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Meet Moto 360: Hanging out with Motorola’s lead designer and Android Wear

The new Android Wear platform is coming to a smart watch near you, most likely in the form of Motorola’s newly announced offering, the Moto 360.

We sat in on a Google Hangouts interview with Jim Wickes, part of Motorola’s consumer experience design group and the lead designer on the new Moto 360 smart watch project. Jim’s previous endeavours include the Droid RAZR range in the States and the Moto X, the first phone that Motorola released under Google’s ownership.

Following the announcement of the platform twinned with the unveiling of the LG G Watch and Moto 360 just days ago, tech heads have been scrambling to learn all that they can about the capabilities of these new tech-laden timepieces. Jim was happy to answer questions on the development and some of the extended functionality that the Moto 360 offers, but he still kept quiet on the finer details.

The story of the Moto 360 starts with the time (shock, horror). Nowadays, circular faces feature on 80 to 85 per cent of all watches sold worldwide and it’s recognised as the most iconic shape for timepieces over the years.

What’s more, compared to the squared design of the likes of Sony’s SmartWatch 2 for example, it’s more comfortable against the joints in your wrist. It was revealed that Android Wear supports both square and circular displays natively as well.

Jim explained, “If we take a smartphone and we just take that tech and put it on your wrist, that’d make the most rational thing, you know? But that’s not what this space is about. You need to actually connect with consumers emotionally.”

Moto 360 material choices

Material choice was another key aspect of the 360’s development, with options for premium leather and metal straps anticipated at launch. Compatibility with standard watchstraps also works in the Moto 360’s favour, letting users customise the look of their watch allowing for more unisex appeal in a product class that’s arguably been dominated by masculine designs up until this point.

In terms of solid facts surrounding the Moto 360, we did learn a little more over the course of the interview. The smart watch has no discernable ports for charging, no hidden contacts and no microUSB connection, leading us to believe it’ll sell with some sort of wireless charging station, potentially adhering to Qi charging standards like the LG Nexus 5 and Nokia Lumia 920. Battery life wasn’t detailed either, but power management is said to be a ‘very important’ part of this project.

It’s designed to be worn on the left or the right wrist, so there’s no favouritism here. The user interface can rotate to suit your preferred side, all the while keeping the crown (the twiddly bit on the side) in the correct orientation. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear, it forgoes an integrated camera too, although that’s not to say Motorola won’t ever release a version with one.

It’s also water resistant, likely contributing to the fitness angle we’ve seen most smart wearables adopt recently (see the Samsung Gear Fit for an idea of what we mean). Don’t submerge it in water, but don’t worry if it a little rain gets on it either.

The last piece of the puzzle that we came away with was availability. It’ll work with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean devices or later and hit stores (in the US at least) come Summer. Pricing wasn’t revealed, boo.

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