The smartwatch is a natural extension of the smartphone in many ways—albeit one that’s not yet remotely capable of duplicating a phone’s full functionality. So it makes sense that Motorola built its forthcoming Moto 360 smartwatch using lessons it learned from its smartphone predecessor, the Moto X smartphone.
Last year, when Motorola introduced the Moto X—its flagship smartphone, built in collaboration with Google—ReadWrite called it “the smartest smartphone around.” Motorola’s X8 chipset and related software let the Moto X figure out its whereabouts without input from the user. Just picking up the smartphone would cause it to flash “active display” notifications such as the time new messages.
It also allowed users to shake the device to bring up the camera app or talk to it (by saying “OK Google Now”) to perform functions from the lock screen. The X8 system has been one of the most clever ways sensor technology has been tied to software of any smartphone on the market in the last several years.
Now, the Moto 360 smartwatch, announced yesterday, runs Android Wear software for wearable devices. It’s round—a first in its category—and will be able to deliver contextually relevant information to users based on their location and apps they are using. In those respects, it will be a little bit like having a Moto X strapped onto your wrist.
How Solving For X Led To A 360
The history here goes back to the MotoActv, a wrist-based fitness tracker from Motorola that didn’t get much traction in a market dominated by the Nike FuelBand and FitBit. But building the MotoActv taught Motorola a great deal about intelligently pairing a fitness device with a smartphone and tracking exercise behavior.
Later, the Moto X was able to do many of the things that the MotoActv could do. This will inform the design processes and functionality of the Moto 360.
Similarly, the technology behind Moto X’s “active display” is influencing power management on the Moto 360. On the Moto X, the active display showed a “breathing” notification—one that faded in and out—on a locked screen that showed time and messages. That display would always be on when the phone was in general use, and the screen would only employ the pixels that were needed to display the message. Result: Users got relevant information without draining the battery.
“The lessons we learned from MotoActv went to the Moto X and then went to the Moto 360,” said Jim Wicks, the head of consumer experience design at Motorola in a Google+ hangout.
Additional Details Of The Moto 360
In the Google+ Hangout, Motorola noted a couple of key items for the Moto 360:
- The company intends to make it globally available, but hasn’t yet decided in which markets.
- The Moto 360 does not yet have a price or ship date.
- Motorola is not yet ready to share internal specifications, specifically on battery life.
- Motorola is keeping how the smartwatch will be charged a secret for now, but it does not have a USB port for wired charging.
- The wrist band will be replaceable and will come in leather.
- Motorola will not add a camera to the device (like the Samsung Gear 2) because it didn’t think it was necessary.
- You will not need to own a Motorola smartphone to use Moto 360; it will work with any Android smartphone running version 4.3 or higher (Android 4.3 Jelly Bean was the first to implement Bluetooth Low Energy standard).
- It will be water resistant.
“We didn’t want the consumer to change,” Wicks said. “We want to map the tech to them … [a smartwatch] has to pass that fashion test to put that on your wrist.”