At the end of January was lucky to get my hands on a Moto 360 smartwatch. Though I’ve never considered myself a watch-person, I do enjoy tech, so naturally I’ve been wearing it since then. As Apple is about to launch their foray into the watch form factor, I thought I’d jot down some of my thoughts on how their competition is doing so far.
Android Wear is the umbrella term for the software that runs on the Moto 360 and other Android watches by Asus and LG. The 360 features a lovely round display and unless you know what to look for, you’ll mistake it for a traditional watch when you see it on someones wrist. The battery is conveniently all day and the screen decently readable outside. It’s also off most of the time but turns on with a wrist-flick. It’s an excellent first version, and that is a tremendously important milestone to pass.
I’m rarely a first-adopter of potentially sea-change inducing technology, but with this watch, I feel like I am. Give it a year or two, and the convenience level of these devices will have gone from that of a soft-close toilet seat to full on dishwasher. You’ll want one. But probably not today.
Android Wear does a few things well. It checks your heart rate, counts your steps, shows you all your phone notifications and lets you act on them. It’s a remote control for the media you play, and it’s feels pretty magical to play/pause a movie cast from Plex on your phone to the television through the Chromecast. Oh, and it lets you set timers, read your agenda, create reminders, and show you basic Google search results. Yes, there are flight notifications. It doesn’t yet speak danish, so all watch replies to my wife are currently transcribed from an adopted southern California accent. We have fun.
What gets me excited about the form factor is the potential that’s hidden here. All of the quantified self health stuff is all but inevitable, and that’s cool, but another way in which smartwatches can be transformative is in letting you get rid of your smartphone. XKCD speaks about the brief period in which our wrists were free, but failed to mention that this glorious period happens to coincide with a time when everyone’s looking at their smartphones instead. I don’t quite know if the smartwatch will make us talk again, but I hope so. As a sidebar, please dear Facebook, don’t put Instagram on the smartwatch.