Moto 360: My Year With A Smartwatch

Moto360_watches

If you’ve ever wanted a smartwatch chances are (like me) you’ve sat through countless episodes of Knightrider and worn out VHS tapes rewinding, pausing, slow mo-ing to get a better glimpse of that computer watch on his wrist. With that said I didn’t need to check out the specs of the Moto 360  to know I wanted one after launching last year as the first Android Wear watch. My reasons for wanting one were simple.  Finally I could dive across the bonnet of mycar chasing criminals whilst talking to my watch.

In the mid 80’s there was a mini boom in Casio Calculator Watches. There was only so much fun you could get from doing sums on your wrist or trying to spell words using upside down numbers.  For almost thirty years I’ve waited for the day when I could do some really cool stuff by talking into my wrist.

It’s now almost a year since I first picked up my Moto 360.  As the initial novelty value fades slightly and the debate continues as to whether there is a longterm future for smartwatches it seems like a good time to evaluate and take stock as to whether my Moto 360 has been a useful everyday tool or purely a nice gadget for a gadget addict heavily influenced by 80’s TV.

The novelty value of having a voice commanded watch still hasn’t fully worn off. If nothing else this little gadget has been value for money for being a conversation starter with friends, colleagues as well as many complete strangers. Never before have I carried a device that has invited so many reactions from intrigue to pure contempt on a regular basis. I’m still amused by how many people who own phones equipped with Siri, Google Now or Cortana are blown away by over hearing me say “OK Google remind me to pay my tolls when I get home.”

As I’ve already mentioned I was a fan of this watch long before seeing specs or trying it on.  From it’s concept to minimalist round design it had me hook line and sinker from the get go.  The true test would be whether it would be gathering dust in a junk drawer or still on my wrist by the end of the year.   

As with any first generation new piece of tech it took a couple of updates to have the Moto 360 really running smoothly with all day battery.  With that in mind below are my top Pro’s & Con’s

Moto360_appgif

The Good:

It may be stating the obvious but as a watch it works really well. With lots of great watch faces  to download and customise I’m yet to get bored with checking the time.

It’s performs really well for all things related to time keeping and organisation. As an alarm, as a timer, stopwatch, calendar it works well and is reliable.  I was a little nervous when first relying on a speaker-less, vibrating watch sitting in its charging cradle, to wake me for a red eye flight. Thankfully it’s vibrating alarm is capable of waking me from deep sleep and does so every morning without fail. Whilst sitting on the charging cradle the Moto360 goes into bedside mode becoming a bedside clock. For somebody who used to regularly have to fumble in the dark for a phone or tablet to tell the time this feature is of great benefit.

The timer app is especially useful when cooking, exercising or doing anything where you need   a countdown timer.

It also performs impressively for keeping notes or lists using Google Keep. Every Sunday night without fail I have to refer to my note on my watch to check the bin collection calendar to see whether its a black & green, black and brown or just black bin collection day. As well as that everything from recipes to log in details for various online accounts are handy to have at the flick of the wrist.

Voice commands work well most of the time. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how accurate this watch’s voice recognition is. You don’t need to speak extra slow for it to work. At a natural conversational volume and speed, it gets the message loud and clear. When combined with Google Maps it works even better without fail, which has been really useful to me whilst on foot and when driving.

The Not So Good:

The biggest drawback to the Moto360 (like most other smartwatches) is the fact that it is not yet a standalone device independent of the smartphone.  There are still too many apps that are purely opened on the phone once launched from the watch. It’s great for dictating a text or email but if you want to look back on a conversation you need to reach for whatever phone it’s paired with.

I still haven’t worked out whether I like or dislike the Google Now notification cards that rarely produce any more information than the current weather or occasional traffic update. Info that I want such as football results seem to only randomly appear during match days. More often than not if I want to check a score I have to reach for the phone.

Voice recognition works great in quiet conditions. However in a busy office, bar or anywhere with significant background noise it can struggle with some funny results. If you want to show off your new gadget to friends by dictating a text from your watch then don’t do it in a busy environment. My favourite voice recognition fail was whilst driving with the radio playing in background I wanted to reply to a text by saying “None in Gerry’s going to Tesco for croissants” which was received by my baffled wife (and probably raised alarms on some anti terrorism monitoring services) as  “Bomb in Gerry’s guns in Tesco with croissants”.

The Conclusion:

So after almost a year with a Moto 360 how does it stack up? Well if you are looking for a device that is going to enrich all aspects of your daily life then you better wait a few more years and see how the technology evolves.   It is only missing one or two key features that would make nearly as useful as a smartphone.  Being able to pay for purchases with services like Android pay would be a massive addition. With that being said my Moto 360 is still on my wrist almost every day. It’s still being used regularly to set reminders, check mails and texts at a glance and even it stores my loyalty cards using Stocard app.  For those looking for a nice looking and reasonably useful gadget then the time is right to invest in a smartwatch.  Best to find a freshly waxed car before attempting the Michael Knight slide whilst talking to kit in pursuit of bad guys. The bruises take a while to heal. 

5 Favourite Watchfaces

  1. Planets
  2. Matrix
  3. Street Art
  4. Moon Watch Face
  5. Moto Digital 

5 Favourite Wear Apps

  1. Coffee
  2. Keep
  3. Stocard
  4. Duo Lingo
  5. Wear Internet Browser
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Shane Cowley (Beyond The Hoverboard)

"Yes I love technology, but not as much as you you see, but still I love technology, always and forever," - Kip Dynamite.

I do indeed love technology and all things futuristic, not quite enough to sing about it at my wedding, but enough to start a blog.

My own particular area of expertise is with imaging technology a.k.a cameras of all shapes and sizes. Since 2011 I've been getting my kicks (and also paying the bills) from doing my bit within the marketing team at Canon.

As a devoted Life Hacker, I enjoy most, when new tech genuinely makes life easier and removes even the slightest of stress from every day tasks.

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