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Thursday, 20 March 2014 11:12

Motorola announces Moto 360 just in time Featured

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Motorola has announced the Moto 360 watch, which is basically everything the Pebble isn't - sexy, round, and, well, watch-like.

The company, which was recently purchased by Lenovo, this morning hosted a live Hangout with Jim Wicks, the lead designer of the Moto 360 Android Wear-based smartwatch and also the lead designer of Motorola's extremely popular Razr phone range.

The conversation was described only as a "sneak peek" and while hardware specifications weren't delved into, the conversation still covered what initially inspired the product, which is described simply as "time", and Wicks said the sundial and circular clocks inspired the watch's design. Wicks said 85% of watches sold have a round face,

“We’re going to map the tech to the consumers, not the other way around,” he said. “We’re not going to try to make consumers change for this tech.”

Wicks also said the design team wanted to created a device that used high quality and comfortable materials to make it more approachable, so they went with stainless steel and genuine leather bands as opposed to the cheaper materials used in the first generation Pebble smartwatch, for example.

The watch will be powered by Android Wear, Google's newly announced wearable tech platform.

"Moto 360 keeps you on time and up to date without taking you out of the moment or distracting you, telling you what you need to know before you know you need it through subtle alerts and notifications," the company said in a blog post.

"With just a twist of the wrist you can see who’s emailing or calling, what time your next meeting is or a friend’s latest social post.

"Moto 360 also responds to your voice. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions like who won the Stanford vs. New Mexico game or what time your flight leaves, or to get stuff done like scheduling an appointment, sending a text, setting an alarm or taking a note."

The bands are also interchangeable, and Wicks suggested different versions would come later to make the Moto 360 more compatible with smaller wrists. He said they’d be easy for users to change on their own after purchase.

Wicks didn't say much in way of hardware specifics but did mention the watch is somewhat water-resistant, and that there’s no external ports for charging or data access. Instead, the watch has an alternate charging method, which is probably some form of kinetic charging.

Battery life was touched on briefly but Wicks refused to say how long it’ll last, but he did say the Motorola design team he worked with learnt a lot from the MotoACTV in terms of energy management, and that those lessons in fact informed the Moto X before this, too, and its ability to intelligently display smart notifications while retaining long battery life.

The watch also won't have a camera, unlike Samsung's unpopular Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and seems more designed to give simple information like maps directions or text alerts, rather than being a jack of all trades.

Pricing for the unit wasn’t revealed but the company did say it attends to roll the watch out globally in "due time", after its summer US launch.

The Moto 360 will work with “all Motorola Android smartphones,” and with any Android device running Android 4.3 or later.

The Hangout is still available to watch in full, below.

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