Gadgets

Hands-on with Motorola’s elegant Moto 360 smartwatch

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

Motorola isn’t quite done with the final design of its Moto 360 smartwatch, but the firm says it wanted to be present at the official coming out of Google Wear here at yesterday and today’s Google I/O in San Francisco. Funny thing is, many people are more interested in the smartwatches than they are in the OS that runs them.

I spoke with Motorola’s product marketing manager for the 360, Cathay Bi, who showed me what she could in the new wearable. The Moto 360 will soon be finished and ready to ship later this summer, Motorola says, and will come in black or silver metal.

The first thing you notice about the 360 is its round shape and spacious display. It’s a fine showcase for Android Wear, so I’m sure Google’s glad Motorola decided to show up at I/O.

Moto 360 messaging

Above: Moto 360’s messaging.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

Bi was in the meetings where Motorola decided on the round shape of its smartwatch, which contrasts sharply with other new Android Wear-based devices from Samsung and LG, which are rectangular.

Motorola believes people want to wear a device on their wrist that looks like a real watch, Bi says. And most people think of watches as being round. “If you ask a little kid to draw a watch, he’ll almost certainly draw a round shape,” Bi says.

This seems to have been a good decision, because most of the people I’ve talked to here prefer the Moto 360 design over that of Samsung’s Gear Live and LG’s G Watch. Time will tell if consumers outside this building agree.

Moto 360 right side

Above: Moto 360’s right side.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

I’ve seen quite a lot of interest in what’s on the back of the smartwatches on display here. This is where the answers to questions about biosensing capabilities and battery charging are answered. But Motorola says it isn’t ready to talk about those things yet, presumably because it is now finalizing the details.

So the back of the watch Bi showed me was a blank. Another 360 watch here had the sensors on the back, but a Motorola exec was guarding it closely and would not show the back of the watch to anyone.

Given the level of secrecy, I believe that Moto is going to put some things back there that current smartwatches don’t have. This could mean a new and better way of charging the battery, or a series of biometrics sensors instead of just one, as on the new Samsung and LG smartwatches.

Moto 365 back

Above: Moto 360’s back.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

That battery-charging question in a big one. Battery life is the single biggest limiting factor in wearables innovation today.

Bi explains that there’s a great desire to put lots of sensors into smartwatches to collect all kinds of biometrics data. But the more kinds of data the device collects, Bi explains, the more processing power it needs to synthesize it all. Again you run into the problem of needing a bigger and bigger battery.

Motorola decided to get the size and shape of the watch right, then put in what components it could, constrained by the space needed for the battery, Bi says.

Bi assures me that the 360 will go well more than a day on one charge. Still, the watch does have some thickness to it (as you can see in the image below) to account for the size of the battery.

Moto 360 left side

Above: Moto 360’s left side.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

A large-ish button on the side of the 360 wakes up the watch from low-power mode.

Moto 360 right side

Above: Moto 360’s right side.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

The 360 comes with a soft leather band that felt comfortable around my wrist.

Moto 360 wrist

Above: Moto 360 looks more like an actual watch on your wrist.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

I found that the display on the front of the 360 displayed the information “cards” that Android Wear OS uses in a clear and pleasing way.

Moto 360 flight

Above: Moto 360’s flight info.

Image Credit: Mark Sullivan/VentureBeat

Motorola will be sending VentureBeat a 360 of our own in a few weeks. We’ll have a full review then.

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11 comments
Richard Ortega
Richard Ortega

All I can think is that watch hand on the Motorola are graphics. Definitely not a timepiece.

Jason Elmore
Jason Elmore

i wish Android Wear OS did not leave that black bar at the bottom of circular watches. Hopefully the blank black bar will be gone from shipping devices. 


Also, i would have liked to see some nice bands. Metal bands or more importantly, the ability to use any regular watch band with it.


The Million Dollar Question is, will it work with any Android L Smartphone? or does it require a Motorola smartphone. The former would sell 100X the units 

MrFester *
MrFester *

I am concerned that they were too tight lipped about a flagship product that is "supposedly" coming out this summer.  What we really  know about the watch.  It's a Android wear device that is round.  That's it.  


That being said I am still holding off on buying the other two, until I see  the FREAKING specs on this thing!!  

Bill Mitchell
Bill Mitchell

I guess it will soon be a crime to run into a crowded theater and shout, "Ok Google!".


You know how annoying those construction workers are in restaurants that have full throated two-way conversations on their Nokia walkie-talkie phones?  Imagine a restaurant FULL of people arguing with their spouses on their watches or hearing every intimate detail of a sext being sent?


Get ready, these are the hidden downside of smartwatches no one is talking about.

Carlos Rincon Eckardt
Carlos Rincon Eckardt

If this is the "next big thing"... what a truly boring tech scene we have today!...

Eddie Lee
Eddie Lee

it does at least look nice Jon Song

Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey

@Jason Elmore Have you even read about this device at all? All of your questions have been answered countless times.


Black bar is there bc it was the only place they could put the display drivers for the screen. If they hadn't put the black bar at the bottom, there would be a huge bezel around the watch. (yuck)


They have shown pictures of leather and metals bands since the very first time the device was shown.


Android wear as a whole will work with any android phone 4.3 (jellybean) or higher.

Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey

@MrFester * specs shouldn't matter much. This watch is complimentary to your phone. It doesn't have to do a lot of processing. The hardware is apparently finalized. I think it's just the software that is getting finished now.