Since December, the Motorola Moto 360 has been mentioned by this blog three times. If you are wondering, there’s a perfectly good reason why this has happened. Firstly, the Moto 360 started off as a really good smartwatch – good, clean, minimalist design, and round, like an actual watch. Secondly, unlike the other smartwatches and related wearables reviewed in this column, the Moto 360 runs Android Wear, so its functionality is not hampered by cross-platform interoperability issues. Thirdly, the latest version of Android Wear (5.1.1) has made a heap of improvements that hint that instead of planned obsolescence, Motorola planned on keeping the Moto 360 around for a while. However, it now has competition from every other designer making smart watches that look like normal ones, from Armani to Hugo Boss Orange watches, which could prove a problem.
Arguably, the best new feature to surface thanks to the latest edition of the Android Wear OS is WiFi connectivity. This means that once connected to a trusted network, the Moto 360 can run independently of a smartphone without losing functionality. This makes it so the Moto 360 will still get notifications and be able to process voice search inquiries even if the watch is beyond the Bluetooth range of the phone to which it is connected.
Quick Access to Apps and Contacts
File this one under “gripe resolved.” A double-tap or left swipe is all that is now required to access all of your smartwatch apps. Call a Lyft car? No problem. You are just one swipe and two taps away from making it happen. The same goes for the new flashlight feature that is super handy for, let’s say, finding things on the bedside table in the middle of the night. Lastly, two left swipes will bring up the list of the most commonly used contacts. This makes sending a text or email as easy as speaking, Dick Tracy-style into your Moto 360.
Scroll with Gestures
Things just got a bit more hands-free. Now, in addition to dealing with the various cards that pop up on the watch by swiping right, cards can now be scrolled away with a quick roll of the wrist. This simple addition turns the simple operation of dispensing with cards even more simple.
This mode does exactly what its name implies. Always-on can be very handy when using apps for step-by-step map directions, real-time step tracking, or for keeping that to-do list handy without having to gesture or tap the watch. Luckily, my life hasn’t become so difficult that I’ve found much need for this feature, but I can see how it could be helpful.
Though this update does cover much more territory, the features mentioned above are feasibly the most popular and useful. With the exception of the Always-on Mode, which I’m determined to find a use for, these new features have proven to be a nice evolution in the operating system of the Moto 360. It started off good and full of promise, and it is turning out to be great with many of its promises coming to fruition.