Wear OS watches come in multiple shapes and sizes now, but the one that laid the groundwork for Wear OS and took off in a big way was released almost a decade ago. I am talking about the original Moto 360 smartwatch that arrived nine years ago on September 5th, 2014. It was a pioneer in the smartwatch market and set the standard for many of the devices that followed. The Moto 360 was not without its flaws, but it truly set the pace for the development of Android Wear watches and became one of the best-selling smartwatches of all time.
The first of many
One of the first three Android Wear OS watches
The Moto 360 was one of the first three inaugural Android Wear watches that came out in 2014. It debuted a few months after the launch of the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, and it was undoubtedly the best-looking one of the lot. Unlike the other watches at the time that tried to cram tech into traditional-looking watches, the Moto 360 looked like it was designed from the ground up to go well with a growing portfolio of smartphones. I wasn’t even a smartwatch person, but I ended up buying one for myself back in the day, mainly because of how the Moto 360 looked more like a watch than a gadget. I wish I was half the photographer that I am today and took more photos of the Moto 360 back in the day, but here’s a picture of my unit from the Instagram archives.
First Wear OS watch with a round face
The Moto 360 was the first Android Wear touchscreen smartwatch with a round screen. That was its biggest claim to fame, and I think it worked out pretty well for it. It was the 1.56-inch circular display that made it look like an actual timepiece and stand out from the sea of other squared-shaped smartwatches. The Moto 360 was also one of the first smartwatches to use premium materials for construction. The stainless steel housing coupled with a Gorilla Glass added to the overall look and feel. The leather strap that was sourced from Horween Leather Company, a premium tannery, actually made it feel more comfortable to wear than the rubber straps on the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live.
First to sport an ambient light sensor
The Moto 360 was also the first Android Wear watch to sport an ambient light sensor for auto-brightness. It was a welcome feature that was appreciated by many, as the Moto 360 only had a backlit LCD that would dent the battery life if you forgot and left it at the maximum brightness. The watch also had a setting called “ambient screen” to turn the display completely off when the watch was idle or not in use, but the ambient light sensor was more useful, particularly outdoors.
The Moto 360 wasn’t without its flaws, though
While the Moto 360 offered great value for a first-gen product, the overall experience of using it was dampened by some imperfections. No, I am not talking about the “flat tire” at the bottom of the screen because I know I am not alone when I say I love it. But the fact that it was only available in 46mm size didn’t sit well with many, and it was also disregarded for barely lasting a day on a single charge. It wasn’t the most performant smartwatch either, carrying a TI OMAP3630 processor, and the software was also a little rough around the edges and wasn’t properly optimized for circular watch faces at that time. There were a couple of other drawbacks that made the competing products look better in comparison, but it’s safe to say that none of the other watches managed to outclass everything else on the market, leaving a lasting impression like the Moto 360.
I can’t say I am a huge fan of the Moto 360 successors that followed a few years down the line, even though they solved most of the glaring issues that were holding back the original Moto 360. All said, the smartwatch landscape has evolved a lot since the original Moto 360 debuted in 2014, and we have tons of options that build upon the groundwork laid by the original Moto 360 and other older watches. Motorola is no longer competing against the big players in the smartwatch market, and it’ll be interesting to see whether that changes with a new Moto 360 variant for the premium market in the future.