Saturday, November 22, 2014

Motorola Moto360 review

About two weeks ago I got my Motorola Moto360, finally.

To get hands on one of this has been a pain here in Germany, really. When I finally got mine it's already been available in the US since about two months and even now they are not easy available everywhere.

What I got

I was very excited when I set on my desk, holding that round box in my hands.
Included of course, there was the Moto360, the charger with a USB charging cable (right, no data caple, but a fixed charging cable of a good length, with the right German power plug) and a manual/quick-starter guide.

Moto360 with charging dock/rest

As you can see, I ordered the silver version with the light grey leather band. Usually the pure steel looking devices fit better to normal outfits, last longer without disturbing scratches (in my experience at least) and just better fit my taste than all pure black.
The metal band version has not been available to order when I did and still is not available at the German Motorola page. Otherwise I might have gone for a metal band version instead.


I am not going to repeat all specs, you can read them up at Motorola's page.
Just the most important for me:
  • OS: Android Wear (off course)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Water resistant IP67
  • Qi charging
  • ...
Yes, I don't care so much about "this is an old processor" complains as long as it does it's job right, which it is.

Build quality

The quality is great, it feels very premium all around.
The housing itself is made of stainless steel, the back is made of some transparent plastic, that holds the heart rate sensor behind it (in the middle). The only button feels very responsive and has a good pressure point (for the rare cases you might use/need it).
The glass feels good, sticks out a little bit over the housing but with a rounded edge, feels very good to touch on even when swiping from the border.

Moto360 after two weeks of wearing

Of course you see some signs of wearing and using it at the leather band but that's fine. The band itself feels great as well, It's very smooth, relatively thick, not to hard and not to weak.

On the other side it's a leather band so from my experience with leather bands on my other watches, after a while they will start to smell as they take up some sweat. It might go even faster when you wear it as a fitness tracker while your workout, as it has a heart rate sensor, but I guess we will have to see. Time will tell.

As often mentioned, there is a black bar at the bottom so the display is not completely round as the light sensor and control for the display are located there. Well, most of the time I don't even see this part anymore.
The trade off would have been a much thicker border like with the LG Watch R. In my opinion (and that's just my opinion) the Moto360 wins in style and look over the LG without a doubt, so I happily accept this trade off.

Size compared with my Swatch

When I saw the first reviews and pictures of the Moto360 I was worried about it's size as it seemed to be a bit too tall for my liking. As I got it now and have seen it in direct comparison with my Swatch I can tell, it is a little bit larger and a little bit thicker, but it doesn't feel like.

Moto360 next to Swatch

The size is not as bad as I was in fear of, in reverse it's perfect for me. It really fits on to my wrist, is not to large but also large enough to see everything well enough. Also it is a LOT lighter than my Swatch, often I don't even realize I am wearing it.

Moto360 at my wrist


One of the greatest features is the ability to switch the watch face as you wish. Motorola is offering a very nice selection of watch faces already that got increased with the last update of their Connect app that is used to control settings and other stuff at the watch.
Also this app allows to customize the watch faces to some degree. At least the background color or picture can be changed at all provided faces.

Motorola Connect

Additionally you can install third party apps that allow to load lots of other watch faces or even create your own.
I just want to name two of them but there are more out there.


Very strong in building your own faces with layers.



More preset configuration boxes but you have to pay for them.

My current favorite is Pascual, the winner of the Moto360 Design Face-Off. I like at this one especially the calendar rings, that show you at what time you have events in your calender for the current day.

Pascual, showing my calendar events in that two rings (one for am, one for pm).

The face I like second most is a light one, that I like because of the drawn style.

Chronograph watch face, found at WatchMaker

As you can see, with light watch faces the black bar sticks out a bit more but I have seen that after a few hours you don't see the bar anymore, even at light colored faces.

Watch faces can be changed simply by tap and hold on the current one. A watch face selection will be shown, just slide to the one you want and tap it again.

Selecting a watch face


One of the main feature of Android Wear is to send notifications to your wrist of course. I have set it up in a way that my smartphone will be muted when connected to the watch and get notifications only at the watch by a little vibration at my wrist.

Basically every notification sent to the notification bar (top bar) at your smartphone will be shown at your smartwatch. But further on most of the cards shown in Google now are also shown at the watch.

Expanded (once swiped up) weather notification

Swiping to the left to get more information.

The notifications then are shown at the bottom of the watch, where you can cycle through them by swiping up (or down) or show more details by swiping to the left. Swiping right at the first page of a notification will dismiss it, which is also synced to the phone. Means if you have dealt with a notification at either device, it will be gone at the other one too ;-)

Voice commands

Another very strong feature at an Android Wear device is the use of voice commands. Basically this are the Google now voice commands.
You can activate them by just the "OK Google" voice command or by taping at the the watch face once.

Google now voice input

If you don't input something or if you swipe up, a list with some example commands will be shown.

Google voice commands

Some examples for voice commands I actually use (and I am getting used to use them more often now):

  • Making calls "OK Google, call my wife"
  • When I am about to leave work to get home "How long does it take me to get home". Google will answer me by my usual commute route and also takes the current traffic in consideration so I know immediately if I should choose a different route this time because of a traffic jam or something else.
  • When I make my tea (black tea) I use my watch to measure the time "OK Google, timer for 2 minutes, 30 seconds".
  • When I am about to get ready in the morning "OK Google, weather forecast" and "OK Google, show me my agenda".

One thing I miss with the voice commands is that it does not speak back. When I ask this things at my smartphone I will get a voice feedback. At the watch it would be nice if it had a speaker for that or if the connected smartphone would answer (directly or by a connected headset). But that could be fixed with software updates ...
Another thing would be if it could accept voice commands in more than one language, like Google Now can by now. We will see what future updates will provide.

Apps and controls

Some apps also support Android Wear with useful information or even functions.

Workout apps like Endomondo show information at the watch while they are active and give additional features like start/stop/pause.

Google Maps shows navigation directions at the smartwatch and remind you to an upcoming turn by a short vibration at your wrist.

When using music or podcast apps like Google Play Music or BeyondPod show the currently played content along with some controls (play/pause, skip forward/backward, volume up/down).

Pause / play at the first screen for playing my podcasts

Skip forward/backward and volume up/down at the second screen

And there are a lot more apps that show information or controls at the smartwatch.

Battery duration

Many reviewer where complaining about the pore battery duration of the Moto360, which worried me as well to be honest.
After I have got mine and by the time now, there have been some updates to Android Wear as well, I don't have any issues with the battery duration.

Of course, the watch needs to be charged every night.
But honestly, I don't have an issue with that as long as it lasts through a day without any trouble (my smartphone needs to be charged at night as well...).

Usually I pick it up at 6 o'clock in the morning and put it back on the charger at 10 to 11 at night, which means about 17 hours of usage with lots of messages, some voice commands and even some navigation (yes, I use voice commands and navigation as well). Normally the battery is at something between 22 to 30 percentage when I put it back on the charger means I could easy get a few more hours out of it when the day might be a bit longer.

To check your battery stat, simply swipe down from the top border of the watch.

Battery status

Even at the first days when I was showing off the watch to everyone who wanted to see I had no issue with the battery to last for the full day.


For charging you simply drop the watch on the Qi charger that comes along with it but also every other Qi charger can do that job.
When the watch is on the charger the watch face will change to some kind of desk- or nightstand mode, showing the time and charging level in low light colors. After a few seconds the display turns off completely so it does not disturb at night when charging next to the bed.

Moto360 at the Motorola charger that comes along with it

That is one of the coolest features of the Moto360, it does NOT NEED a specific charger. Any Qi charger will be fine and for now, it is the only Android Wear smartwatch that uses Qi charging standard. This was a huge point for me to get a watch that I can also charge at my smartphone charger (I usually charge my Nexus 5 on a Qi charger as well) and don't have to worry about a propriety charger or plate or dock or what ever.

Moto360 at my Qi charger I use for my Nexus 5

In this case, the leather band has an advantage over the metal band as it opens completely, makes it easier to place the watch on a different Qi charger then the provided one.


When wearing the watch at your wrist, there are three ways to see the time or notifications as by default, the watch turns off the screen after a few seconds to save battery.
This is clearly a trade off, on the other hand I don't need the watch to show the time or notifications when I am not looking at it.

Weak the display to see the time, then it goes for sleeping again automatically

To see the time or notifications, simply rise your wrist as if you where looking at a normal watch and it will turn on automatically.
Here is one of my very few points of criticism at this device, it could react a bit faster as sometimes you glare at a black screen for a moment (just a blink) before the screen turns on. It's not too slow but it's noticeable.

Then there is the option to press the button or to tap the screen to weak it up.

After a few seconds it will turn off again by itself or you can cover the watch with your hand and it will turn off the screen as well.

Another very useful function comes along with Android 5.0 (Lollipop). The smartwatch can be used as trusted Bluetooth device for the Smart Lock function.
This means once they are paired and the watch is set up for Smart Lock in the security settings of the phone, the phone will be unlocked when it is connected with the smartwatch. When the connection is lost (for example you left the phone at your desk for charging but you went off for a meeting), the smartphone will be locked again (with what ever locking mechanism you have set up, pattern, pin, ...).


Now the big question of many critics: Do you need a smartwatch? What do you need it for?

So do you need it? NO
Is it useful? YES

Of course, there is no absolute need for a smartwatch at all at the moment. 
On the other side it is very nice toy, has very useful functions is basically the first generation of a new kind of technology that we will see lots more in the near future, the wearables.

This wearables try to be smart, enhance our life without even sticking out to much into focus.


For me, I was really excited when Android Wear and this smartwatches where announced or rumored at the beginning of 2014.
I am very happy to have a Motorola Moto360 now, to test it, to use it, to enjoy it. Of course, there is no NEED for a smartwatch as all this information can be shown at the smartphone as well.
On the other hand, it's very nice to see the the message at your wrist, so you can decide if it needs immediate response or not, without having to pull out the phone of your pocket.

Also I like to use the voice commands more and more.
For example I tend to use it for phone calls. I usually wear a Bluetooth headphone anyway while traveling. Now I can easily see (with picture) who is calling me or make calls my self by voice commands like "OK Google, call my wife" ...

Controlling the playback of my podcasts which I listen to while my daily commute is very nice as well, even if this is more or less just a remote control feature.

So far I really like the Moto360 and don't want to miss it.

I am glad to be able to explore this new area of technology while it is evolving and to see what it is capable of or how it will enhance our life's in the near future.