Wearable devices are coming. Whether consumers want them – embrace or ignore, or even purchase them – is still up for debate. The initial entries of Android Wear, for example, did not catch my eye. Fairly large and not very sleek comes to mind when considering these devices (G Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear).
Eventually I caught wind of the Moto 360. And I liked the look – I was impressed. The round screen surprised me. Once a video surfaced, detailing the interface (honestly, my first look into Android Wear) – sure, I recognized the cards from Google Now, but it was very obvious that the interface for Android Wear was not incredibly powerful. But the physical looks of that Moto 360 – wow:
But what’s the utility, exactly? I’ve got a couple use cases so far, but I think a blend of activities all at once is where the watch (and wearable tech more generally) shines.
I un-boxed my new watch, charged it to full (so that it would perform an update – Motorola take note…) and installed some apps (RunKeeper, a few nifty watch faces, etc), and got ready to test this bad boy out.
My plan was simple: I was going for a bike ride anyways. I normally track my data with Fitbit (so I can tell you my most active day in the last three years, because… well, why not?) so I was excited to test out another activity tracker. Enter RunKeeper.
So a bike ride. I was headed somewhere I’ve never been before. Hop on the bike, plug my headphones into my phone and stick it in my back pack. Pull my wrist up to my eye line – the screen comes on:
“Okay Google” – “Play Daft Punk” ;
-The music plays.
“Okay Google” – “Navigate to [Address three towns over]”;
-I select the correct location from three options, select my transit method of bicycle
“Okay Google” – “Start a bike ride”;
–RunKeeper responds and starts my exercise.
(Spoiler — RunKeeper kept me apprised of my progress over headphones -pace, distance, etc. But why didn’t it make use of the Moto 360’s HR sensor? Disappointing!)
Dealing with Google Now and “Okay Google” is very good. It only had one hiccup with connectivity, probably no cellular service on my handset at that point.
As I rode through the city, I had no trouble following the directions. Each turn, the watch lit up and highlighted the correct turn at the same time that it spoke the directions. If I managed to forget my turn, it recalculated on time. Any time that I needed my turn reminded to me, I could simply pull the watch up and it would display the correct information.
I received a couple texts while riding. One swipe to the left and a tap and the Moto 360 was listening for my response to the text. So long as I didn’t tap cancel when looking at the preview of my message, it sent in about a second and a half. Really nice user experience. I had a bit of stage fright dictating my messages, but when riding a bike rather than walking in an office, you have no serious issues speaking out a quick message.
The person I was headed to meet gave me a call while I was biking too. We had to fine tune our meeting point:
The Moto 360 gave me a nice buzz when the call came through, and it just took one swipe to answer the call. Android handled pausing and restarting my music just fine (even though my pace suffered a bit while I spoke on the phone!) I must say, the handling of pausing and restarting, modulating the volume, etc, on Android has improved hand over fist since my Nexus One ages ago.
Eventually I reached my destination about 13km and 35 minutes of riding. I told the watch to stop my exercise session. Then I had to open up my phone to see the final stats readout (even though it had spoken it out to me over headphones). This was when I noticed the lack of a heart rate stat within RunKeeper. Hope that’s fixed ASAP!
I started off my bike ride at 97% battery. By the time I got to my destination, 35-45 min later, I was at 78%. Granted, I was using turn-by-turn and barking out commands while in ‘new gadget mode’.
Overall, I was very impressed with the experience. I distinctly recall saying to myself, “This is very useful when you’re doing a couple of activities at once that the watch can help improve!” I think there’s work to be done, sure. Let’s hope battery life gets a bit better via software updates. Google Fit integration is going to be very important for the Moto 360 I think as well. On that note… where exactly do my steps get stored? How do I see them? How can I sync that data with my Fitbit account’s three years of data? (That last one is a bigge!) And what about flights of stairs being tracked by the Moto 360? Come on, show my Fitbit the door in exchange for a watch, the heart rate sensor is already a step up!
Stay tuned for another post dealing with the Moto 360 compared to my Fitbit, as well as battery life in the office!