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Tag: android wear (page 2 of 2)

The Moto 360 and RunKeeper – Cycling Addendum

I won’t bore you with reiterating my initial impressions of the Moto 360 as a fitness device, but I learned enough new things during a bike ride this morning that I thought it was worth sharing in a second post.

  1. Battery drain was about the same the second day, so it’s pretty consistent in that regard.
  2. I really wish there was a way to set the 360 so that pressing the physical button would wake the watch to whatever app you were using, rather than to the watch face, as I think a huge amount of battery life could be saved that way.  Considering I already have to tap the screen to make the RunKeeper UI readable in bright light anyway, this wouldn’t be any more trouble. I can, of course, still manually sleep/wake the device – and may try that on my next run to geta better feel for battery life when used that way – but then it requires more swipes to get back into the RunKeeper UI.
  3. The Moto 360 has outdone my FitBit in an important way – it surprisingly managed to count steps while bike riding, something I’ve only ever convinced my FitBit to do when it’s clipped to the very bottom of my bike shorts, near my knee.  I’ve never used a wrist-worn FitBit, but I’ve heard those aren’t very good at tracking bike rides, either.  I’ve been looking forever for a fitness device that would properly track my rides, and I may have finally found it.  Here’s an example of how they compared, with my FitBit worn as-described above:2014-09-11 08.31.17
  4. It seems as though the 360 once again passively recorded my heart rate, although there are two included apps used for heart rate monitoring, and they gave me conflicting info.  One, “Heart Activity”, seemed to think I’d done 30 minutes of exercise:2014-09-11 08.33.07 2014-09-11 08.33.18The other, Heart Rate, seems to think I’ve been Inactive the entire morning:2014-09-11 08.32.21
  5. This leads into my one major issue with the 360 as a fitness tracker, which is that it seems pretty great at collecting data, but not very good at aggregating it.  I’m hopeful this will change with the release of Google Fit in Android L, but right now, it’s confined to the watch and, apparently, Motorola’s servers, at least after I adopted in to the Wellness Profile section of the Motorola Connect app.  Until that data is used elsewhere, though, my FitBit will stay in my pocket, as I use it not just for the data, but for how that data interacts with services my MyFitnessPal.

Overall, I’m pretty optimistic about the possibilities of the Moto 360 as a fitness device.  I don’t think it will replace true dedicated all-fitness devices like an expensive GPS watch, but I can certainly see it replacing the need to carry both a smartwatch and an ambient fitness tracker.

I still have a few things I want to test – I want to see how the Moto 360 responds to my workouts on a treadmill and stationary bike, and I want to see how battery life performs for rides/runs if I manually toggle the display off.  My theory is that it will accurately record the treadmill and not the stationary bike, but I’ve already been pleasantly surprised, so who knows?  After all of that testing, I’ll make a final post with my findings – probably sometime early next week.

My morning with the Moto 360 and RunKeeper

I’m a strong believer in the union between technology and fitness; one of the things that sold me on the original Pebble was its RunKeeper integration.  It’s actually a little distressing how easy it is to convince me to buy a new gadget if I can somehow convince myself it’ll help me.  So, logically, one of the first things I did after I acquired my Moto 360 yesterday afternoon was take it out out on this morning’s run to compare it with Pebble’s performance in that same area.  Unfortunately, I can’t compare it to other Android Wear watches, as I haven’t used them.

My result?  Surprisingly good!  I’ll share my experiences in pro/con style:


  • Unlike the Pebble RunKeeper app, I can start, pause, and end my run without taking my phone out of my pocket.  This is actually pretty important, considering I run with my dog, and she stops to…do her business a bit more often than I’d like.  Fumbling with a phone and a leash, while trying to pause my run, is not fun.
  • The Moto 360 tracks both steps and heart rate – the step count seems pretty comparable to my FitBit.  I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the heart rate, but it’s nice to know it’s being done.  I’m hopeful that, in the future, RunKeeper can actually incorporate that heart rate data into my run and display it as part of the graph, as it currently does with standalone heart rate monitors.  It was a nice surprise that it passively monitored my heart rate in the first place.

2014-09-10 08.33.49 2014-09-10 08.36.16 2014-09-10 08.36.54

  • Incoming notifications don’t interrupt my RunKeeper display, unlike they do with the Pebble.  My wrist still vibrates to let me know something knew has come in, but the RunKeeper display remains on top.
  • Battery life held up better than expected after the nightmare stories I’ve heard; it was down to about 65% when I got home, meaning it should last for about the length of a 3 hour bike ride or run – far longer than I usually do, though I have to wonder how well it’ll do during my upcoming half-marathon in January.  I’ll get a better sense for that once I start training in mid October.



  • Although the 360’s display is always on when RunKeeper is active, it is also too dim to see in the morning Arizona sun.  Tapping the display is necessary if I want to view my elapsed time and pace.  On the Pebble, this isn’t an issue as the display is always active and has the same ambient brightness.  Since tapping the watch is necessary to view the display anyway, it’d be nice if there was an option to have the screen off until I tapped to view my current status.  I’m sure that’d save a lot of battery life.
  • The Pebble relies on a rarely-updating display to maintain good battery life, which is why watch faces with something as simple as an active second hand will noticeably reduce battery life.  So, while battery can drain on the Pebble can be pretty heavy during “live” activities like RunKeeper, I can be confident that the watch will still make it at least the rest of the day after my run or ride.  I’m not sure I can say the same thing about the 360.
  • The 360’s touchscreen gets pretty gross after even light interaction during an hour long run; an unavoidable reality of a watch with a touchscreen, but no less obnoxious.


Bonus battery info:

I’ll elaborate more on this in my upcoming review, but my rule with the 360 is that – thanks to the convenience of wireless charging – I’m fine charging it whenever my Pebble would naturally be off my wrist anyway.  This includes:

  1. When I’m sleeping.
  2. Sometimes, when I get home from work.
  3. When I shower in the morning.

#3 is notable, as that’s what I did this morning – dropped the 360 onto its charger right after my run, so it could get a boost while I was getting ready for work.  During the 20 minutes this took, the 360 charged up 27%.  That was far better than I’d expected:

2014-09-10 08.38.06 2014-09-10 08.58.57

Overall, I came away more impressed with the 360-as-a-fitness-device than I expected to be.  I’ve long said my ideal wearable would be a Pebble with a microphone combined with the functionality of a FitBit.  While the 360 isn’t quite enough for me to leave the house without my FitBit, it’s damn close – and if MyFitnessPal incorporates Android Wear data the same way it incorporates FitBit data, then the time may finally come where the FitBit can stay at home.

The only real question is how the 360 performs while biking, since I imagine I’ll be less comfortable tapping the display to wake it when I’m biking than when I’m running.  Of course, that’s a post for tomorrow.

Moto 360 in the house!

Impressions coming in a day or so.

2014-09-09 15.31.23 2014-09-09 15.31.47 2014-09-09 15.58.01-1

Shit’s about to get real

Tomorrow, Apple announces:

  • A 4.7 inch iPhone
  • (Possibly) a 5.5 inch iPhone
  • (Probably) an iWatch wearable device

I currently have a Moto 360 heading to a Best Buy with my name on it, likely due to arrive on Thursday.  Its arrival and purchase will cement both my allegiance with Android (at least for the next couple of years) and with wireless charging, as I will have the Holy Trinity of Qi-compatible smartphone, tablet, and wearable.

However, iOS8 is impressive.  Very impressive.  It fills in most of the functionality gaps between iOS and Android that I’ve been waiting for since my move to Android a couple of years ago.  It also brings larger phones to iOS – another thing I’ve been waiting for. As someone who wants his technology to “just work”, and is already heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem in the form of OS X, Apple has a serious chance of winning me back over tomorrow, depending on how solid their line-up is.  It’s not that I’m tired of Android – I just see serious value on being all-end with a particular hardware ecosystem, and right now, nothing in the Android line-up delivers quite the comprehensive hardware ecosystem that Apple does.

I don’t think iOS8 with a larger iPhone will be quite enough to win me back, though – in many ways, it hinges on what their wearable brings to the table.  If it’s as health and fitness-based as rumors suggest, then it will be hard to resist, given my near-obsession with the marriage of exercise and technology.

Either way, tomorrow proves to be very interesting.  The time has come, as The Verge put it, to choose my religion.

RunKeeper’s latest update added Android Wear support

2014-07-03 01.59.17

Damn.  There went my last reason to ignore Android Wear and stick to Pebble.

More on Android Wear

Arstechnica does a better job justifying the smartwatch than I did in my Pebble review:

I’ve used quite a few gadgets in my time, and I’ve never seen anything become as instantly useful as Android Wear has. It’s not just me, either. At Google I/O, every attendee got an Android Wear watch, and after a single day, it seemed like everyone’s behavior had changed. A notification sound would go off, which would normally send everyone within earshot rummaging through bags and pockets, but by the second day of I/O, we all just learned to check our watches. Strapping on a Wear watch for a few days changes your mobile workflow. It’s an extremely useful device that I plan on wearing from now on for the simple reason that it makes me more productive.

This is what makes Android Wear so special. Because Google laid the groundwork for Android Wear one year ago with Android 4.3, the OS has out-of-the-box compatibility with most apps. Where most smartwatches need custom-built notification compatibility, what you see above is the baseline functionality for everything in Android Wear.

I continue to be super-impressed by this feature of Android Wear.  Sometimes Google does things in a way that feels lazy or haphazard, but with Wear, they laid the groundwork over a year in advance, and now they can finally reap what they sowed.

Wear is like the ultimate Google Now machine.


When you hear a beep, you have to dig into your pocket or purse, fish out your smartphone, turn on the screen, unlock the phone, pull down the notification shade, and see what caused the beep. How you feel about Wear depends a lot on how you feel about that process of digging out your phone to check those notifications: if you do it a thousand times a day and it drives you crazy, then Wear is pretty exciting.

Wearables will never be an “essential” piece of technology, and that’s not the standard by which they should be judged—a smartwatch is a luxury item that’s tied to your smartphone and doesn’t really introduce any new functionality. What a good wearable can do, though, is let you do stuff faster and easier than you can with your smartphone, and it’s by that standard that Wear is a useful product. The days of having to find, turn on, and unlock some lost piece of plastic are over, and now addressing that ever-present beep just takes an effortless glance at your wrist.

Google has turned the smartwatch OS from a clunky half-baked gadget to a useful tool.

As much as I love my Pebble, I fear it is not long for this world, especially if and when Wear gets RunKeeper support.

Android Wear: A Great Foundation

The Verge writes:

Google’s take on the smartwatch isn’t too different from what the people behind the Pebble figured out last year: it should be all about notifications. At its core, Android Wear is a little remote for your Android phone’s notification shade. Everything that appears there also appears on your watch, and when you dismiss notifications on the watch they also disappear on the phone.

There are basically two kinds of people in this world: those who check their phone immediately when it buzzes and those who don’t. If you’re the sort that does, you’re going to enjoy having your inbox on your wrist. When something comes in, you can quickly glance down to see what it is without completely ignoring whatever you’re doing. You can act on some of them too, thanks to Android’s rich notification actions. That means that you will be able to play and pause music from apps that put those controls in the notification center, for example.

So, as expected, Android Wear seems like a really solid foundation for some truly great stuff going forward. It’s already handling native Android notifications far, far better than Pebble, and once better third-party stuff comes along, like RunKeeper, then I’m afraid Pebble’s just going to be left in the dust, unfortunately. Pebble has done a fantastic job so far, but it’s really, really hard to compete with native, officially-supported solutions.

All I’ve really wanted out of Pebble is better notification support, a microphone, and fitness tracking functionality, and Android Wear is going to give me two out of three of these out of the gate.

Now, where do I get that Moto 360?


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