Moto 360 Smartwatch: 7 Challenges

Can Motorola's smartwatch, based Google's Android operating system for wearable devices, succeed where others have failed?

data subscription fees. How much will users really pay to receive even more notifications than they already get?

3. Battery life
The first iteration of the Samsung Gear was criticized for inadequate battery life. The next version is said to be able to last for 2-3 days before a recharge. The Moto 360 will need to match that, but that may depend on whether the device is used heavily -- location updates and frequent messaging on a color screen could put a strain on available power. The Pebble, which can go for about a week between recharges (by ditching the power drain of a color screen and camera), suggests less may be more for smartwatches.

4. Screen visibility
Motorola's video depiction of Moto 360 is a triumph of video effects. But it doesn't reveal how the device's screen will actually look in bright daylight. At present, there isn't really a display technology that looks great, provides high visibility both indoors and outdoors, and can be refreshed rapidly.

5. Size
The Moto 360 looks like it's about the size of an Oreo, which may be a bit too thick to be worn comfortably, depending on the device's actual weight. And comfort matters. It will be interesting to see whether any of Google's fashion partners sign off on smartwatches that sacrifice thinness to accommodate necessary electronics. It may be that smartwatches won't really take off until we have another decade of miniaturization to shrink the necessary electronics into the form factor of a modern, ultra-slim wristwatch.

6. Charging
Moto 360 will be judged not only on battery life but also on recharge time and on recharge mode -- it should really support inductive charging, so there's no need to attach a power cord. Ideally, you'd never need to remove it from your wrist; it would be recharged passively by arm motion.

7. Audio quality
Will the Moto 360 play alert sounds or turn text into spoken sounds? Will it sound good to its wearer? Will it annoy those nearby? At least Motorola won't have to worry about "Moto 360" being turned into an epithet along the lines of "Glasshole."

Smartwatches and wearables are coming. Maybe Motorola will deliver. But it's more likely that we will have to wait until Apple reveals what it has up its sleeve before it's clear whether smartwatches represent a smart purchase this year.

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