A computer on your wrist was once something for a sci-fi movie, but no longer is this the case. You and I can now wear an intelligent device on your wrist that reduces the need to interact with your smartphone.
With the power of voice you can now set reminders, send text messagers, reply to emails and navigate from point A to B. This ever capable product is referred to as the SmartWatch, and they come in various shapes, sizes and specifications; but the Motorola Moto 360 is the first to become available with a circular face. Earlier this year LG and Samsung released the first Android Wear devices and the general experience of Android Wear has not really changed too much. The key differentiator for Android Wear SmartWatches is hardware. Personally I like watches, I wear one on a daily basis so found the Moto 360 to be a comfortable replacement. At 49g there is little difference in the feeling on the wrist. Compared to the LG G Watch, the Moto 360 instantly felt lighter and looked more desirable. The Grey leather strap and stainless steel bezel add a touch of class and the function button on the right edge makes the 360 look like a watch. What was more noticeable was the thickness of the watch. Marginal so it is, but the 360 measures 11.5mm high, whereas the G Watch is just shy of 10. During my time with the 360, it is has taken a few knocks and bumps with no obvious signs of damage, which is respectable. There has been much talk about the circular watch face of the 360 and there is no denying the appeal is there. At 1.56” and with 205PPI I believe the display is ‘just about right’ when it comes to size. Big enough that it is practical but small enough that you do not feel like some sci-fi figure when wearing and using it. Frustratingly, built into the very bottom of the display is a black bar that houses sensors and screen connections which leaves an obvious portion of the display in theory unused. It impacts on that initial wow factor but truthfully after a short while you do not really notice it, nor does it hamper the experience. On the rear of the watch is heart rate monitor and Qi wireless charging. Squashed inside is too a 320mAh battery, 4GB of internal storage and 512MB RAM. As a watch is exposed to the elements, the 360 has an IP67 rating which will resist the rain, sweat and the odd interaction with the washing up bowl. For the majority of the time, I had the screen set to medium brightness and rarely felt the need to increase it. The display even manages to be readable in fairly bright sunlight which is good. If I had to find fault and this is being picky is the bezel on the display that causes a RGB effect that essentially pixelates and shows the colours of the screen. This is most noticeable on lighter screens and it will rarely catch your eye, but it exists. Battery power and charging is without doubt the problem for the current crop of SmartWatches. Whilst the Moto 360 is capable of lasting more than a day, personally if you are able to manage to get more than that from it, you are unlikely taking full benefit from it. I was not in the position where it ‘died’ on me, but I can imagine a particularly long day at the office may see the 360 struggling as your evening draws to a close. A powerful addition to the Moto 360 is the Qi wireless charging. Whilst it has its own stylish dock, other charging pads can be used, which makes it slightly more convenient. About an hour on charge will take the 360 from 0 to 100% and you should be good for about another day. For those with little interest in technology, when see a SmartWatch like the 360, there is a definite wow factor. On several occasions I got an inquisitive look and that interesting acknowledgement once I explained what it does. The ultimate purpose and benefit of Android Wear is the reduction in interactions with your smartphone. Whilst it constantly needs to be in range and functional to ensure the watch works, together they make a powerful combination.. I like many others find times such as driving and walking in busy environments most rewarding, as a quick glance at the wrist is easier and more sensible than pulling out your phone. For the sake of clarity, Android Wear is Google’s wearable technology software and is based on Android and integrates only with smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher and Bluetooth 4.0. ‘OK Google’ followed the necessary command is the most common way in which you interact with the watch. You can do anything from a web search for your favourite celebrity to changing the music playing to finding out how many steps you have taken. Android Wear still feels like it could be better designed in places, the location of the settings and apps for me seem difficult to get to. A third party app ‘‘Wear Mini Launcher’ solves a lot of these issues placing a menu on the main screen accessible from a swipe from left to right. How useful and powerful Android Wear is to you will depend on what phone features and apps you rely on. Those ‘sold’ into Android and the Google ecosystem will be rewarded most. The ability to change watch faces makes the 360 feel more individual. A dedicated Motorola Connect app is available and that allows you to put a personal touch on the existing face options, but changing colours and parts of the layout. The 360 will vibrate and show you who is calling and you can answer, reject or reject with a text message that call. Just like other Android Wear products at the moment, you can not then complete that call from the watch, you need to get your phone out. There is no speaker on the watch, so whilst speaking to my wrist and having it play back the call audio is not something I would want in every scenario, it would be useful, especially for very short calls. Google Fit, is the pedometer element of the Android Wear, although fairly basic it is functional. It is a great motivational tool and certainly got me taking a few extra steps. Motorola’s enhancement to this is with their heart rate sensor which is handy for those who are interested in such. I found it to be quite hit and miss, with readings being hard to take unless perfectly still. At times I felt the process was more hassle than it was worth. What is good though is the ‘heart activity’ feature which encourages 30 minutes a day of increased aerobic activity. It will automatically pick up if you have achieved it, or you can tell it you are about to do so and it will provide a clock/countdown timer with a pleasant graphic to show you how long you have left to achieve the goal. I am still undecided as to whether I wish to replace my watch for a SmartWatch. I do not think I am quite there yet, but the 360 has increased my desire to do so thanks to the less computer on the wrist look that it has. The 360 is not perfect, it is a little chunky, the round watch face is not truly round when you come to use it; the battery life is questionable and the heart rate monitor will not as yet have die hard fitness fans jumping to it. None the less it is a very powerful companion that will reduce the need for you to check your phone. If you do not currently wear a watch then the 360 and other Android Wear products will offer you something, if you can justify the cost. They are not cheap, but they are wrist mounted computers and compared to many watches they are comparably priced, yet potentially offer you more. If I chose to buy personally, at the time of recording and from the current choice, I would opt for the Motorola Moto 360.