Thinking about buying an Apple Watch? Take a look at the Moto 360

Why those in the market for the Apple Watch might be more than satisfied with Motorola's Moto 360 smartwatch

Apple Watch vs. Moto 360 Android wear smartwatch reviews

A smartwatch won't be noticed unless it passes the watch test – it must first look, feel, and act like a real watch while reinforcing the wearer's style and identity. Only after meeting this watch test can smartwatch makers hope that consumers will start loading apps on their wrist. Motorola has done a convincing job designing a smartwatch that passes the watch test while also allowing customers to customize the watch to their preferences.  

In comparison, remember that the Apple Watch is only available in the configurations offered on Apple's website. The only customization option available is a replacement strap that may be purchased at an additional cost.

Motorola offers its Moto Maker, a website where the buyer can tweak the watch's design until they're happy with it. Now that Android Wear devices like the Moto 360 are supported on the iPhone, even iPhone users should take a look at the Moto 360, because it may be a better fit with their style and app preferences.

Google uploaded a first release of Android Wear to iTunes. The Android Wear watch looks especially useful for iPhone users who have a strong affinity for Google's search, email, and apps ecosystem because Google Wear/Now is capable of learning the wearer's preferences.

In a free test of Moto Maker offered by Motorola, I built this strikingly designed Moto 360 pictured below.

090915 moto maker 1 Motorola

While this is just one example, Motorola offers many choices for specifications, including:

  • 3 watch sizes: 38 mm, 42mm, and 46 mm
  • 6 bezel colors and designs
  • 3 case designs
  • 5 bands
  • An infinite number of watch faces

A little math reveals that smartwatch buyers have 270 different configurations from which to choose, without including watch faces. Apple Watch has just 12 choices. The Moto 360 sells for between $299 and $429. The Apple Watch between $349, and up to $12,000 for the 18-karat gold version.

In this specific case, the Moto Maker transforms a 46-mm base model into my version of the black sleek watch with silver accents, using a web based dialog that lets the user select colors, accents, and materials. The site shows real-time changes to the watch's design and allows them to undo individual design decisions.

090915 moto maker 2 Motorola

This base model might have been configured in gold, as depicted below, or in any combination of silver, gold, metal, or leather strap with contrasting or matching accents.

090915 moto maker 3 Motorola

The most noticeable difference between the Moto 360 and the Apple Watch is that the former comes in a very traditional round design. Apple Watch chose a less-traditional square design that has received some criticism, most notably from high-profile designers who sounded off on the Apple Watch in this Bloomberg report.

Looking beyond the two smartwatch exteriors, the biggest difference is that the Moto 360 runs Android Wear while the Apple Watch runs the watchOS. Android Wear is almost a complete set of Android features, so software developers have more options. WatchOS has many similarities to iOS, such as Xcode and Storyboard, but seems like a work in progress, with Apple releasing incremental features, somewhat limiting independent app developers. Both are similar in the use of gestures to control apps, and both incorporate voice. Apple added innovation to wearables with the addition of a watch stem called the Digital Crown for navigation and zooming in and out. Siri and Google Voice speech navigation is also an option. Cnet tests results favored Google Voice in search applications and Siri in productivity apps.

The Apple Watch launcher is more flexible than the stock Android Wear version, though in typical Android style, independent developers and OEMs add their version of a launcher, such as the Wear Mini Launcher, and Samsung, always ready to one-up Apple, has released the Gear 2 smartwatch that uses the round bezel to search for, select, and execute apps.

There are some notable hardware differences. The Apple Watch has better screen resolution and more memory. The Moto 360 much larger batteries and longer battery life. You can compare specs for yourself:

090915 moto maker graph

According to IDC, Apple is the single most popular brand, with 3.6 million Apple Watch shipments. Motorola hasn't reported Moto 360 shipments for comparison. But the Moto 360's style is comparable enough to get iPhone and Android smartphone users to at least give it a look when shopping for a smart wrist-worn device.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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