Moto 360 Second Gen Review: Moto Make It Your Own

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Software: Android Wear User Experience

Despite being around for a year or so, Android Wear sits at version 1.3. In other words, not a whole lot has changed on the software front. The graphics look nearly identical, and though the underlying architecture is based on Android 5.1.1, Android Wear's voice commands aren't nearly as spectacular as what you'll find on a modern Lollipop smartphone. It also lacks support for Google's custom voice actions. The 'Ok Google' command still allows wearers to have their watch create a reminder/appointment, query a sports score, call a contact, etc., but it won't enable more sophisticated commands to be relayed into smart home accessories, for example.

moto 360 smiley

On the positive side, interacting with Google Now cards is slightly faster and more effortless than before, and watch faces can have shortcuts to certain areas of the OS. (As an example, one face has quick dials to get you into Google Fit, your Agenda, and the Weather.) Hangouts has been massively improved, too, allowing you to respond to messages with a long list of canned replies or to draw your own emoji.

Heart rate sensor

 
moto 360 2015 5298

On paper, the new Moto 360 has a heart rate sensor, but in practice, it's pretty disappointing. As with most of those "green light" sensors, which claim to read your pulse without the need for a chest strap, readings were inconsistent. Put simply, don't buy this if your top priority is fitness. If you're hoping to use it to accurately track heart rate patterns throughout the course of a day (or even throughout an individual workout), Motorola still has some work to do in this area. This is the kind of thing a firmware update could resolve pretty easily though.


Apps and performance


moto 360 face

One thing that Android Wear maturity has brought is a more robust app store. The watch section of the Google Play Store is now stocked with all sorts of programs, from reminders apps to chat apps to fitness apps. Third-party developers have unlocked functionality that didn't exist on day one, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately, even the Snapdragon 400 isn't always capable of keeping up with those apps in a seamless way.

We've yet to encounter a smartwatch that didn't exhibit some amount of lag, and the new Moto 360 is no different. You'll see some loading of screens and general sluggishness when flipping between apps or loading up a new one for the first time. We're being a little hard on it here, but you have to remember that watch users are accustomed to the responsiveness of their phone. So it can be jarring to go from a Moto X to a Moto 360.

Plays with iPhone


moto 360 messenger

Another new trick with Android 1.3 is the ability to use an Android Wear smartwatch with an iPhone. We'll just cut to the chase here: while it's technically possible, you probably shouldn't do it. If you're a loyal iPhone user, buy an Apple Watch. Don't waste your time attempting to use an Android Wear watch with an Apple phone. At least in its current incarnation, most of Android Wear's best features and functionality are only available when paired with an Android phone.

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