2 days ago

PSA: You may have issues using a Fitbit with your Marshmallow phone right now

Marshmallow Fitbit Bug

Now that Google is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Nexus devices, we are starting to see different applications get updated to be compatible with the new version of the mobile operating system. This also means that things tend to break from time to time. Fitbit looks to be one of these broken applications.

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3 days ago

This is why Android Pay is asking you for a 'Google Payments PIN' when making purchases


The 'Google Payments PIN' is annoying to use, but it won't be around for long.

When Android Pay finally arrived to replace the withering-on-the-vine Google Wallet, everyone rushed to get their cards into the app. Those who had a "supported" card from a bank that was in partnership with Google for the launch had a solid experience — tap your phone, and you paid. Anyone who added an unsupported card faced a new hurdle, having to both use a secure lock screen and enter a "Google Payments PIN" code at the time of payment. One extra tap and interaction with the screen, making Android Pay surprisingly less useful.

That's confusing, and Google's (lack of) explanation on the topic isn't helping the situation. We're going to explain what's going on here, why you're being asked to use a PIN code for payments and ultimately what you can do to avoid that.

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3 days ago

LCARS Watch Face for Android Wear brings Starfleet to your Smartwatch


One of the best features available to us in technology today is the constantly evolving ability to personalize, and that's never more true than it is during the month of October. Whether you're considering joining up with Starfleet for a Halloween party, or you just like to wave your geek flag you should definitely check out the LCARS Android Wear Watch Face. Inspired by the LCARS system on Star Trek this Android Wear watch face is simple and fantastic.

We've got all the details for you here.

The LCARS Android Wear Watch Face is a simple but awesome selection for any Star Trek fan. At the top of the screen you'll see the Stardate, which can be replaced with the actual date in the options. The middle of the screen is dominated by the time in a 24 hour format, and below it there is a battery indicator icon along with the day of the week. There are two options for the face as well with both a circular, and a square aesthetic.

Since it's available now for the great price of free, there's no risk in giving it a shot.

There aren't a ton of options when it comes to this Watch face, but there are a few. The easiest way to adjust the look of the LCARS watch face is to open it up on your phone. It's a list of 7 options that control what information is displayed. You can choose between a 12 and 24 hour format, 4 different ways to display the date, and indicators for battery life or steps taken each day.

You can also choose between the layouts here, but it's worth noting that the circular face doesn't always work well with square smartwatches. You can change some of these options from the watch by tapping on the watch face, but it's not a particularly easy process. We recommend adjusting your settings from your phone.

The LCARS Android Wear Watch Face on The Google Play Store is a fantastic watch for anyone who is fond of Star Trek. With features like multiple faces, the Stardate, and indicators for battery life it is a great watch face to try. Since it's available now for the great price of free, there's no risk in giving it a shot. Enjoy it whether you've been a fan for years, or you just need it to complete your Starfleet costume.

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3 days ago

Moto X Pure Edition: A second opinion

Moto X Pure Edition

Despite two massive changes in ownership, Motorola's core offering remains powerful and unique.

It's been a rough couple of years for Motorola. Through several significant changes in ownership and a whole lot of shuffling around happening at the lower levels of management, the company has maintained a line of phones that sit just shy of amazing in their overall execution. The original Moto X was a nearly flawless execution of software and form factor with a "good enough" battery and a less than great camera. Its successor blew open the doors of customization and increased the size, but a failure to deliver on a fingerprint sensor and another mediocre camera left a great phone feeling somewhat lacking.

The Moto X Pure Edition is the third attempt to pull together all of Motorola's fantastic software ideas into a hardware package that is both compelling and functional, only instead of gunning for the top spot on the charts the company is aiming squarely at the budget market. Phil reviewed it, and I've been exploring the phone right alongside him. As a huge fan of the last two offerings who had moved on to lesser experiences with amazing cameras and outstanding craftsmanship, Motorola needed to be more than cheaper to hold my attention for particularly long.

It's been nearly three weeks, and even though I'm surrounded by all of the fantastic phones we've seen so far this year the Moto X Pure Edition is still the phone I reach for.

About this review

I (Russell Holly) have been using the Moto X Pure Edition from Moto Maker, provided by Motorola, for just about three weeks. This Moto X Pure Edition has been used on Verizon Wireless, almost entirely on LTE in Glen Burnie, Maryland. It's running Android 5.1.1 (LPH23.116-18) out of the box, and is the 32GB mid-price model retailing for $449.

Moto X Pure Edition

Moto X Pure Edition hardware

Let's start this section off with a declaration. From this point forward, I am going to stop writing or saying "this phone is too damn big" when discussing my personal feelings on a phone. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. For starters, I said the exact same thing about the Moto X 2014 when it first crossed my desk after having used the original Moto X for so long. It's the same thing I say about every phone in this category, and truth be told just about every phone I touch is roughly the same size as the Moto X Pure edition nowadays.

Physically, this phone isn't all that different from the G4, the Note 5, and even the Nexus 6. Calling these phones "too damn big" is lazy, and doesn't appropriately explain what it is about the design that makes the phone more or less comfortable to hold and use. So I'm done with it, starting now.

I think the ergonomics of the Moto X Pure edition are a little on the awkward side for anyone looking to use the phone with one hand. Like the Moto X 2014, it feels like the Moto X Pure Edition is a blown-up version of the original Moto X. This phone is thinner at the edges than it is in the middle by a significant margin, which worked for the last two Moto X models. It even worked for the Nexus 6, which is noticeably larger than the Moto X Pure Edition. What seems to be causing a problem for me in this generation is insufficient tapering at the edges. The Moto X Pure Edition is noticeably thicker at the edges when compared to the Moto X 2014, and that makes doing things like reaching across the screen often result in accidental presses from your palm on the other side of the screen. If you're using the phone with two hands most of the time you probably wouldn't ever notice this, but if you're used to using a single hand to get things done you probably won't appreciate the ergonomics here.

This ends up being the tale with a lot of the Moto X Pure Edition experience. Not the absolute best, but still really good.

Instead of opting for leather or wood on the back of this Moto X Pure Edition, I went with the textured black coating. The added texture gives just the right amount of grip and feels nice when you run your fingers across it, but can be a but of a fingerprint magnet. The metal strip on the back of the phone brings back the subtle dimple with the Motorola M we lost in the last version thanks to what was almost a fingerprint sensor, and like its predecessor the dimple is perfectly placed for resting your finger. It's also great as a stabilizing point when taking a photo, which is more necessary now than it has been in the past thanks to the increase in thickness.

There's something about the metal trim surrounding this version of the Moto X Pure Edition that feels different from the previous year, making the trip feel a little more slippery than the last version. It's coated so the color more closely matches the all black exterior, and when you combine that with the added plastic on the side to hold the front glass panel in place there's noticeably less grip to the outer edge of this phone. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but probably something worth keeping in mind when choosing your build on Moto Maker. Unfortunately, Motorola automatically chooses the color of this metal trim based on the color of your front casing, so if you want that shiny, grippy edge to your phone you'll probably have to go with a white front.

The front-facing speakers on this phone are great. Not the best, not quite BoomSound, but very good speakers for a smartphone. It completes the phone as a media consumption machine, especially if you are propping the phone up in a parked car or in your cubicle to catch a quick YouTube video or something. I'm also a fan of the audio quality you get from the headphone jack. Again, not quite the best, but significantly better than a lot of the phones we see in the sub $400 category.

It's easy to knee-jerk whenever someone says LCD, especially if you're used to really nice AMOLED displays, but the display on the Moto X Pure edition is exceptional. It blows away the display on the Nexus 6, and with exception to total brightness competes directly with Samsung's panels. Since nothing else comes even close to competing with the brightness of Samsung's display, the one place you'll find this screen struggle is direct sunlight. It's not a complete washout like you see with so many LCD screens, but it's clearly not as good as Samsung.

This ends up being the tale with a lot of the Moto X Pure Edition experience. Not the absolute best, but still really good. Better than you'd expect for its price point in every category, which is significant. It's not something Motorola has been great at in the past when it comes to their top tier phone, and it's nice to see the focus on overall quality has paid off.

Moto X Pure Edition

Moto X Pure Edition software

There's something incredible about what Motorola has accomplished with their software. When you move from a One M7 to an M8, or from a Galaxy S5 to an S6, or even from a G3 to a G4, there's a whole new visual language waiting for you. HTC, Samsung, and LG spend a ton of time making their visual language unique, and yet with every iteration of their phones users have to re-learn how to use their phone by adjusting to icons and features that weren't there before. In many cases it's a good thing, since none of these companies are particularly good at visual identities that last more than a generation or two. Someone moving from the Moto X 2014 to the Moto X Pure Edition is getting a nearly identical visual experience, with a nearly identical feature set, and that has everything to do with the way Motorola approaches software.

The feature set you have on the Moto X 2014 right now isn't the same as what you had on the day you bought it, and that's because Motorola has constantly been improving and adjusting. Adding features to Moto Voice, adding Moto Gestures, removing things no one is using, and almost all of it is done without system updates. Motorola's core features are all updated through Google Play, so updates are casual and just sort of happen. There's no need to hold on to features for some big unveil with the next version of the hardware, because new features can be constantly pushed to the phone over its lifetime and the users can constantly appreciate the way their phone improves over time.

The best part of this experience is the way Motorola's software lives on top of a mostly Nexus-style flavor of Android. Google's launcher, Google's keyboard, Google's visuals for settings, and Motorola's features baked right in. Things like Attentive Display, where the phone stays awake as long as the front facing camera can see your eyes, looks like it is a part of Android even though it's something Motorola has been working on and finally has working really well. If you want Google's features instead of Motorola's features, like those folks who prefer Ambient Display over Moto Display, it's yours with a button press.

This will always be the advantage Motorola holds over everyone who isn't Google, and while we keep saying things like "hopefully more manufacturers will follow" it's fairly clear at this point that won't happen on this scale. It requires a specific internal culture to make something like this happen, and hopefully Motorola's new owners respect that culture and this fantastic way of updating software continues for years.

Moto X Pure Edition with case

Moto X Pure Edition battery life and internals

My day starts at right around 5 in the morning, and I'm not usually back to the charger by my bed again until 10 in the evening. While I am surrounded by outlets and cables and batteries all day, it's important to me that a phone be able to last my full day without needing power unless I'm doing something like driving for an hour with navigation on or I've been sucked in to a couple hours of Vainglory or Ski Safari 2. 17 hours off the charger under my usage is a lot to ask of any phone, and not all of them can deliver. We see a lot of talk about how fast charging or wireless charging exist to fill in the gaps, and for me that's not good enough. I love leaning on quick charge when I need to, and wireless charging is neat, but these shouldn't be every day shortcuts.

The Moto X Pure Edition's 3000 mAh battery hovers right around 10 percent remaining by the time I am ready to head to bed, and the included turbocharger can get me another 45 percent battery after about 10 minutes plugged in. It gets the job done, which is more than I could ever say for the Galaxy S6 edge I was using before switching to this phone for review.

Battery life and performance are unlikely to ever be an issue for folks who want to pick this phone up.

During those 17 hours the phone is off the charger, the Moto X Pure Edition performs almost flawlessly. The Snapdragon 808 processor and 3GB of RAM included for this build is more than enough for day to day tasks, but occasionally the phone seemed to take longer than it should have to perform some of the Moto-made actions. The double-twist to launch the camera, for example, occasionally took longer to go from vibrating to confirm the command was received to actually giving me a camera to use. The same could be said for Moto Voice, which would occasionally take a second or two to launch after the personalized voice command — in my case it's "Computer, Respond" — was spoken. These delays were far from the norm, but noticeable when they happened.

Battery life and performance are unlikely to ever be an issue for folks who want to pick this phone up. It works well, and it works for quite a while. Motorola did good here, and with Android 6.0 on the way it's likely that battery will continue to improve over time.

Moto X Pure Edition

Moto X Pure Edition camera

After two Moto X launches promising spectacular and unique camera experiences, Motorola finally has a camera worth talking about in their top of the line phone. The camera on the Moto X Pure edition delivers great pictures over and over again in decent lighting, but in low light it tends to struggle a bit. Compared to the Moto X phones of old, this camera is almost perfect. The photos speak for themselves, especially when compared to the S6, G4, and OnePlus 2.

Now let's talk about this app of yours, Motorola. The Moto Camera app has been pitched over and over again as this super simple interface that gets out of the way so the user can take the best pictures quickly and intuitively. I've never really agreed with any of that. The navigation ring on the left of the interface was clever when the whole phone fit in one hand and you could take decent pictures without using your other hand for stabilization, but now it's time to make some changes. Being out of the way so I can see more of what I'm capturing is great, but being able to quickly do things like switch to 4K video or enable the flash is even better. At the absolute least, put an actual tap to focus mode in the app so I'm not constantly misfiring and filling my Gallery with photos I don't care about.

Motorola stepped up in a big way here, and it's about damn time too. With a third-party camera app installed, taking pictures on this phone is finally a decent experience. It's not the best, but certainly one of the better smartphone cameras out there.

Moto X Pure Edition

Moto X Pure Edition the bottom line (for me)

A popular comment I see when criticizing phones that are lacking in one area or another is how great that phone is "for the price" and generally speaking I think that's crap. A great phone "for the price" is something inexpensive that performs above expectation. It's something that is great and inexpensive, not something that could be great but a couple of sacrifices made it just OK.

The Moto X Pure Edition is a great phone, and it's also an inexpensive phone. It's a great phone for the price, by which I mean it competes with the top of the line in every single category and is somehow several hundred dollars less than those top of the line phones. It's not the best phone on the market, but it's easily the best phone starting at $400. It's also the most customizeable phone you can buy today, and because there's no carrier variant of the phone there's no need to worry about what the future of this phone looks like when it comes to software updates.

For the forseeable future, I'm a Moto X user once again. This time, however, I don't feel like I'm sacrificing anything to get the experience I want. It's a solid, big phone, and it's something anyone looking for a new phone right now should seriously consider spending money on.

From $399 at Amazon From $399 at Motorola

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3 days ago

Will my phone get updated to Marshmallow? Our list of confirmations, guesses and wild speculation


When a new version of Android is released, talk immediately shifts to when (and if) it will be released for individual models of phones and tablets. Since Google doesn't distribute Android the way other companies — like Apple or Microsoft or BlackBerry do — and instead provides the code to build it, a lot depends on the folks who made your phone and how much time and money they want to spend on updating it. Which in turn leads to questions and anxiety about getting the latest version.

Google provides updates and new versions for all of their own devices less than 18 months old, but they can't force other companies to follow suit. Most of the big-name manufacturers do provide support for recently-built models, though. In the end, however, it's always one big waiting game for most of us.

While some companies have already talked about which models will be updated to Android Marshmallow, there is still a bit of soothsaying and prophecy involved in any online article talking about which models will — and which models won't — be updated. This one is no different. Read on for all the specifics and speculations!

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3 days ago

Lollipop is now on 23.5 percent of active Android devices


Google has again released an update on the distribution numbers for each version of Android, with Lollipop rising by another 2.5 percent. The new numbers show that Lollipop is now installed on 23.5 percent of active Android devices, up from 21 percent last month. KitKat is down a little again, from 39.2 percent to 38.9 percent, and Jelly Bean is now at 30.2 percent, down from 31.8 percent.

As for the rest, Ice Cream Sandwich is sitting at 3.4 percent, a small drop from the previous 3.7, and Gingerbread is at 3.8 percent, a small drop from 4.1. Finally, Froyo remains the same at 0.2 percent. It's great to see the adoption of Lollipop continue to grow, and it will be interesting to see where Marshmallow ranks in the coming months.

Source: Google

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3 days ago

In-app translation to roll out for Marshmallow users this week


Beginning this week, users with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the Google Translate app on their phones will be able to easily translate text into their native language right inside some of their favorite apps. In-app text translation supports both app content and text that users type.

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3 days ago

The spec off: Nexus 6P vs Galaxy Note 5 vs LG G4 vs Moto X Style vs iPhone 6s Plus vs Lumia 950 XL


The Nexus 6P is Google's newest, highest-end smartphone. And if nothing else it's priced up there in the realms of some of the other flagship class phones from some of the other big manufacturers.

While we won't know how the Nexus 6P fares against any of them until we get the chance to spend some real world time with them, we can at least look at some of the specs. How well does it stack up against the competition from Samsung, Motorola, LG and yes, even the Apple iPhone 6s Plus. Let's break it down.

Updated Oct. 6 with the Lumia 950 XL.

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3 days ago

US Cellular lowers prices on its Shared Connect data plans


US Cellular has announced new, lower pricing for its Shared Connect plans. Prices have been lowered across the board, offering data buckets of 1, 3, 6, 10, 12, 15, and 20GB.

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3 days ago

Verizon voices support for Samsung Pay, will arrive on compatible devices via software update soon


After a waiting period that lasted the entire beta program and into the public release, Verizon has announced it's ready to support Samsung Pay. Though we don't have a final word on when phones will get the necessary software update to bring Samsung Pay, if you have a Verizon Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ or Note 5 you can know that at some point you'll have proper Samsung Pay support now.

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3 days ago

Facebook improves News Feed to work better on lower speed data connections


Facebook has developed an open-sourced Network Connection Class that will allow the company to determine the speed of the data connection you have when connecting to your News Feed. Based upon the speeds that are returned, Facebook has made some optimizations to how content is delivered, in order to offer a better experience.

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3 days ago

Catch up on what's trending with the new Moments tab on Twitter


Twitter is adding a new feature for its Android users today in the U.S. called Moments. The idea behind it is to help users find tweets centered on a specific subject or event and collect them in a tab.

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3 days ago

Review: Moto 360 2015

Moto 360 2015

Motorola's sophomore effort in the Android Wear space is a solid refinement of the original, solidifying its position as one of the more function-focused manufacturers out there today.

Much in the same way we struggle to call one Android phone the best year after year, Android Wear watches have reached a point where we're seeing manufacturers choose their audience and focus specifically on those users instead of aiming for the best. As the first mostly round Android Wear watch, the original Moto 360 did a great job capturing the world's attention and encouraging the competition to step up their game.

Now that we're deep into the second generation of Android Wear watches, Motorola has surveyed the field and made some decisions regarding the direction they want the Motorola watch brand to go. Rather than focus on form and worrying about being the most watch-like smartwatch out there like we're seeing with so many other Android Wear watches, Motorola seems to be focusing on features and functionality.

Here's our review.

About this review

Motorola provided Android Central with the Moto 360 2015 that I (Russell Holly) have been using for eight days. During this time, the Moto 360 2015 was paired to a Moto X Pure Edition and an iPhone 6S Plus. This 46mm Moto 360 was customized on Moto Maker to include the gold casing and black micro knurl bezel, which is currently $399 on Moto Maker. Android Central was also provided a standard $349 silver body model for comparison. This watch included a black Horween Leather strap, and is running Android Wear 1.3 build LLA44S.

Moto 360 2015

comfortably familiar

Moto 360 2015 hardware

If you've ever seen an original Moto 360 before, it won't be hard to spot a Moto 360 2015. Motorola has taken their round casing with the display glass passing just above the bezel and basically added lugs to the top and bottom. The single button on the watch has moved from the 3 o'clock position to the 2 o'clock position, but otherwise there's not a whole lot of visual changes. While the addition of lugs makes the total body of the watch take up more space on your wrist, the ability to use whatever strap you want without worrying about damaging the casing or the strap is a much bigger deal. In doing this, Motorola created more space inside the watch body as well, which is important for a whole mess of other reasons.

This 46mm model we're using for this review is a big watch, but due to the curvature of the sides and the angle of the bezels somehow manages to feel smaller on the wrist than the Huawei Watch. It sits nicely on the wrist, even if you have a medium-sized wrist, and despite being plastic and glass on the bottom it feels like a decent piece of hardware. This still isn't going to look great on small wrists, but Motorola claims the smaller 42mm version of this watch helps address that. Once we get our hands on one, we'll know for sure. It doesn't feel like a high quality watch, but that's got more to do with the tiny computer inside than anything else.

Looking at the watch after powering it on, you'll notice Motorola has kept their Display Shelf. The LCD display on this watch looks nice and round right until it isn't, something many users refer to as the "flat tire" look on this watch. Like its predecessor, the Moto 360 has an ambient light sensor in that black wedge. No other round Android Wear watch has an ambient light sensor, making the Moto 360 line the only round Android Wear watches that will adjust brightness automatically. Unlike the previous Moto 360, the brightness shift on this new model works really well. It shifts quickly when it needs to, and saves you from being blinded when you raise your wrist to eye level in the dark.

You read that first part right, by the way. In an ocean of AMOLED displays for tiny wrist computers, Motorola went LCD for this new watch. It's easy to dismiss an LCD screen in our ultra high resolution phones, but since none of the Android Wear watches out there today have figured out how to compete with the sun without draining the teensy little batteries under those tiny screens, LCD offers a distinct advantage over AMOLED displays in direct sunlight. Where the AMOLED display in the Huawei Watch got crushed by direct sunlight in always-on mode, the Moto 360 2015 is still sort of visible. It's still not a great experience, but notably better than AMOLED in this situations. The tradeoff here is the maximum brightness isn't anywhere near what you usually see with AMOLED, and the always-on display isn't quite as nice as you'll find elsewhere, so you'll rely on this always-on trick a little more often than you would need to with another watch.

The included Horween Leather strap feels similar to the strap included with the original Moto 360, which isn't necessarily a good thing. The top and bottom of the strap feel like nice leather at first, but wearing it on your wrist for a few hours on a hot day quickly turn the experience into something itchy and uncomfortable. It's also not particularly attractive, since this strap is multiple pieces of leather that have been pressed together instead of some of the better stitched straps we've found included elsewhere. You can always change the strap, something Motorola has made more convenient than ever with their quick release pins on the included strap, but the experience is still less than spectacular. There's a good chance you'll want to shop for a nicer strap before too long.

All told, the Moto 360 2015 feels like a healthy upgrade from the original.

As "crown" buttons go, the one you find on the side of the Moto 360 2015 is just sort of there. On top of not adding anything to the already too short list of things you can do with buttons on Android Wear, the physical button is rigid and feels very mechanical. There's also a great big Motorola M covering the whole button, just in case anyone stops you and asks what watch you're wearing and you forget. It gets the job done like it's predecessor though, and you never have to wonder about whether you actually pressed the button.

All told, the Moto 360 2015 feels like a healthy upgrade from the original. It feels nicer on the wrist, looks nicer on the wrist — especially with Moto Maker options — and generally speaking is of superior construction when compared to the original. It stands out in a crowd, and while it's not the perfect circle many have come to appreciate it gets the job done and doesn't appear to compromise in the process.

Moto 360 2015

flexible faces

Moto 360 2015 software

Software is the great equalizer with Android Wear watches, since Google controls the keys to the kingdom and it's up to the manufacturers to figure out little ways to make the experience unique. What you see on one watch is, with few exceptions, what you see on all watches. For the moment, that means everything is running Android Wear 1.3. Where Motorola has separated themselves is by getting the jump on interactive watchfaces, a clever charging UI, and a handful of Moto-made apps.

Moto 360 2015

Not that it should be surprising, given that a Snapdragon 400 processor and 512mb of RAM is what you find in almost all Android Wear watches right now, but the overall user experience on the Moto 360 2105 is great. The UI handles well, with no noticeable lags or jumps in the interface. Compared to this generation of Android Wear watches it's basically the same experience you'll see everywhere, but compared to the original Moto 360 this watch flies. More than anything, this new watch highlights how poorly its predecessor has handled the software updates that brought us to this point.

Moto 360 2015

While most of the watchfaces included in this new Moto 360 have been carried over from the original, many of which have gained customizeable components since their original launch on the first Moto 360, Motorola released this watch with two interactive faces called Dials and Dials II. These faces include three bubbles that can be filled in by a variety of information points on your watch, including heartrate, battery, pedometer, calendar, and a handful of others. Motorola has also partnered with a number of Android Wear app developers to give them the tools to include their information in these spots, and more are expected to be rolling out over the next couple of months. For the most part, however, it's similar to what you see with a lot of third-party interactive watchfaces, which is great.

Motorola's health monitoring tools, which used to be separate apps for heartrate, step counting, and general fitness, have all been rolled into Moto Body. This new UI includes a quick glance at any fitness tracking you're interested in, but the main event is getting you to install the Moto Body app on your phone so all of this information can be tracked over time. If you're using Android Wear for fitness tracking, it's a solid option that covers all your bases. If this isn't your thing, it's easy enough to ignore.

Moto 360 2015

It's a fairly trivial thing overall, but the charging interface is still something worth appreciating about the Moto 360 2015. Because the charger included with this watch sets it up like a bedside clock, the charging screen is perfect for glancing up at night to see what time it is, or glancing across the room to see how charged your watch is before picking it up. This design was one of the best things about the original Moto 360, and with its slightly altered design to support the lugs and "crown" placement it's one of the better parts of the off-the-wrist experience in this new version.

Motorola's software extras are subtle, well built, and thoroughly enjoyable. They take the Android Wear experience and enhance it without getting in the way, and while it's hard to credit Motorola with all of that given Google's grasp on the Wear ecosystem, it's a nice overall experience all the same.

Moto 360 2015

overdelivering like whoa

Moto 360 2015 experience

Looking at the outside and fiddling around with the software on a smartwatch only gives you part of the overall experience. These watches need to be explored for days, and in the process you pick up a little bit of the story left behind by the creators. The Moto 360 2015 doesn't come in particularly fancy packaging, and it's not positioned to act like a nice watch on your wrist. It's a small watch-shaped computer on your wrist, and Motorola makes few attempts to convince you otherwise. From the moment it leaves the charger, the Moto 360 2015 is clearly focused on being comfortable enough to wear but not necessarily something for the person used to wearing a nice watch on their wrist every day.

For my wrist, the curve of the lugs on this watch and the curve of the base complete a comfortable feel in most situations. If my wrist is bent all the way back, the casing gets in the way and it quickly becomes uncomfortable, which is expected with a watch this size. It took several days for the included Horween Leather strap to not itch the under side of my wrist, but somewhere around Day 5 the strap finally felt broken in. It's not not a particularly comfortable strap, and it still looks like two pieces of leather scrap were glued and pressed to create something else, but it has gotten better over the last week and that's not something most people can say about the strap Horween offered with the original Moto 360.

Moto 360 2015

The existence of auto-brightness on this watch meant I never once had to bother with brightness controls. Sitting in a theater, playing outside with my kids, driving at different points of the day, the Moto 360 2015 was already good to go when I glanced down at it. Given how frequently I find myself mucking around in the brightness settings or using the triple crown tap to activate max brightness for a moment on other Android Wear watches, it's a little surprising auto-brightness isn't a priority for those who want their watches to fee like watches. While it'd be nice for Motorola to figure out how to get this sensor under the display and move on to a fully round version at some point, it's hard to argue with the decision to include it in the mean time.

Another feature Motorola opts for with their displays that gets ignored on smartwatches that want to be real watches when they grow up is having the display slightly above the bezel. This isn't a watch, it's a round touch screen where every pixel is precious. The decision most smartwatch manufacturers have made to put the bezel above the screen, effectively making it so you can't quickly slide your finger from one side of the screen to the other without bumping into bezel, is a little on the crazy side. When your finger can run up the edge of the Moto 360 display unimpeded by bezel, you see more of the important stuff your finger is usually covering up. Motorola's design just plain makes sense, and to make things even better the new Moto Maker options for stylized bezels doesn't get in the way of this experience.

Moto 360 2015

During their initial presentation for this watch, Motorola promised once full day of battery life with the always-on display active, and two full days with the always-on mode disabled. Given the dramatic increase in battery for this generation and the use of an LCD screen — which is hardly what you'd call efficient when it comes to always-on display modes — those stats were a little underwhelming. It turns out, Motorola was being a little generous. Under the same daily workload that would take a Huawei Watch to 20 percent in a single day, the Moto 360 2015 regularly ended the day with 55% battery with the always-on mode enabled. Setting the watch into theater mode overnight, this watch would start the second day with 52% battery remaining. While that's cutting it a little close based on my personal use, it wouldn't be impossible for someone to get two full days out of this watch with the always-on mode enabled.

Motorola delivered in a big way here, and it's impressive to see what 400mAh can get you in Android Wear with the right stuff under the glass.

Disabling the always-on display on the Moto 360 2015 turned a day that normally left me with 55 percent of my battery and extended it to 71 percent of the battery remaining on a day where no GPS navigation was used. It's entirely conceivable that someone could get three full days out of the Moto 360 2015 with notifications hitting the watch roughly every 15 minutes during the day and always-on mode disabled. No other Android Wear watch has been capable of delivering this experience for me yet, which is impressive. Motorola delivered in a big way here, and it's impressive to see what 400mAh can get you in Android Wear with the right stuff under the glass.

It's also important to remember that a couple of minutes on a wireless charger, just about any wireless charger anywhere, will keep your watch going. While a full charge on this watch takes nearly 2 hours, you never have to worry about whether someone has your special charging cable if you left your charger at home and need a spare somewhere.

Moto 360 2015

function over form

Moto 360 2015 The Bottom Line

There's a lot of people very excited about smartwatches right now, and just about all of them have an opinion on what the ideal watch should look like and how it should feel. Ultimately it's all about walking that intersection of materials, technology, and style. Motorola opted to give users the ability to customize a highly functional Android Wear watch with a lot of different options instead of focusing on the most stylish wrist computer you can put on your wrist. There's very little about the overall experience with the Moto 360 2015 I'd consider lacking, and most of that list can be fixed with a better watch strap.

The big question to answer now is whether this experience is worth the $349 starting price tag, which increases little by little as you move up the Moto Maker change list. For the most part, it's easy to answer yes. I found the original Moto 360 lacking at launch, and quickly passed judgement including a strong desire to see Motorola make some of the very changes they made with this version. The only thing holding Motorola back at this point is the included strap, as it's going to run users another $30-$50 to find something mostly enjoyable to complete this experience. A $400 wrist computer is hard to justify, especially when that's the same starting price as Motorola's really great new smartphone. While what we're seeing with this price tag is largely the cost of miniaturizing a premium experience, it's a little hard to justify the price tag when it looks like the strap on this watch will start separating at any minute.

Should you buy it? Probably

I would recommend the Moto 360 2015 to anyone who wants a highly functional Android Wear watch they can customize to look exactly the way the want, and know it's going to last them a while. Google has clearly navigated their partners to this hardware profile, and with software updates largely controlled by Mountain View this is something you will be able to keep and appreciate for a while, which helps justify the price tag.

On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who prefers form to function, you'll find there are other Android Wear options out there that have swapped out some features for a premium look and feel.

Moto Maker

Without a doubt, the best place to pick up a Moto 360 is from Motorola, especially if you want to personalize the look to fit your style. Motorola offers the Moto 360 2015 in three difference shapes and sizes, and each has their own selection of color choices for the body, bezel, and whatever strap you want to include with the purchase.

Purchase the Moto 360 2015 from Motorola

Best Buy

If you want to grab a Moto 360 2015 without customization, but also without a waiting period, Best Buy has you covered. Select stores will have the watch available for purchase alongside a small selection of additional strap options, starting at $299.

Purchase the Moto 360 2015 from Best Buy

Google Store

Like all Android Wear watches, Google has a special place for you to make a purchase directly from them. The Google Store frequently has offers you won't find anywhere else, like gift cards for the Play Store or discounts on other hardware, so be sure to check the prices and sales at the Google Store if you're looking for the best bang for your buck.

Purchase the Moto 360 2015 from the Google Store

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