Maybe this Android Wear thing isn't going to be so bad after all. At least, that's what I thought when I got a real life glimpse of both Motorola and Samsung's Android Wear devices. They're svelte. They're stock. And maybe Google's influence is what will help drive the wearables market forward after all.
I saw Motorola's Moto 360 in black. It's got a large round screen, with a 1.8-inch display that extends all the way to the edges. It's not overpowering, either; a Motorola spokeswoman said she preferred its lightweight feel to that of her similarly-sized Michael Kors fashion watch. And paired next to a sparkly bracelet, the Moto 360 actually looked great on her wrist. I feel like many of the wrist wearable devices thus far have had a rather masculine appeal to them, so it was nice to see something that, although black, was stylish enough to pair with a sparkly bracelet. Aesthetics is what will help sell Android Wear devices to the style conscious.
The Gear Live, on the other hand, appeared to be no more than a slimmed-down reprise of Samsung's Tizen-powered Gear smart watches. It was remarkably light, however. I tried one on for a second and it felt just as weightless as my FitBit. The watch's square display seems smaller than the existing Gear devices, too, but I didn't have one on hand to compare. Also, while the Moto 360 utilizes a buckle, the Gear Live has a pop-in clasp like those other Samsung smartwatches.
Whether you like the square-faced display or the round-faced one will depend entirely on your own personal style, but the software is impeccable. It's gesture-based, for the most part, but its interface looks and acts just like a shrunken down, sequestered version of Google Now. The watches were only on "retail mode" for the day, so I couldn't really test them out, but the initial interface screens resemble a version of Android refined for your wrist. Samsung didn't paste over any of its TouchWiz overlay on the Gear Live, either—it's essentially a stock version of Android Wear on a Samsung product. Imagine that!
The Samsung Gear Live will be on sale July 7, while the Motorola Moto 360 will debut later this summer.