Motorola and Google announced the Moto X smartphone yesterday, and it’s supposed to learn how you use your device based on where you are, what apps you use, and what you want. It responds to voice commands and gestures, but is it the phone that you want? Motorola certainly hopes so.
This is the first device that on which Google and Motorola have collaborated. It’s built on Motorola’s great hardware, but designed by Google and running an almost stock version of Android. But what is Google’s magic bullet? If you combine all of the power of Android with the new, intuitive software capabilities behind Moto X, and add Motorola’s new X8 Computing System, you being to see the power behind this new device.
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One of the Moto X’s biggest new features is its Touchless Controls. Google Now brought vast improvements to Google’s Voice Search functionality. The new Moto X voice commands let you do much more than just compose messages and search the web. You can control almost everything that the device can do, using just your voice. Making phone calls, getting weather and traffic updates, reading your text messages, opening apps. You don’t even have to turn on the Moto X’s display. All you have to do is say “OK Google Now” followed by a command.
Google Now is Google’s predictive search service. It’s supposed to anticipate what you want based on where you are and your previous activity. Google builds a profile of you, and ties all of its services in to Google Now. You don’t need to perform a search for the weather or whether your flight is still one time. Google will use your location and find flight information, package shipping dates, and purchase receipts using information it gathers from Gmail and Google other services. Google Now puts all of this together and provides it for you before you even ask.
The Moto X smartphone also reacts to the way you use and even handle it. Google has estimated that people pick up and turn on their devices between 60-100 times in a single day, mostly just to check the time. Using this information, Motorola built a feature into the Moto X called Active Display. The feature will activate itself any time you pick up the device, or even if you simply flip it face up. Active Display will show you the current time as well as notifications, right on the sleep screen of the phone, slowly fading in and out of view. Motorola’s Senior Vice President of Product Management, Rick Osterloh, called this “breathing.” The 4.7 inch, AMOLED display only lights up the pixels that it needs to show the time or notifications, conserving battery life. The notifications can be opened up to the full app by just simply touching and dragging that notification.
The Moto X camera is also gesture-responsive. Using a feature called Quick Capture Camera, the camera will activate simply by twisting the phone in the air. The phone does not even need to be awake; the sensors will recognize the movement and open the camera app.
Another feature called Moto Assist knows when you’re doing certain things, like driving or if you’re in a meeting. Moto Assist will change aspects of the device based on those situations. If you’re in a meeting, the smartphone will know by reading your calendar app. It will automatically set itself to Silent and auto-reply to any messages you receive, and then change itself back when the meeting is over. When you’re driving, Moto Assist can detect your speed and begin reading your messages out loud to you. It can even allow you to change the music in your car using voice commands.
All of this gives Google a compelling product to offer consumers, and allows them even deeper into our lives.
X8 Mobile Computing System
The Moto X features like Active Display, Touchless Controls, and the gesture-based actions are all built on the foundation of Motorola’s new X8 Mobile Computing System. X8 is a closed-source, proprietary system designed by both Google and Motorola. They have no plans to open-source the project. This is Motorola’s baby, and one it hopes to hold on to.
The X8 Computing System is a hardware feature. It is eight computer cores, working together but assigned separate tasks. Two cores are set aside for natural language processing. This is used for Touchless Control and the contextual computing engine that sense when you are holding the phone and interacting with it. Four cores are used for graphics processing. Then there is a 1.7 GHz, dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip for everything else.
This hardware implantation is unique, and is a smart move by Motorola. The Moto X has bowed out of the spec race. It’s not about straight speed. This phone is optimized for performance and built around it’s great new features.
Google Has Aimed The Moto X At Regular Consumers
Motorola is aiming the Moto X smartphone at mass market consumers. They are not focusing on the elite, tech-minded users who want the biggest and best. They are also not looking at users who want the cheapest phone available. Google is looking to capture the attention of the normal, everyday smartphone buyer. It’s not designed to compete with flagship smartphones like the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4.
Google wants buyers who would like to customize the look of their smartphones, too. This has been an area of interest for many people, but no one has filled this hole in the market until now. Using a website call Moto Maker, users can select the look for the front and back of their devices, add customized writing on the back, and even add a message to the boot up screen when the device is turned on. There are over 2,000 possible phone variations on the Moto Maker, allowing consumers to choose from a variety of materials and textures for their phone back. Color options exist, too. Whether you want your phone to be metallic blue or bright orange, even wood, Moto X gives you those choices.
All of this is assembled in a plant in Fort Worth, Texas. Motorola is heavily pushing this fact. The Moto X smartphone will only be available in the United States, and it’s put together here too.
Moto X will be available on T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T as well as U.S. Cellular. On contract, it is priced at $199 for the 16 GB version and $249 for the larger 32 GB option. Motorola is stating that users who place a customized order through the Moto Maker website will have their devices with days of ordering. No set release dates are known, but it should be available by the end of August.
What do you think? Is Moto X for you?