New Moto 360 Wishlist – What Does Wear’s Flagship Need?
The Moto 360 is without a doubt one of the best looking smartwatches around, and it shows in its sales: when it first debut in the U.S., fervent demand had it get sold out nation-wide within hours. I know this as on release day I headed to a Best Buy – just five minutes after they had opened, they were sold out of units and an employee told me that there were none in stock anywhere else. And because it was met with consumer acclaim, we saw developers transition away from squares, giving us a plethora of circular watchfaces and optimized apps to wear.
Despite the limited supply throughout Q4, Motorola rightfully claimed the title of top vendor of Wear smartwatches for 2014, and the release of the Moto 360 was a much-needed boost in sales and popularity for the platform, which saw over 720,000 units sold by the end of the year. To this day, it remains one of the best looking smartwatches despite the recent competition in the round-screen space by LG and their LG G Watch R. New watches are in the horizon, such as the Huawei Watch and the Watch Urbane, and they look great, yet what people are really excited for is a Moto 360 successor.
But while the Moto 360 was a great device, it suffered greatly on many points that reviewers were swift to criticize. Initially, the battery life offered by the Moto 360 was behind other Wear smartwatches by a landslide. Performance was also extremely choppy on the watch, and those two issues together are usually enough to drive someone away from a smartphone. On a watch designed to give you quick access to your notifications throughout the day, those two things are much worse
During my friday editorial adventure, where I saw just how bad the Apple Watch is, I nabbed a Moto 360 with a massive discount. For the past few days, I’ve been using this watch to its fullest and more so than I have been using my Gear Live. I dug to find the good, the bad and the ugly of it, and in light of the recent leaks the successor had going lately, we think it’s time to hear about your wishes for the new Moto 360.
So, what do you want to see in the New Moto 360, and what do you think needs fixing? Here are some of our thoughts:
There’s many things to love about the Moto 360, but I’d say that the number one thing that should be kept is the design language. The Moto 360 is unlike any other smartwatch, because it doesn’t mimic traditional watches in the same way the G Watch R, the Watch Urbane and the Huawei Watch do. The design of the Moto 360 is minimal – it grabs the essential abstraction of a timepiece, and settles for that. The result is a classy yet progressive design with little bezels and that looks good with just about anything.
The Moto 360 successor should aim to keep this, as if it makes the watch a breath of fresh air in lieu of all the manufacturers trying to replicate “luxury” designs. The roundness of the watch looks good when emphasized by having no strap holders sticking out. In the case of the Moto 360, this does hurt its customization (due to the smaller and enclosed openings), as do the middle-gap that bands require in order to be compatible. That being said, the Moto 360 successor was shown to have an emphasis on customization on a recent leak. This wouldn’t be out of the question for Motorola, considering that their Moto Maker online shop is all about that – even on smartwatches. Hopefully we get the option between a minimally round watch or one with extending strap holders. And more customization – especially on watches – is never a bad thing.
The main problems that the Moto 360 suffers from are related to the internal hardware. Motorola had opted for a TI OMAP 3 processor, rather than the Snapdragon solution in other watches, and the choice caused major confusion for it now had an old processor seemingly incapable of handling the tasks of Android Wear. Not only this, but the processor is not as battery-optimized as the ones found in other Wear devices, and both of these showed in daily usage:
While the Moto 360 had software updates that addressed and mitigated these complaints, I still see frequent framedrops when navigating through the Wear UI on the 360, while my Gear Live runs smooth at almost any given time. The battery in the 360 is also a step back from the Gear Live, although not by an unbearable margin – it still gets me through the day, even with heavy use. But my Gear Live only sees charges ever two days or more. The smaller battery in the 360 could also be bumped up.
The successor simply must address these two issues to deliver a better experience, particularly the battery bit. While the 360 charges with an increasingly common QI wireless charging standard (and it also has a nightstand clock incentive to do so), going a night without finding a charging spot would be severely detrimental for the next day. I manage to get over 24 hours in between charges on my 360, and sometimes more, but even then it doesn’t hold a candle to the best of Wear. So a slightly bigger battery and/or a significantly more efficient processor would help this issue, and the latter alternative would slightly enhance the UX as well.
The only real complaint critics had with the Moto 360’s design is the black “flat tire” bar at the bottom. While this was placed there to hold the display drivers as well as the ambient light sensor, it was ultimately put in place to have slim bezels all around the watch. This design sacrifice is one that can often be forgotten by users who get used to it (for me it only took a day or two), but we would all have loved a perfectly circular display.
The display itself is not the best, either: the pixel density is not as high as it could be, the contrast does not hold a candle to an AMOLED screen, and the colors are not very vibrant. The pixelation is not noticeable when viewing it at a typical distance, but you don’t have to move too close to see it. And while the elevation of the glass adds a touch of class to the watch, the edges display a Moiré effect that is very noticeable against white backgrounds.
So ultimately, what we’d need for a better smartwatch experience is a crisper display that is fully circular. Luckily, early reports suggest that the Moto 360 successor will have a 360×360 resolution. This would give the next Moto watch a higher resolution and ppi than what’s found on the perfectly crisp Gear Live, and it also suggests that Motorola would opt for a more efficient chip in order to sustain the pixels and save battery as well. More importantly, a square resolution would mean that the display would have to render a perfect circle, with no black bar (which made the resolution of the Moto 360 320×290 instead of 320×320).
The Moto 360 mostly nailed the design, and while the specifications did make it suffer on some UX aspects, it is still considered one of the best Android Wear smartwatches. The successor would only have to address these issues to make it amazing, but in a world where technology – especially wearable technology – keeps advancing at such a fast pace, it wouldn’t hurt them to include some extras as well.
The meat of the wearable boom will come with biometric sensors, and while the Moto 360 does a good job with its periodic heart-rate scanner, it could benefit from extra additions. This is a stretch, though, and it is likely that this second generation will stick with the traditional fitness/health approach of a pedometer and heart-rate sensor. What would definitely help the Moto 360 in the fitness aspect is a built-in GPS, as it is now supported by Android Wear and not many of us (especially phablet users) want to take our phone with us when jogging. That being said, I opt for my Gear Live when exercising because the leather band in the Moto 360 is not durable enough to sustain it – with the emphasis on customization, we might see sport bands for the job.
Ultimately, Motorola simply needs to iterate upon the Moto 360 and fix the downsides as well as bring up the hardware up to speed with the competition. Now that Android Wear supports GPS and that it will also support Wi-Fi, Wear software is expanding to make better use of possible hardware, and if Motorola wants the 360 line to remain the insignia of Android Wear, they must provide us with the best in every regard. At the same time, we hope to see more innovation from Motorola, and we want to be surprised with unexpected features that actually make a difference – they are good at this on their phones, so it’s not a stretch. With competition getting tougher than nails in this space, we can expect amazing developments throughout this year and the next, and I’ve got a feeling that it’ll be an amazing year for Wear owners.