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I've been interested in a heart rate monitor for a while now, playing with a chest-mounted Bluetooth model (connectivity was spotty, it worked for a week and then quit), a Withings Pulse (nice little pedometer, but no realtime heart rate monitoring, you need to remove the device from the holder and touch your finger to the sensor). I was considering a FitBit as a last-resort (I'd rather not have something on my wrist) but when they dropped the Moto 360 to about the same price I decided it was time for a new toy, even if I only wore it for runs.

I never liked the idea of wearables, at least not watches. I'd much prefer a Google Glass-like head mounted display for real hands-free operation. My philosophy was that my phone was always nearby and I already used a trusted device unlocking mechanism via SkipLock, why would I want some jewelry to tell me what my phone already does.

It turns out I may have been wrong. My phone is always nearby, but often on the nightstand or otherwise out of reach. And when walking around in the city I can't really feel nor hear the notifications well. On my wrist it's much more deterministic that I get the message. We'll have to see how this plays out longer term, but I think I'm actually liking the Moto 360.

The Good Stuff

The Moto 360 looks far better than most of the other watches out there. Square watches are just...not right. The LG watch has a thick bezel. I've got a black finish body which has a gold accent around the button. I replaced the leather band with a black metal band which I like much better.

Qi wireless charging means no port to get dirty or wet, and standard chargers. Of course, the metal band does limit your a bit on that since you can't lay the body down on a charger, but at least I have hope that the stock 360 charger will work with next gen watches since it's not a snap-on accessory.

Most apps "just work" - for example when I'm casting from any app on my phone I get play/pause and volume controls on my watch. It's not smart enough to pick up on this for casts from other devices, at least not yet.

There are a slew of watch faces available for just about any taste. It is nice to be able to choose a face to match what I'm wearing (you know, boring in three different colors) or what I'm doing. It's also fairly easy to create your own faces, I've built one that's less about time and pulls from the watches heart rate and step sensors.

After the first few days my battery life is increasing at the end of each day. Some of this is less playing, but there's also likely an aspect to a few charge cycles changing the battery chemistry and the watch learning enough to support better power management techniques. After a full day (>15 hours) I'm still at more than 50%.

Soon WiFi will be enabled via a firmware update. Go, go systems on a chip side effects!

The So-So Stuff

The flat tire. It's a bit of an annoyance with certain watch faces, a clever platform for others. I'd rather have it than a big bezel/smaller screen, but it would be nice to get rid of it as well.

Better notification control would be useful. You can block notifications by app, but having certain apps (like Now, for example) show notifications if you scroll through instead of taking up screen space would be nice. This way I can glance at my watch and see that I've got a new email, but I don't see that a particular stock is down 2%.

The Bad Stuff

The watch really needs to redraw the screen before powering it on. Often there's a fraction of a second where the watch face is in the previous state before it redraws with the current time.

I can't seem to change the dock watch face, I'm stuck with a simple digital clock. Even worse, you can't easily shut it off.

It uses Bluetooth. Bluetooth is great when it works, but it's not an overly reliable protocol. Every so often I find myself rebooting my watch, rebooting my phone, or toggling WiFi to get things to reconnect. It's heaps more reliable than many Bluetooth devices I've got, but still...

The Stuff That Would Make Me Upgrade

I don't need all of these, but I need more than one to convince me the 360 R2 is worth the upgrade.

Thinner, the watch is a bit thick and barely fits under a long-sleeved shirt.

NFC payment support.

A more passive heart rate monitor, the current method uses an LED sensor which means it draws a lot of power. If it could provide continuous heartrate information (even if it meant going into "workout mode") that would completely replace a FitBit.

Other Neat Ideas

The watch should have "on-wrist" detection, essentially when it's removed from your wrist it should be able to notify the paired phone of such. This would trigger the smart unlock feature of the phone that the watch is no longer to be viewed as secure until it's back on your wrist.

I would love to see a light directionality/intensity sensor. Today's watchface collections are geared (rightly or wrongly) around mimicking $10k watches on a <$200 screen. If there was a sensor to detect not only the ambient light levels, but also directionality that information could be used to create realistic shadow effects.

An O2 saturation sensor would be interesting. Withings did it with a fingertip sensor, I wonder if it could be done with an on-wrist sensor as well.

An IR remote for my TV. It would be better if this was just a generic "pause Chromecast" command via WiFi (or through the phone as a proxy) even if the phone didn't initiate the stream. But that's a more complex problem if there are multiple Chromecasts streaming at once on a WiFi network. Of course, the real issue here is that it needs to be invisible. Putting a black plastic bit on the bezel just to have this isn't worth it.

Apps, Tips and Tricks

To shut off the screen when docked, use the phone app to switch to ambient mode, wait for the screen to dim, then switch away from ambient mode.

You can download a ton of free faces from Face Repo, or you can build your own using WatchMaker.

Cinch will monitor your heart rate throughout the day and has a "workout mode" which can provide more real time readings. It's not without flaws, I'd love to see workout mode plug into Fit and the realtime heart rate doesn't show up in the graph. But it's a good start.