Google wants to style your wrist with its MODE easy-to-swap watchbands

The Android Wear watchbands come in a variety of different sizes and styles and feature a clasping mechanism that makes it easy to switch them out.

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Credit: Florence Ion

How do you beat Apple at its wearable game? You attack it with customization, options, and a neat clasping mechanism whose design is open for anyone to use.

That’s exactly what Google’s attempting with the launch of its new line of MODE watchbands for Android Wear. These bands are not only fashionable, but they feature a clasping mechanism that makes it easy to quickly swap out watchbands as often as you change your clothes.

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The MODE watchbands use a proprietary clasping mechanism that latches on to the existing pins on your Android Wear smartwatch.

There are 16 different leather and silicone styles to choose from in a variety of sizes, all of which are compatible with the latest Android Wear models. The design of the MODE mechanism is free for other high-end manufacturers to use, so that they can be inspired to get on board. And as an added bonus, each watchband comes equipped with its own pins and miniature removal tool.

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The Genuine Italian Leather watch band looked and felt better than the one Asus shipped with the ZenWatch 2.

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The gray color is neutral enough that is matches with plenty of clothing items.

I had to opportunity to try on two of the MODE Watchbands with the smaller Asus ZenWatch 2 ($139 on Amazon). First up was the gray Genuine Italian Leather watch band, which sells for $60. It felt much more premium than what Asus bundled in with the watch, and even the buckle had more weight to it. Note that the push-to-remove clasping mechanism feels reminiscent of what Asus offered in the first place, though it’s not as sturdy as Google’s offering.

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The sportier Silicon Active watch band was a little too athletic for my taste.

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The silicone was comfortable for the brief time I had it on, however. 

Afterwards, I swapped out the leather band for a sportier Silicone Active watch band, which costs $50. I did not enjoy it paired with the silver watch chassis. Regardless, swapping bands took me mere seconds, and I can see why Google is marketing this kind of snap-on, snap-off usage model. It makes it so that you can carry around the bands you like and change into them as you would a shirt, a pair of earrings, or even your lipstick.

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Two different styles to get you through two different parts of your day.

Google’s likely hoping that the infinite customization options will lure in more converts to the Android Wear way of life. However, I’d like to see the company teach the unconverted through marketing about how helpful the platform can be in their daily lives, the same way that Apple markets the Apple Watch.

For now, it’s good to see Google attempt to pinpoint itself as a stylish wearable platform, but whether that means better sales numbers is another thing entirely. I’m also bummed to see that the company behind the bands is churning these out overseas. Google could’ve offered a real edge over Apple by making its bands domestically, especially since the latest fad in fashion is to conscientiously pay a little more for shoes and clothing manufactured in America.

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