The Moto 360 will be among the first smartwatches to run on Google’s Android Wear platform, but it’s not just the software that’s garnered attention in the past 24 hours.
Motorola’s smartwatch will break the traditional square smartwatch mould (Pebble and Samsung have both marketed square watch faces). The company says the circle-shaped face is a large part of how it plans to market its watch to the everyday user.
During a Google Hangout Q&A session on Wednesday, Motorola design chief Jim Wicks stressed the importance of employing a round watch face rather than a square one. Beyond aesthetics, Wicks described how a circular watch face could offer a better overall user experience.
When a watch face is round, the user’s eyes are naturally drawn to the center of the screen, Wicks said. The display can be aligned to the wearer’s eyes so that when it rotates it is always the “right” way up — on square faces, the display will sometimes appear sideways to the wearer.
The round design is also said to be more comfortable. According to the Motorola designer, a square watch with the same screen size (about 46mm diagonally in this case) would poke your wrist bones with its corners.
“People need to understand if you take the same surface area with a square, it won’t be as comfortable,” Wicks said during the interview.
Motorola toyed around with the idea of a square smartwatch as its next step into the wearables platform, but the round design was more striking, according to Wicks. Specifically, the square watch face lacked the “whoa” factor Wicks said he and his team experienced with the circular form factor.
The Moto 360 isn’t the first smartwatch to sport a circular design. The Martian Notifier, for instance, looks like a traditional wristwatch but connects to your smartphone to send alerts to your wrist. The watch buzzes as you receive notifications, but it doesn’t run on Android Wear and has a tiny screen just capable of showing simple messages.
Motorola will join the likes of LG in being among the first of Google partners to launch a smartwatch based on Android Wear. Announced on Tuesday, Android Wear is exactly as its name implies — it’s an extension of Google’s mobile operating system for smartwatches. The Moto 360 is set to debut this summer, and like other Android Wear-based gadgets it will be able to show the weather, sports scores, incoming texts and more at a glance.
We’ll have to wait until the Moto 360 launches in a few months to see if its circular design lives up to Motorola’s claims.