Moto 360

When the first Android Wear smartwatch was released, the LG G Watch, I hurried and snatched it up. It was roughly square, which seemed odd for a timepiece, but I’d had rectangular watches before, so I didn’t mind. I swapped out the rubber band for a metal one, and began my adventure into wearables.

Motorola wasn’t far behind – and its wearable was round (well, mostly round) like watches are meant to be. I was hesitant to get the Moto 360 due to some technical differences in the display, the processor Motorola decided to put in the watch, and what has become known around the industry as “the flat tire”. Nonetheless, as soon as the Moto 360 became available, I hurried and snatched it up, too. (My son became the proud owner of my G Watch, and wears it religiously.)

Fast forward to today: I’m still wearing my Moto 360, I don’t even notice “the flat tire”, and I’m generally happy with the product. All that having been said, I’m anxiously awaiting the next Moto 360 – but Motorola needs to make some improvements if it expects me to drop another wad of cash on its next wearable.

Better Battery Life

moto-360-batteryDepending on which update you’re running on your Moto 360 – and which version of Android is on the phone it’s paired with – your battery life may range anywhere from 10 to 18 hours. That’s a pretty large variance, but one that I’ve seen first hand (no pun intended) on not one, but two Moto 360s.

Ten hours is simply not acceptable for a watch. I’ve had my Moto 360 power down many, many times with more than a few hours left in the day.

Motorola has got to double the typical “mixed use” life of its next watch. Currently the device includes a 320mAh (or was that 300mAh?) battery. I’m not saying the size of the battery needs to be doubled, but it does need to be increased. The rest of the expected runtime can be address by a more power-friendly SoC, software updates, and tweaks – but all that has to be in addition to a bigger battery.

Kill the Cracking

Cracks on the back of the Moto 360The plastic back of the Moto 360 seems to be prone to cracking around where the band connects. Though this seems to happen more when a third-party watch band is used (in my case the Pebble Steel band), I’ve seen watches that have only used the stock leather band exhibit the same kind of cracking.

Other than grinding off the rounded edges of the backing where the strap connects, the only safe way to use a third-party band and ensure cracking doesn’t occur is by installing an adaptor, like the Steel Connect, pictured here.

We’ve heard that Motorola may be moving the band connectors to the outside of the watch housing, which is a much more traditional design. Doing so would undoubtedly solve the cracking issue.

Softer Transitions

Moto_360_on_wristTo save battery life, Android Wear allows users to have their watch face “fade to black” (black and white, actually). This monochromatic view is fantastic, but can be very jarring, depending on the watch face.

If the watch face is light-colored, it’s initial fade is nice and smooth, but the transition to pure black and white is abrupt and distracting. I know, First World Problems, right?

Whether this is an Android Wear problem or a Moto 360 problem, it’s something that needs to be fixed in the next version.

Ambient Display Improvements

A watch needs to be a watch all the time, not just when you rotate your wrist to deliberately look at the time. After using the G Watch, I’m hooked on ambient display. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glanced at my watch to check the time – without the deliberate gesture of rotating my wrist. That’s the way a timepiece is supposed to work. Without ambient display, the screen is “off” and you can’t “glance” at the time.

Android-Wear Moto 360 Jeez Stephen Name your filesMotorola needs to do better at this, and leave the feature turned on by default (without chewing up inordinate amounts of battery to do so).

The Flat Tire

Believe it or not, I don’t even notice “the flat tire” – the “unused” portion of the otherwise round screen – at the bottom of the Moto 360’s display. This area is used to house various sensors that need to “look around” to be able to work correctly.

Once such sensor is the ambient light sensor which is supposed to adjust the display according to its environment. One would expect that while driving down a dark road at night, your watch face wouldn’t keep lighting up brightly, reflecting off your window. Similarly, “theater mode” (which turns off the display to save moviegoers from throwing popcorn at you every time your watch lights up) should be engaged automatically on devices that have ambient light sensors. Shouldn’t they? Motorola has some work to do to justify keeping “the flat tire” on their next iteration.

Your Turn

As you can see, my list of what Motorola needs to learn for the next Moto 360 is fairly small. Am I off base? Did I miss anything important? What’s on your list of things Motorola has to improve to make the next Moto 360 the leader of the smartwatch pack? Head down to the comments and let us know!

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