Thursday, December 31, 2015

A quick review of Moto 360 v1.0

Devices and workflow - A mini review of Moto 360

In the early years of my blog, I used to post about my use of my new devices like iPhone (2010), iPad (2011) and web services that I use.

I've now switched over to the android world, current setup is Android Note 4 + Nexus 7 (2013).

A few months back in Oct I got a Moto 360 v1 at a fairly cheap price to try out the Android wear smartwatch.

I did my due diligence, being an older model I was aware the processor was a bit slow, and the battery life wasn't the best. It would still last me 20+ hours with ambient mode off.

I was okay with charging every night, and even the speed, but in the end I found the smartwatch pretty much useless to me except as a time piece (I usually don't wear watches).

The key thing to realise about android wear watches currently is that, it has only very limited functionality and it's main purpose is to display notifications on your watch, so you can see them without looking at your phone.

Any android app that has no particular android wear support will basically just show notifications on your watch.

If you swipe it, you will just get an option to open it in your phone.

Even apps with official android wear support and sit in your watch but managed via the android wear app sitting on your phone, often isn't very useful. The main issue is that the watch is too small for a keyboard (there are some apps that include a keyboard like a browser android wear app but it's unusable mostly), so if you get say and email or a text via Gmail or Hangouts, there is limited functionality.

Typically you can either choose a canned reply or use voice input.

So if you a big user of Google Now, and of giving commands by voice, the android wear smartphones are made for you. \

If on the other hand you are like me and find it's odd to give commands via voice (of if you find your voice tends to throw off the voice to text recognition software), you will find Google android wear watches lose much of its point.

To be fair, there are some nice things about having a smart watch.

If you are a exercise fan, android wear would be useful with Google Fit, but with Moto it's confusing because you get the various Moto apps.

I've been using Wear Mini Launcher to make the watchface somewhat Apple watch like, a swipe in of the clockface from the right and I see my favourite apps.

As you can see I do Foursquare check-ins with it

This can be useful if you want to check-in quickly before returning to a conversation with a friend. A drawback of doing it this way compared to using your phone is that often the choices listed to check-in do not include where you are. If that happens you have no choice but to use your phone.

Useful is also the ability to quickly check Google Keep or your Calender without opening your phone.

It is also no surprise to realise that the more you are in Google's ecosystem the more you benefit from using android wear watches. So if you are like me and use Google reminders, Google Keep, Google calender etc (especially now that google reminders from keep, inbox, google now etc are all unified and displayed in Google calender) , Google now notifications can be amazing.

Other useful features are like using your watch as a torchlight and calling for rides or using maps.

When I first got my smart watch as per my normal fashion I download and played with many geeky and gimmicky features (e.g controlling camera shots using the moto360, playing bubble shooter on the watch) but in the end they were just gimmicks.

The funny thing is, the best thing I like about the Moto360 is the most mundane thing ever, that is the watch face!

I knew I wanted a round smartwatch and while Moto 360 gets complaints about the ugly "flat tire" at the bottom of the screen (see below), I barely notice it.

In exchange the moto360 gets a light ambient sensor so it's brightness varies based on amount of light. I've found it more than adequate even outdoors in sunlight.

My main complaint about moto360 watch face is that to save power, it will turn itself off after a few seconds. There's a ambient mode, but in v1 not only is it power hungry , it doesn't keep the watch face "always on". You typically in both modes will have to flick your wrist for the screen to turn on, and there's a slight delay that can be irritating if all you want is to look at the time.

New generation of watches like LG Urban I think solve this issue and the watchface can generally be turned on all the time, with reasonable battery life (recharge once a night).

When I first got the watch, I found vibrations were strong and obvious, these days I barely notice them. It's unclear if this is a software or hardware issue but it seems common.

I really have no other complaints about the physical quality of the moto 360 , I have zero experience with watches but to my eyes it looks pretty elegent and the best thing is if you are bored with the clockface, you can switch it easily via the watch or via an app on your phone.

There's a growing community around hobbyist producing and sharing free watch faces, so you will never be bored with the same old clockface! Some can be classic watchfaces others can be dynamic. I personally favour classic ones.

Overall though, if you want to get into android smartwatches it pays to temper your expectations.

While some of the flaws of the moto 360 are down to inferior hardware that the new generation of watches like Moto 360 v2 , Huawei watch or LG Urbane solve, currently android wear OS itself is limited in functionality. For example currently even if your smart watch has a speaker it cannot be used but this is changing.

If you are getting one, do not expect a replacement for your phone, or for the phone to make a major change to your difestyle and you will be fine.

In the long term, I expect smart watches will start to catch on perhaps in 2016 or 2017, but somehow I can't shake the feeling even if it does, it will be just a temporary stage between more generic "wear" software embedded in clothing etc.


This has been a year of change for me, as I moved to a new institution in late Feb 2015 and I spent most of the year trying to learn and adapt to the new environment.

This probably deserves a post of its own (maybe in Feb 2016 when I complete a year of service), but the experience has been very interesting and not without its challenges as it has been a strange blend of "Seen it, done it" and the opposite "this is almost a 360 degree mirror image of what I am used to" feelings.

I always had a bit of a impostor syndrome and starting anew at a new institution obviously worsened it. But with time this has lessened as I start to get a grip on the situation.

I am focusing now on library analytics, a relatively new unexplored area and I am looking at early explorers like Libwebrarian with great interest and trying to sort out my thinking in this area.

As a result my blogging output as suffered somewhat though I still try to maintain one post a month , while maintaining quality. I anticipate the blogging rate should remain the same or even rise in 2016.

In this day and age, interest in blogs has waned and not many librarian blogs are still operating. As such for those of you who still subscribe to my blog whether via email or RSS, thank you for following me on my journey in librarianship.

Have a happy new year and I will see you in 2016!

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