The first smart phone truly designed and made by Google is coming and Google Now is the star of the show. It's not surprising that Google is pushing Google Now as the key feature of the new Motorola branded phone, the Moto X. Google Now is arguably the most exciting and innovative thing Google has done in the mobile space. When it works it feels almost like magic, and the search capabilities are fast and accurate. Having those capabilities even more accessible truly feels futuristic and requires little effort on the part of the user to experience. A near pure Android experience, on decent hardware at a reasonable price and stand out features could be the thing to get Motorola back in the game.
Since last year there has been rumors of a Google made flagship smart phone manufactured by the recently purchased Motorola Mobility. Numerous photos have leaked of the device, even Google CEO, Eric Schmidt was seen with one last week. Over the 4th of July weekend Google put out a full page color ad in major newspapers around the U.S. getting the hype train rolling about the Moto X. The ad mentioned that users will be able to customize their phones when they order them and the phones will be manufactured in the United States.
From what we've learned since, the customization may not be as groundbreaking as some tech enthusiast would have hoped. According to rumors, buyers will be able to choose the color of the back of the phone, make engravings and pre-load a home screen photo. Big deal. But possibly it's a start to something more robust in the future. If you thought you would be able to choose your chipset or if most people actually want that kind of customization you're kidding yourself.
If this is Google's first phone they've designed and manufactured in-house what makes it any different than the half dozen other android phones that come out every year? Well a leaked video from the Canadian mobile phone carrier, Rogers shows Google has added a few features that could turn the Moto X from an also-ran Android device into the hottest Android phone on the market.
Google is leveraging it's proactive, incredibly smart and sometimes creepy assistant software, Google Now in the Moto X. The phone's microphone will be listening for you to speak the phrase, "OK, Google Now" and instantly turn on to perform a task for you. Putting Google Now front and center and always ready to respond to your every beck and call is extremely useful and brings some of that Google Glass allure to users today. Searches, weather, traffic, sports, etc. can be made without even picking up your device.
Of course there are important security and privacy concerns Google will have to address about the "always listening" microphone and how it's implemented. In the wake of the Prism scandal concern about the reach tech companies and the government have on our lives is understandable. As long as the device has a setting to turn the feature off and on, a lot of the worry should be calmed. In fact Google demoed this exact same technology at their Google I/O developers conference a few months back for Google Search to much excitement. Personally I find this ubiquitous portal to knowledge and information (Google) that both listens and speaks to you is ripped straight from my imagination and growing up watching shows like Star Trek.
The Moto X will have passive visual alerts that tell you not only that there is a new notification, but shows you the type of notification as well. This isn't that groundbreaking of a feature but a small touch that makes information a bit more glance-able and extends to notion of not having to reach for you phone.
The word is Google may spend up to $500 Million in marketing the Moto X this year in hopes of kick-starting the Motorola brand again. This would create more competition in the Android headset market, which Samsung is clearly dominating. Reviving the Motorola brand will also allow Google to generate some actual income from the pricey $13 Billion buy out of Motorola Mobility last year.
From the rumored specs (4.7 inch 720P display, 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 CPU, 2GB of RAM) of the Moto X, Google is going for a more modest device that's likely more affordable off contract, similar to their Nexus devices. Embracing the "Made In America" tagline and making it available at all major carriers, it'll be interesting to see if Google can bring the Motorola brand back to its former glory.