Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Moto 360 Review

As I write this I have had the Moto 360 watch for 4 days, so I am not yet a seasoned pro, but I'm now starting to get used to it.

(Update after 2 weeks is below)

What is it?

In case you have not seen it, the Moto 360 is a smart watch that is paired with your phone.   It is far from the first smart watch, but it is the first watch that I thought was good enough to buy.   A big part of "good enough" is that it looks like a real watch, being round, and it looks great.

How I use it

Mostly I use it as a second display for my phone.   It is much easier to see a notification on my watch than it is to pull out my phone and see what just came in.   The most useful alerts are text messages.   I have also gotten a bunch of Facebook messages and call notifications.       There is a setting to ignore messages from certain apps that I have configured for games, LinkedIn and WiFi notifications.  
You can reject or answer calls from the watch.   If you answer the call and are on a Bluetooth headset you can start talking right away.   If your phone is needed, you still have to pull it out of your pocket. I have a Bluetooth speaker and mic in my ski helmet, so I think this will be a very useful feature while skiing.

Google Now provides alerts for many of my interests.    It will display the SF Giants score as it is happening (configurable for spoilers), tell me when I need to leave to drive to an appointment and other interesting news and event.

Other great uses

I have set up my watch to alert me if I leave my phone somewhere.     Whenever I walk more than 20-30 feet from my phone, my watch alerts me to it.    I'm using Wear Aware.  

My phone unlocks automatically when I am near it.   I set up my watch as a trusted device so that I can skip the lock screen or fingerprint reader.    The phone locks automatically if I leave it somewhere.     Try this or this.

Not so great

Technically, you can initiate actions using the watch.   You can say "Call Fred Phelps" and it should make a call.   Or you can make Google searches or a bunch of other things.   All of this must be done by speaking to the watch, which I find aggravating and error prone.  I find it to be much slower than just pulling out my phone.    I may try to make the call initiation work when I'm skiing, but I'm not really optimistic that it will work in a noisy outdoor environment.

Battery Life

This was the one area I was most concerned about, but fortunately I have not had a problem.    I charge it every night on the included wireless charging stand and I usually have between 40-50% battery life left at the end of the evening.    This is in the default configuration.    There is an "ambient mode" which keeps the screen on all the time that I would prefer to use, but I heard it will drain the battery to fast so I have not tried it yet.    I will try it sometime in the future and report back.


Overall I impressed and am liking the watch even more than I thought I would.    The display is beautiful, the UI works and the battery life is fine.    I have lots of great mechanical watches, so I'm not sure if the 360 can take over completely, but I should know in about a month if it is a "must keep" device or just a toy.

2 Week Update

I have had the watch for two weeks now and I have found the battery life to be way better than expected.   I was able to put the watch into "ambient" mode and never run out of battery.    Ambient mode makes the watch behave much more like a real watch, without any delay in updates or glance capability.    Lots of people are asking about the watch and really like it.