20 Jan
2016

Sylvain Marcotte

By

It has been just over one year since I decided to take the plunge and get a wearable, a Moto 360 to be exact. When I got this watch, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but I was in serious need of a replacement for my 10 year old watch and the Moto 360 was about the same size as my old watch so I figured I should try it out.

Honeymoon

The honeymoon period was great- I just loved the watch. I was finding that I didn’t have to constantly pull my phone out of my pocket to look at notifications. I could also execute quick commands like sending a text message (I have kids that love to text me when I am driving), replying to emails and answering random trivia questions from my kids, all with ease. The speech recognition is fabulous (although it’s the same as my phone but I never got into using it on my smartphone). On a recent trip, I used it to figure out where we were and what how much time we had left (aka are we there yet?). You quickly discover that “OK Google” is awesome even though you do get a few strange looks when you are seen talking into your wrist in public, but when you’re in your honeymoon phase, you don’t care if you’re seen doing it in public. You just do it! I read lots of complaints about battery life but I pick it up from the charger at 6am everyday and by 11pm, it still had ~ 50% of its charge which is better than what my phone could do.

There weren’t too many apps specifically written with the Moto 360 in mind; however, one of my favorite apps Stocard did a really nice job with it. I can quickly select the barcode for the cards I need (usually Save On Foods, Scene card, or Air Miles) and get the cashier to scan it on the spot which is usually accompanied with a “I’ve never done that before, that’s cool!” Yes, another favourite saying heard during our honeymoon.

Realization

Much like with the 7 Stages of Marriage, it didn’t take long for the passion or honeymoon stage to come to an end. For me, it started with the promise of something better. Google released a new version which promised to allow my watch to connect to my phone over wifi instead of bluetooth. This means that I could leave my phone charging in one room but still get my notifications while watching TV in another room. I was really excited about that at first because the phone I had at the time was starting to have battery issues and required more charging. After that install, life was never the same. The bugs, the bugs, the bugs. Arggh!! Where do I start? Suddenly, “OK Google” had less time for me. It kept giving me the “Unable to Connect” error which is the techie equivalent to “I have a headache”. “But I just want to know how tall the Eiffel tower is right now. Not tomorrow!!” The next issue I got, fortunately only a few times, was that the alarms wouldn’t go off. A few times, I setup the alarm for a certain time and that time came and went and no alarm. I was fortunate enough to wake up on my own but now I am always worried that it won’t work. I don’t really want to rely on some exterior help for a basic function like an alarm clock even if I am reminded everyday with a thousand emails how cheap and easy it is to get. Good morning, good morning is how the song goes I think.   

Rebellion – Don’t Make Me Think!

Speaking of alarms, who was the bright person who decided that when you set an alarm, it needs to be set for right this minute? Before the upgrade, when setting an alarm, the watch would remember whatever the last alarm was set to, and it would be offered as the starting point for the next alarm which for most mortals is what they want to do. Now it only takes a few seconds to adjust the wheel to 6:00am the next day so I guess that’s not the end of the world but annoying nonetheless. Finally, once the alarm is set, it would be nice to know that it is so I don’t have to keep asking. Complications is what those things are called according to Apple.

Another annoyance that I have learned to live with is how to turn off Theatre Mode. Theatre Mode is a mode you can put your watch into so that when you are in a movie and you move your arm, the watch screen doesn’t turn on and annoy your neighbour. Turning it on is easy, turning if off is now strange. You go to the same screen where you turned it off and everything looks the same as before, so you tap the button to turn it back off. But, what really happened is that by going back to that screen in the first place, the watch automatically turned it off so you end up turning it on again and again. I got as much feedback here as the standard: “nothing’s wrong, honey”. It took me about three times to figure that one out so a little feedback here would have been useful.

One of my major annoyances with the UI today (come to think of it, it actually started from day one but I wasn’t really ready to admit it) are those toasts that come halfway up.

Your toast is ready

Your toast is ready

In most cases, when you have a toast, you can tap up on it to reveal the full details of the notification; however, when you are listening to music, tapping on the toast pauses the music. Pulling up on it brings the notification that is underneath. “But all I want to do is turn up the volume”. It is like that elusive G thing, you know it is there and sometimes you stumble on it but don’t ask me how.

Cooperation

There were a lot more bugs that I went through, I don’t know if I just got used to them or because I recently upgraded my phone to a Nexus 5X running Marshmallow, but most bugs seem to have settled down. Well, “OK Google” is sometimes worse and won’t even acknowledge that I exist. Other than that, things are good.

Round Up

Now it has been a year and with a few patches and compromises, I have come to (still) love my Moto 360 for the same reason as I did when I first purchased it. It’s not doing everything that it promised it would do when I first got it, but I still prefer having it as opposed to being single. Probably the biggest advantage is that it just takes a few seconds to filter the many notifications that I get during the day. My phone stays in my pockets and that has helped me reduce my smartphone addiction. Gone are the days of “Oh, I got an email, let’s see who it is from,” take the phone out and look, and then decide to reply to the next one in the list, then why not check facebook while at it … so on. Now I see who it’s from and simply swipe them away much like that barista at Starbucks that keeps flirting with me. Life is good!