Swap bands in a flash with Google’s Mode for Android Wear

Google doesn’t have any Android Wear watches of its own, but that’s not stopping it from creating watch bands for the entire Android Wear family. The search giant announced Mode for Android Wear — bands that use “snap-and-go technology” to make switching them easy.

Mode works with Android Wear watches that support a interchangeable bands, like the Moto 360 (2nd gen), the Asus Zenwatch 2, and the Huawei Watch. On the bottom of each watch strap, you’ll find a mechanism that lets you snap them into place with the watch.

Mode bands are not compatible with the first generation Moto 360, the Sony Smartwatch 3, the Moto 360 Sport, and the LG Watch Urbane (2nd Edition LTE).

But not all Android Wear watches are the same, which is why Mode watch bands come in four different sizes — 22mm, 20mm, 18mm, and 16mm — to ensure a proper fit for the Wear watch that you have. The bands, made by Hadley Roma, come in either genuine Italian leather or silicone, and come in 16 different colors.

To change a watch band, first you’ll have to remove whatever pins your current watch uses. When you purchase a Mode band, you’ll get a band removal tool and installation pins — use the tool to remove the current band, and then push in the provided pins into the watch.

It took us a couple of tries to get the pin securely in place.

This part’s pretty common if you have experience changing bands for regular watches, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It took us a couple of tries to get the pin securely in place — that’s after we lost one that went flying away, and after stabbing myself in my index finger. The tool is pretty sharp, OK?

But that’s the only hard part about setting up your watch to be compatible with Mode watch bands — now just snap on the watch band you’re in the mood to wear. Mode is certainly helpful for when you’re going from work to the gym, or vice versa, but it can also be a fun way to change up the color and type of your watch band every day.

Google says Mode’s design and name is free to use for all manufacturers and accessory makers to adopt, “as long as they source the Mode mechanism from Google-authorized vendors, pass reliability testing, and follow our brand guidelines.” Expect to see more Mode watches on the market in the near future.

The silicone band looks good, and is a solid alternative for when you’re going to get a little sweaty but still want to wear your watch. The genuine Italian leather band doesn’t exactly feel like leather, though. Rather, it feels more like a foam, or padded material that gives off a leather odor. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good, it just doesn’t feel too high-end.

It’s likely that Mode is Google’s answer to Apple’s new Watch bands the Cupertino company unveiled at its March 21 event. Apple CEO Tim Cook said ““about a third of our Apple Watch wearers regularly change the bands,” at the event, which is just about the best reason to introduce some more competition, and to spruce up what Android Wear offers.

Google is selling the silicone bands for $50, and the leather bands for $60 at the Google Store. You can also get them at Best Buy or Amazon.

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