put it onto the dock at night however after reading articles detailing screen burn issues with the Moto, once full charged I always took it off the dock as the screen can’t be turned off whilst charging. The detection which activates the screen when you raise your wrist worked really when when raising your arm, the only problem was that it also activates the screen constantly in normal daily use which gets slightly frustrating after a while especially in a dark room or driving at night for example.
In the end, given the Moto 360′s lack of functionality and support, I decided it simply wasn’t worth the £200 price tag and returned the device to O2. I’ve no doubt as Android Wear matures and support increases for round faced devices along with an improvement in the hardware, these devices will be a much more tempting sell along with being much more useful. I really hope Motorola continue to iterate on this design as I much prefer the round faced watches. The hardware alone however won’t be enough, Google really need to advance Android Wear to make it into something inherently useful and something that people will actually buy into (an Android Wear app for iOS would also be nice ;o) ).