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In-depth look at new Moto X software: Connect, Active Display, Assist, and more

Posted: , by Michael H.

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In-depth look at new Moto X software: Connect, Active Display, Assist, and more
As part of today's DROID lineup announcement, we saw a couple software additions made by Motorola including Touchless Control and Active Display. Well not surprisingly, those features will also be found in the Moto X as well as a slew of other interesting features like Motorola Migrate and Connect, as we're seeing in a new set of software leaks from the X Phone. And, what's pretty interesting is that there is a lot more info in this leak than we got from the official DROID announcement today. 

Let's start out by revisiting the features that we heard about today:

Touchless Controls and Active Display

There isn't much new to add about Touchless Controls. The feature is basically voice activation for Google Now. You can train it to recognize your voice with a the activation phrase "OK Google Now". Then, even when your phone is asleep, you can activate Google Now and speak a command. Definitely a nice feature, but unfortunately we don't know what kinds of commands have been added to really push the "touchless control" concept. 

The far more interesting side of things is the Active Display feature, which will be using the Moto X's AMOLED display in an incredible way to bring you info with a minimal hit to battery usage. We saw this a bit in the Rogers promo video, and earlier today we mentioned it as a way to "allows users to preview messages and app alerts without waking their phone". Now, we know a bit more about how that will work. 

According to the tutorial screenshots on the feature, the phone will fade in and out notifications (as we saw in the video), but the real key here is that the display will light "only the pixels needed", rather than waking the entire display, which will drastically reduce battery usage. Even better, as we've heard about the awareness features of the device, the Moto X will know when it is in your pocket, face down, or on a call, and not show notifications in those situations. So, using the various phone sensors, notifications will only show when you are most likely to see them

Additionally there are various controls for the notifications that appear. Dragging the notification upwards will expand it with more detail, and dragging down to the unlock area will unlock your device and launch you straight into whatever app triggered the notification. Dragging a notification right or left will throw it away, much like the swipe gestures you find in various places around Android and Google Apps these days. 

Active Display does come with a fair number of control settings as well. It looks like you will be able to manage the types of notifications that come through; and, it does say "type", which implies there won't be per-app controls. You can also choose to hide notifications altogether if you use a PIN lock or gesture lock on your device. And, you can set sleep times where notifications won't be shown, no matter what. 


Motorola Connect and Lost Phone Tracking

Considering that it is designed to offload phone usage to another device that doesn't have battery worries, Motorola Connect is also technically part of the Active Display feature. The idea here is that Motorola Connect will pair your phone with a Chrome extension to allow you to sync your text messages and phone calls. Motorola Connect does promise to let you "send and receive text messages from your computer and even get incoming call and missed call notifications." 

So, it sounds like Google Voice in that you can send and receive texts, but it is unclear if you will be able to route calls to Google Hangouts, like you can with Voice, or if Connect will only offer incoming call notifications and you'll still need to answer the call on your phone. You will be able to respond to phone calls with texts; and, Connect will have Google Now-like functionality to "highlight important notifications" based on info it pulls from your "contact, calendar, call, and text message information". That last bit seems like it will rankle some people who don't want to be reminded that machines can scan messages for context. 

Motorola Connect also serves as the backbone of other new features, including a feature that we keep hoping gets built into stock Android at some point: lost phone tracking. Motorola Connect will use your Google account credentials to allow you access to a Lost Phone Portal page, where you will be able to track your phone. So far, there is no word on if there will be options for remote wipe or any added security features. 


Motorola Migrate and Assist

Of course, the features mentioned so far are all things that you'll need once your device is already set up and ready to go, but there is also the issue of setting up your new device. That's where Motorola Migrate comes in. The idea here is to make it easy to transfer all of your information from your old Android phone to your new one. The key there being Android phone, because it doesn't look as though there are options for users on other platforms to take advantage of the feature. 

How it will work is that users will be prompted to download the Motorola Migrate app from Google Play onto their old device. Presumably you will log-in with your Google credentials, and the app will gather your text messages, call history, SIM contacts, media (video, pictures, and music), and your volume and screen brightness settings. Once that is done, you just complete the migration on your new device, and you're good to go. This is a very nice feature that looks to extend the data syncing you already get from Google, which brings over your contacts, mail, calendar, and apps (though not your app data.) 

Lastly, we have Motorola Assist, which is Motorola's contextually aware feature bundle. Think of it like an automated version of Tasker or Locale. With those apps, you have to input various parameters (like, when at this GPS location, turn off my ringer), but Assist will have more of a Google Now feel in that it will automatically try to know when to change various phone settings. 

For example, if you are moving at a certain speed, it will assume you are driving and put you into driving mode, which will make it easier to access hands-free communications options. We assume that this means even if you don't have Touchless Controls set up, you will be able to use voice commands at any time in driving mode. Additionally, Assist will pull information from your calendar (and, we assume, reference it with your GPS location) to determine if you are in a meeting or some other place where it would be best to silence your phone. And, it will know to turn off your ringer at night. 

Presumably there will be settings to tweak all of these actions, but the screenshots we're seeing don't show any of that. 


Conclusion

We knew that there was a lot coming in terms of software for the Moto X, but this is quite the impressive feature set right out of the gate. Some of the features aren't exclusive to the Moto X, and will be found on the new DROIDs that were announced today, but some features are exclusive to the Moto X, as far as we can tell. Most importantly, these are features that will be useful to most people, and not just end up as bloatware that clogs the system just for the sake of features (yes, we're referring directly to TouchWiz on that one.) Motorola (read: Google) is obviously trying to keep things close to stock, but add customizations that set the devices apart both from the pure Android Nexus line, but also from the often over-customized manufacturer offerings. 

We're pretty impressed so far, how about you?

25 Comments
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posted on 23 Jul 2013, 22:49

1. mottykels (Posts: 372; Member since: 15 May 2013)


How about the battery life with this features?

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 06:11

20. NexusPhan (Posts: 511; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


That's where the X8 computing architecture comes in to play. It will use one low powered core to handle all these with almost no drain on battery. It's an exciting would we live in today.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 22:54

2. darkvadervip (Posts: 338; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)


Sounds like texting and calling getting complicated! I dislike all this crap going into some of these phones. Just give me a good looking phone and screen with fast Internet with quality sound and a simple texting style.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:36

9. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 654; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


get a lumia 520 then

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:49 6

10. AliNSiddiqui (Posts: 381; Member since: 19 Sep 2012)


Get a WP then.. no one's forcing Android down your throat.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 02:57

17. boosook (Posts: 1047; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


Get an iphone.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 22:55

3. EXkurogane (Posts: 863; Member since: 07 Mar 2013)


I do like the features of the "command center", but many of them are things i dont even use, especially the wireless miracast stream to a TV. If i want to take advantage of it, it means buying a new TV.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:00 1

4. TheLolGuy (Posts: 483; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


A lot of these features are really tied to the power of Google Now, which is growing to be more incredible than ever. In that sense, these features can become more powerful with time as Google improves it's products.

In hindsight, a lot of Samsung's features do look more gimmicky, but I do feel like there are some that have potential like Air View.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:07 4

5. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4072; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


Motorola Connect stands out for me. It'll be nice to send texts from Chrome, I always seem to miss notifications when I'm on the computer and have my headphones on.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 09:57

23. rodkurt (Posts: 128; Member since: 29 Nov 2012)


yeah, it would be nice to call and text while using my laptop.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:14

6. pattpatt37063 (Posts: 6; Member since: 15 May 2013)


Is the AMOLED display pentile?

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:36 1

12. galanoth (Posts: 327; Member since: 26 Nov 2011)


Nope, it has the same sub pixel layout as the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4 Mini.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:41

13. Sniggly (Posts: 7125; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


What year are you living in, 2011? I'm pretty sure Pentile was killed as a failed experiment.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:04 3

14. pattpatt37063 (Posts: 6; Member since: 15 May 2013)


Galaxy S4 still use pentile

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 03:40 1

19. Sniggly (Posts: 7125; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Then what the f**k do you care? The display on the S4 kicks ass.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:44 3

16. tech2 (Posts: 2227; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


One of the 2 most highest selling android phones on the market have Pentile Amoled Display, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 and yes this is 2013 !

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 09:38

22. TheLolGuy (Posts: 483; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


Don't you think they stuck with it for a reason? Yeah if you look close up it looks a bit odd -- but that pixel setup was supposed to fix some issues inherent to their OLED panels. Longevity was one of them, which is crucial considering the blue colors lost brightness 4x faster than the other colors, causing poor color balance and distortion quickly.

The Galaxy S4 got a free pass in a certain sense, in that 441ppi is just so darn dense that you couldn't even see the pentile array even if you tried.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:24

7. Jason2k13 (Posts: 652; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


do people use google now or voice that much? i never really used it yet... only once or twice? So i would probably turn all these features off from the moto X.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 06:15 2

21. NexusPhan (Posts: 511; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Wow you are really missing out. I use it many times a day. If you travel ever its amazing. It's probably my favorite feature of my phone.

posted on 23 Jul 2013, 23:30

8. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 635; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


With all these nice features will any of the new so called smartphones know when to start recharging. I swear all smart phones are dumb in this regard no matter when you plug it in, it will begin to recharge the battery. Motorola with their seemingly useful chip which can be programmed to do different things should be able to take instructions to not charge my phone unless I tell it to or when I set the battery level auto recharge when plugged in(this would mean no more overcharging because you left it at home on the charger by mistake).

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 01:16

15. threeline (Posts: 257; Member since: 11 Sep 2011)


Doesn't most phones turn off charging once the "battery 100% charged" state is reached?

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 00:02

11. google-apple (Posts: 34; Member since: 19 Jul 2013)


Yeah, they impressed me too...

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 03:04

18. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2698; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Yes, these features are pretty impressive for me too.

posted on 24 Jul 2013, 12:21 1

24. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 861; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)


Why can't they launch a device with software like this using the hardware of the the Droid Razr Maxx HD. Instead they have to go all iPhone and start cutting out great things like microHDMI and a microSD slot.

posted on 30 Jul 2013, 22:38

25. pattpatt37063 (Posts: 6; Member since: 15 May 2013)


Pentile also make the color look greenish and on the latest leak the moto x screen look red when displaying white compare to Samsung amoled which will be bluefish when displaying white

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