Google's new MODE bands change the smartwatch game forever

Watch any of the Android Wear commercials, and you'll see the same basic message. Take any smartwatch design you like, and the basic features will be the same. It's a great message, and a fantastic embodiment of the overall Android motto right now. It looks like Google has plans to take that idea one step further with a new watchband tech called MODE, and to help introduce this idea to the world they've partnered up with Hadley Roma to release a collection of impressively designed watchbands.

Here's a quick look at how it all works, and where you can get you hands on these bands.

MODE is an open-source replacement to the traditional method of attaching a watchband to a watch. In the past, you push a spring-loaded pin through the watchband and try to attach the pin to the lugs on your watch. If you were lucky the strap you bought would come with "quick release" pins that gave you a little lever to help make releasing the pin a little easier. MODE allows you to put the pin on the watch first, and use a simple toggle switch to lock the watchband onto the pin. The end result is a watchband that feels just like any other when attached to the watch, but is significantly faster to detach and re-attach at will.

If you're a fan of swapping watchbands based on your activities this couldn't be any easier or faster.

In some ways, MODE feels like an answer to Apple's quick release straps for the Apple Watch. Apple's design works well enough for its one watch design, but MODE will work for just about everything else. The watchbands made by Hadley Roma already support 16mm to 22mm watches, and are launching on the Google Store today in an impressive variety of colors and materials. We've been testing the white silicon band and the black leather band for a couple of days, and couldn't be happier with the quality.

The silicon sport band is a higher quality than any of the sport bands that come with any Android Wear watch currently, and do a fantastic job keeping moisture away from your wrist. It's also go a nice metal clasp, unlike some of the other sport bands we've come across. Meanwhile the leather band from Hadney Roma claims to be genuine Italian leather, and the soft underside of the watchband feels great. The narrow design helps make the Huawei Watch feel a little smaller on my wrist, and is absolutely an improvement over the included leather band from Huawei.

Given the quality of the materials and the use of a new connector, these watchbands are surprisingly affordable. The silicone band we've been testing will run you $50, and the leather option is available for $60. Compared to the $40+ you'll find for replacement bands made by Motorola for the Moto 360, there's a lot to like here. Given Google's decision to open source the attachment tech, there's no doubt we'll see even more options available in the not-so-distant future.

It's a cool new idea, and if you're a fan of swapping watchbands based on your activities this couldn't be any easier or faster. All we need to know now is which manufacturer will start offering these new designs as the default, which is absolutely what should happen next.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter