One of the first watches based on Google’s new Android Wear platform, the Moto 360 has excited consumers around the world, but also left them with many questions. While the watch won’t arrive until later this year and Motorola is being tight-lipped with details, we’ve compiled all the information we have so far about this groundbreaking wrist device. Here’s everything you need to know about the Moto 360.
The Moto 360 will be one of the first smartwatches, along with the LG G Watch, to run on Google’s new Android Wear platform. Android Wear, at least as constructed now, is primarily a notification system. The home screen shows your most recent notification (from any app) and lets you swipe down to view more notifications. You can act on notifications by composing follow-ups via voice command, swiping them away or doing other simple tasks like dismissing a calendar alert.
The current version version of the Android Wear SDK does not allow developers to build native apps, only to configure the notifications on their existing apps. However, Google says that a future version of the API will allow developers to build more on-watch experiences.
Apart from analog models like the Martian Watch and COOKOO, we’ve never seen a smartwatch with a round face before the Moto 360. In an online hangout, Motorola Design Chief Jim Wicks said that 80 to 85 percent of all watches sold worldwide have round faces because the shape is more comfortable and familiar to users.
“When you go back to modern civilization, time was always represented with a circle, whether it was a sundial way back when, the pocket watch 500 years ago or the wrist watch 100 years ago,” Wicks said in a Google Hangout. He said that Motorola made the decision to go with this iconic design so that users would feel more comfortable wearing it on their wrists.
The circular UI is supported in Google’s Android Wear UI at a resolution of 320 x 320 so we may see other vendors come out with circular watches based on the platform. However, Android Wear also supports a 280 x 280 square UI.
Motorola has said that the phone will work not only with Motorola handsets but with any Android phone that has version 4.3 or higher of Google’s mobile OS. In one of Google’s videos for developers, Android Engineer Justin Koh says that Android Wear relies on the Notification Listener API that first became available in Android 4.3 so we bet that all watches based on this platform will have the same requirements.
In a Google Hangout, Wicks said that the Moto 360’s body was made of stainless steel and that it was designed to be water resistant. However, he did not share details about how much water the watch will be able to survive. Competitors like the Samsung Gear 2 and Sony Smartwatch 2 are IP67 rated to survive up to 30 minutes submerged under as much as 1 meter of water.
In Motorola’s Google Hangout about the Moto 360, Barabara Liss, the company’s senior director of social media, confirmed that the watch does not charge via USB or a proprietary connector. She said that the company would not disclose further details about the charging yet, but that it was part of the “special sauce” of the product. Because it has no built-in connector, the Moto 360 is most likely to use some form of wireless charging.
The Moto 360 will come with either a leather or a stainless steel band that will be removable. However, we don’t know if the band is a standard width that would allow users to buy third party bands.
“If you can close your eyes and you can feel the grain and you can feel how authentic it is then we have the right leather,” Motorola’s Leslie Hicks said in a video on the company’s blog.
During his Google Hangout, Wicks said that, on the Moto 360, “You’ll always be able to see the time. You lift up; you’ll be able to see the time.” However, it remains unclear whether the screen will remain lit all the time or just wake up when you hold it to your face.
A number of Android watches, including all of the Samsung Gears, turn off their screens to save power when not in active use but wake when you twist your arm or hit the power button. However, the Sony Smartwatch 2 goes into a grayscale mode and keeps the time visible 24/7.
Though Wicks did not say whether the Moto 360 has an accelerometer, he stated that the screen will flip if you turn the watch upside down. Lefties who wear the watch on their right wrists and want to position the plunger so it faces inward, will appreciate this feature. However, we also have to wonder if the hardware that makes this possible would enable other functionality.
According to Motorola’s original blog post, the Moto 360 will launch in the U.S. in Summer 2014 and will be available globally at some point. We wouldn’t be surprised if the launch was timed to coincide with Google’s I/O developer conference, which starts on June 25th.