Perhaps there has been no better time to examine the Moto 360. For months the smartwatch from Motorola has been what really amounts to the only Apple Watch competitor in town. Its circular face is more stylish and nicer looking than anything we’ve seen from other devices running Android Wear. Here’s what you need to know about the Moto 360 if you’re thinking about purchasing one, even if the world is preparing for the Apple Watch launch at the end of the month.
What You Get With the Moto 360
Starting at $249.99 for a model that includes a leather strap, Motorola hopes that smartwatch buyers with an eye for design will pick up its watch in droves. That money gets users a pretty interesting looking package. The upcoming Apple Watch and every other smartwatch compatible with Android uses a square screen to display text, notifications and the time. This makes them look and feel like tiny screens strapped to your wrist. Motorola decided it was a better idea to make its watch face round.
The Moto 360 has 1.56-inch touchscreen display. Flanking that display is a simple metal push button knob that lets users manually wake up the device if its software fails to turn on the screen. Inside is a 512MB or RAM, 4GB of storage a 1Ghz processor, an optical heart rate monitor, and a pedometer. The Moto 360 has a wireless charger that turns it into a convenient night stand clock.
The Moto 360 Isn’t a Wearable Computer
When it comes to the usefulness of a smartwatch, there are two lines of thought. Most people looking at smartwatches now are people who want a second screen experience. Both the Apple Watch and Moto 360 are for people who have a smartphone already and want the ability to access maps, music and some other small features on their wrist. The Moto 360 can do these things without a problem thanks to the Android Wear software that connects to smartphones running Android 4.2 or later.
The Moto 360 is more smartphone companion that wearable computer and you’ll run into those limitations pretty quickly. Getting the Moto 360 to work involves tethering directly to the device in your pocket. It feeds off your phone, like a sort of digital vampire. Your smartphone gets a notification and then passes it to the Moto 360, for example. That a Moto 360 can’t survive without a host smartphone is key, because there seems to be a lot of people overlooking that.
The Moto 360 Is a Terrific for Staying Productive & Entertained
In all fairness, the Moto 360 is pretty great for those who need a second screen on their wrist so that they don’t have to pull out their phone.
Physically, the round screen feels much more like a watch than other form factors. You don’t feel awkward for looking at your wrist. What’s more, Motorola added light customization for the different watch faces that you can choose from through its Moto Connect app.
The Moto 360 is only a success if Motorola gives you less reasons to pull out your smartphone every time you get a notification. Instead of having your phone ring, your Moto 360 vibrates when there’s a phone call. You can choose to answer it on your phone or ignore it. Any notifications that you receive on your phone go to the Motorola 360 too. Triaging email and getting information about the next appointment is nice.
What’s nicer is the option to say, “Ok, Google” and get information like movie show times and directions to your destination.
While driving I commanded the Moto 360 to start playing music from a specific artist and it did. What’s more I could skip a song or go to the next song simply by swiping to the left. You can adjust volume from the Moto 360 and the controls change colors based on the relevant album cover.
As a person who doesn’t use Google Play Music all that much, the Moto 360’s ability to communicate with apps that aren’t necessarily aware of its presence is cool tool. Microsoft’s Xbox Music app doesn’t have an Android Wear experience, but does have notification playback controls. The Moto 360 hijacks those so that you can still switch between songs.
Media apps that do have Android Wear experiences are the best though. iHeartRadio allows owners of the Moto 360 to change radio stations add ratings and more without touch their phone. It’s truly impressive.
The Moto 360 is almost a year old and the Apple Watch is coming soon to fight for its place on user’s wrists. If you’re satisfied with your phone and also interested in not having to take it out as much, the Moto 360 is for you. If you’re waiting for something to replace your phone, the Moto 360 isn’t there just yet. The Moto 360 is on sale at Amazon now for as little as $212.