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Moto X Demo Video Reveals Google's Android Superphone 151

Posted by timothy
from the when-leaked-means-broadcast dept.
MojoKid writes with word that "A tech demo posted to YouTube shows off Motorola's upcoming Moto X smartphone, a seemingly high-end device that is sure to win over a few fans with its wealth of new tricks and features. The Moto X handset, which is launching exclusive to Rogers in Canada (no mention of U.S. market carriers) this August, will be available in black and white, but a key selling point of the device comes from its voice activated features. The tech demo heavily emphasizes Google Now, which Moto X users can engage without touching the device. In the demo, a woman is shown asking Google Now what the weather will be like in Toronto while she types away on a computer, never having to reach down to tap the handset. It was also previously leaked that the Moto X will ship with a 4.4-inch display (1280x720), 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8960 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 10MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and of course Android 4.2 Jelly Bean." With a marketing budget said to include up to half a billion (!) dollars from Google, it's hard to imagine that any leaks are actually unintentional.
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Moto X Demo Video Reveals Google's Android Superphone

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  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:11PM (#44278419)
    I can't see anything bad coming of this...
    • In all seriousness, the level of trust people have for phone companies is at an all time low, and now you have this "handy assistant" with you all the time. While it sounds like cool technology, I don't trust ANY of the players involved, and I doubt I am the only one.
      • Not just your person but do you want to be around someone who's permanently recording everything in their area?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 14, 2013 @02:04PM (#44278817)
          Permanently recording everything in their area? With 16 GB of storage (about 12 GB which is usable)? Right. And no, it isn't sending it to Google or anyone else - can you imagine the bandwidth charges for that? This works pretty simply - when the phone hears the keyword it wakes up and starts listening for a query. It works just like the earlier implementation of Google Now on Nexus phones except that on those phones you have to turn on the screen and open Google Now first. Then, you can say "Google" and it will start listening for a query. Not saving and permanently recording. It is all fine to be paranoid - but let's think about it a bit first.
          • by Joce640k (829181)

            This works pretty simply - when the phone hears the keyword it wakes up and starts listening for a query.

            What if anybody says "NSA" or "Taliban" near it?

      • by aminorex (141494) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @05:22PM (#44280135) Homepage Journal

        Everyone knows it's bad. But the candy is too sweet, the heroin too lush. It is certainly possible to secure a phone, and I think there is a market for it. Meanwhile it is doable, if you have time to hack. Install AOSP. Disable E911 in hardware. The layered services which create the most vulnerabilities are generally not engineered to be resistant to use by a clean phone.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        We have known for years about backdoors in cellphones that can turn them into listening devices for the feds for years. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029-6140191.html [cnet.com] im not sure why this is somehow all of a sudden evil when the feds could tap the mic since at least 06.
    • by phizi0n (1237812) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:43PM (#44278669)

      The video only shows it doing hands free voice search when you're already in Google Now which is already possible with any Android 4.2 rom (probably anything >4.0). The voice search only activates when you say the "google" keyword which she says "okay google now..."

      The specs look pretty lackluster so I'm confused why they are calling it a "superphone."

      • by phizi0n (1237812)

        Apparently Google Now requires Android >=4.1 or iOS >=5.0

        http://www.google.com/landing/now/ [google.com]

        • by exomondo (1725132)
          I think the iOS 5.0 requirement is because when Google Now was released Apple had already said iOS 5.0 was a minimum target for all app store submissions.
      • The video only shows it doing hands free voice search when you're already in Google Now

        I'm wondering if when you curse at it enough, it'll offer to file a bug report.

      • Yes, actually the specs look only very slightly better than the current RAZR HD... VERY slightly when you count that the screen size is only 4.4" compared to the HD's 4.7" (but same resolution).

        The HD also runs Jelly Bean 4.1.2. So I don't get it either.
      • by gr8_phk (621180)
        Does the voice recognition happen on the phone, or in the cloud like Apple?
        • by phizi0n (1237812)

          More like "in the cloud LIKE GOOGLE." Google had voice search long before Apple ever did but Apple marketed it better and expanded it to do other things, Google Now expands the existing Android voice search to do other useful things like Siri does such as adding reminders/alarms. It is mostly cloud based voice recognition but you can use it to call people without a data connection though the local voice recognition is much worse and often wants to call the wrong person.

    • by theodp (442580) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:44PM (#44278679)

      Hey, what are you worrying about? If you speak no evil, it'll hear no evil. And if a future upgrade leaves the camera on all the time, just make sure it sees no evil! :-)

    • "...it tells you what you need to know even when you're not touching the screen..." And it tells the NSA everything else?

      • In the 1930s, a famous comedian/pundit (Will Rogers) said that one should "always speak in such a way that you would not be afraid to give your pet parrot to the town gossip." Maybe this is the parrot.

  • Battery Drain (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Internal Modem (1281796) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:13PM (#44278427)
    "a woman is shown asking Google Now what the weather will be like in Toronto while she types away on a computer, never having to reach down to tap the handset."

    That is the type of "feature" I immediately deactivate to conserve battery. Most features added by manufacturers these days seem like gimmicks where the drawbacks are greater than the benefits.
    • by Solandri (704621)
      Cue the "They're listening to everything you do in your home!" hate that enveloped the XBox One in 3... 2... 1...
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by spire3661 (1038968)
        DO you honestly think these things are coincidence? The US government is HEAVILY involved in current telecomm design. They are no longer suggesting, they are ORDERING networks to be built in specific ways to be easily tapped.
      • by symbolset (646467) *
        You will be glad to hear that Windows logo certification program in 2014 will include a webcam and microphone requirement.
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      When I'm working on my computer, my phone is usually plugged in, so that's not an issue. My guess is you can configure it to turn on and off under certain conditions (on while charging, on and off on a schedule, always off until you turn it on, etc.) My question is this: If she's sitting at a computer, why is she asking her phone what the weather will be like? Not that it doesn't demonstrate ease of use. It does that. But how about a demo where she's putting groceries in the car or doing something els

      • My question is this: If she's sitting at a computer, why is she asking her phone what the weather will be like?

        This is basically the "problem" I have with Google Now - it seems like you're giving them carte blanche access to all your information basically for a gimmick. I hear tech pundits rave about it - but I don't really see an advantage to having it volunteer weather info, sports scores, and the like. When I want to know those things, it's already trivial to check them. I don't want to be interrupted with unimportant factoids most of the time. With regards to appointments, the already-existing reminder systems o

        • I've had a few really neat moments thanks to Now. Besides the obvious birthday reminders, flight updates, etc. (which are great), it's told me a couple times about new albums releasing that day (which I didn't know about but was very interested in), and even that a new episode of Top Gear was scheduled for that night.

          This is a very promising area of technology - knowing about things you want to know without you having to ask - and I'm glad to see Google pursuing it.

          • by Nerdfest (867930)

            It also watches traffic conditions and notifies you if you should leave early for appointments, which is a pretty useful feature as well.

          • Birthday reminders? I've only had those on my computers for a decade or two.

        • You have hit the nail on the head here. What we need is an AI that "learns" what we (as individuals) consider important updates, and the rest of the gimmicks can go away (turn off). The biggest problem is that this hypothetical AI would possibly use more battery than just leaving everything on....
    • So the woman in the example is paying Canada's outrageous data plan fees for the privilege of doing something she could do on, you know, that computer-thingamabob in front of her.
    • Plus it kind of sucks if you have a stammer or other speech impediement.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      If you deactivate the feature without using it, how do you know how large the benefits and drawbacks are?

  • Advertising Budget (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pitchpipe (708843) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:14PM (#44278433)

    With a marketing budget said to include up to half a billion (!) dollars from Google, it's hard to imagine that any leaks are actually unintentional.

    Or this advertisement.

    • by BenJeremy (181303)

      You'd think with all those advertising dollars, they'd hire somebody not related to Aunt Bunny (Goony Goo Hoo) to promote the product. Those arms were hairier than mine!

  • These all seem like minor software updates for the next version of android.

    Where are the flexible screens, extended battery life and more internal storage?

    • by AuMatar (183847)

      You're complaining about minor upgrades and then mention more internal storage (which is about as minor as they come, its just dropping in a new part and testing). Extended battery life is really a matter of people choosing to prefer thin to life- increase the thickness 50% and devote it to a battery and you'd see a much better life. People don't tend to care (unfortunately).

      • by metrix007 (200091)

        I specifically said minor software updates, not just minor updates. There have been advances in battery design that allow a same size battery with a much increased capacity, adopting something like that in turn with the flexible screens would be a big improvement.

        Yes, increasing internal storage is minor, but it is a change people would appreciate more, especially since you can't use sd cards.

  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:26PM (#44278515)

    All I can see is yet another smartphone. Nothing in that video made me want to run out and buy one of these things. These smartphones are way more powerful than I need them to be which has resulted in ridiculous prices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by isopropanol (1936936)

      Seems an aweful lot like the exact specs of the Nexus 4, but with a slightly higher resolution camera on both sides. But Locked to a carrier. DO NOT WANT.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      All I can see is yet another smartphone. Nothing in that video made me want to run out and buy one of these things. These smartphones are way more powerful than I need them to be which has resulted in ridiculous prices.

      I'll wait for the price announcement but I'll be up for a new phone soon.

      I passed on the Nexus 4 because I had a Galaxy Nexus, the Moto "X" might be a decent upgrade if it:
      1) is competitively priced.
      2) has an unlocked bootloader.
      3) free of moto-blurgh.

      LTE would be nice, but not a deal breaker.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:29PM (#44278541)
    Exclusive to Roger's (and of course any spy agency that feels like listening to your calls).
  • by Frag-A-Muffin (5490) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:31PM (#44278557) Homepage

    Looks like my Nexus 4 ... with a Moto badge on it.

  • Avoid google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 14, 2013 @01:31PM (#44278559)

    Avoid google, avoid android, avoid microsoft windows phones. Both of these companies (Google and Microsoft) are the worst when it comes to sharing your data with the 3 letter agencies.

    Buy the Jolla phone when it becomes available or get yourself a Firefox OS phone. Yes, you may need to wait a little while, and yes, you may not get all the features you want, but it is about time we consider our rights and privacy above the next shiny thing.

    Vote with your dollars or else forego your right to speak about privacy and rights.

  • ... it's not Windows!

  • It's a design flaw using the touch screen as shuttle button, rather than a dedicated button on the edge of the phone. It means you can't take pictures one handed. Also, pushing the screen causes the camera to move slightly giving blurry photos.

    • Funny thing, I came to the exact opposite conclusion you did... maybe it's because you're "pushing" the screen? If you're using the same amount of force on the virtual button as you do on a physical one, you're using too much (unless your phone has a poor-quality touch sensor).

      On my iPhone 5 I don't need to firmly tap the virtual button, the barest touch will trigger it, meaning no additional motion gets added. Meanwhile, pressing a physical button can't help but introduce a lateral motion as it clicks, mak

  • No battery longevity and really for daily use wtf do I need a powerfull computer in my hand for. Yes internet seach i handy but the only other thing I need is a calculator.

    • by linuxguy (98493)

      Nobody is forcing you to use a smartphone. If you prefer dumb phones, there are a plenty of those still available. Many of us prefer smartphones because of the conveniences they offer. For example I use my Android phone for:

      1. Maps and navigation. I don't want to carry a second device for this. And I prefer the automatic updates, latitude (find out where my family members are) etc. etc.
      2. Email. I use it a lot. Personal and work.
      3. Web. Check if my flight is on time. Get quick answers on Wikiped

  • ...will it bring up a Google map showing the closest bathrooms [arstechnica.com]? :-)

  • Was a team Startac. They haven't been a player since then.

    • I still have one of those but the battery doesn't work. I always got a little squee moment when I remembered it was the same model Mulder used.

  • Superphone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @02:09PM (#44278859)

    >"Moto X Demo Video Reveals Google's Android Superphone"

    Superphone? Hardly. Compare to the HTC One/OneX/EvoLTE or the Samsung Galaxy S4/S3 or several other high-end models from other companies (LG, Sony) and it loses in most categories we know about so far.

    *Smaller display.
    *Lower resolution
    *Slower processor
    *Less storage (and I am assuming no SD slot either)
    *Few special features
    *No front speakers

    So it is a somewhat midrange phone by the already set high-end standards. And even LESS attractive if you find Google Now" creepy, and REALLY less attractive if you find a phone listening to you all the time and linked into Google, Google Now, and probably Google+ even more creepy. And what does listening all the time and using the main screen for notifications do to the battery life?

    It is nice to see Motorola getting back into the game, but let's not go ga-ga over the presented leaks because so far, they just don't look all THAT impressive. I am sure there is a market for a non BEASTLY phone, but this is not the "ultimate" phone, nor the solution for everyone (of course, no one phone is).

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Please do not conflate screen size with "superphone" status.

      If you want to count screen resolution, fine, though DPI would be an even better measurement. But not size.

      I've tried the Galaxy S4. It's too big for my hands. It's too big for my pocket. It was too big even to fit in the cup-holder in my car where i currently put my Nexus One.

      I was excited about the rumors i heard a few days ago that the Moto X was going to be a superphone in a smaller package. But now i am not only disappointed by the less
      • by markdavis (642305)

        >"Please do not conflate screen size with "superphone" status."

        Screen size is but just one factor among many (which I provided). Of course, screens are getting crazy big now, and not everyone wants a large screen. But it is not the typical hallmark of a high-end phone to be small right now.

        • by dfghjk (711126)

          The definition of a "high-end" phone, not that there is one, is not "large". This is your problem, not Motorola's.

          Yes, there is a race towards too large, too much screen resolution, too many cores, and too cluttered an interface. Along with it comes too poor battery life and bad usability (hallmarks of Android). It's possible for a phone to be "high-end" because it avoids those issues, not because it "me toos" them.

          This phone has a larger screen and greater resolution than an iPhone5. Only a fool would

        • by Daetrin (576516)
          You said it wasn't a superphone. You listed a number of reasons why you believe it isn't a superphone. One of those reasons was a small display size. Therefore you are conflating a large display size with superphone status, regardless of what other qualities you also require.

          Part of the reason large screens are a hallmark of the current set of superphones is because so many people view it as a requirement when it's really not. "It's not a superphone because a it doesn't have a large screen." and "It needs
    • I assure you, it will be the superphone when some tech journalist from Engadget picks it up at a bar...

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      LargestPhone != SuperPhone. Why stop with the "superphones" you mentioned when the Note3 embarrasses them all?

      It's nice to see an Android phone with saner dimensions. There's appeal in a 4.5" 720p display. 330 dpi is plenty, it's the same as the current iPhones.

      "Few special features" --- really stretching there to come up with criticisms. Worried?

      • by markdavis (642305)

        >"Few special features" --- really stretching there to come up with criticisms. Worried?"

        Worried??? Of course not. Want more examples?

        GS4 has temp and humidity sensors.
        Evo 3D has 3D display and cameras.
        Evo LTE has a kickstand and camera button.
        One has ultrapixels for better night vision.
        GS4 has "hover".
        Evo 3D & LTE and GS3 & 4 all have SD slots.
        Evo LTE, One, and One X all have HD voice.

        None of those are just software gimmicks, there is hardware behind it. I am sure there are many more, just pi

  • I really don't like the tying of software features to specific phones. Phone manufacturers really try to push it as they know it stratified the market whereas if all the software is the same standard Android platform you can compare phones easily. This is why Android is better value than iphone - it puts phone makers into competition and they don't like it.
    I take this even further by wanting Cyanogenmod on every phone I buy so it's familiar.

    As great as this software is I'm not going to buy into something th

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      I really don't like the tying of software features to specific phones. Phone manufacturers really try to push it as they know it stratified the market whereas if all the software is the same standard Android platform you can compare phones easily. This is why Android is better value than iphone - it puts phone makers into competition and they don't like it.

      I don't understand, Android pushing phone manufacturers to compete is exactly what drives the "feature market division" you're complaining about.

      As great as this software is I'm not going to buy into something that makes phones massively more expensive by dividing the market and also giving me less choice.

      That's the whole point of Android, to have the OEMs differentiate by adding exclusive features, alternatively Google could just make it closed source and give it away for free.

  • by anethema (99553)

    "The device boasts active updates, which translates into display notifications on the screen rather than a vague flashing LED that doesn't really tell you anything."

    Awesome. So instead of blinking a little LED to tell me the phone has gotten a message or something else of note, it leaves the screen lit up, wasting my VERY valuable battery life on these phones?

    "Moto X owners can activate the built-in camera with two quick flicks of the wrist."

    The phone getting jostled in my pocket activating the camera sound

    • by linuxguy (98493)

      We have not seen the phone. We have only learned of a few small details. It is too early to start making assumptions about things we don't know and start complaining.

  • by faffod (905810) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @02:55PM (#44279157)
    Being able to respond to voice commands requires the CPU to always be parsing audio input. That will have a noticeable, and negative, impact on battery life. When I want to look something up I am in a context switch already, pushing a button on my phone is not an inconvenience. What problem are they trying to solve?
    • What problem are they trying to solve?

      You have some money. They want it.

    • Well, obviously the problem is that people using their smartphones are too quiet and unobtrusive. We need to fix it so that smartphone users are much more annoying and distracting for everyone around them.

      Rumor has it they were originally going to make it gesture-based and instead of saying "Google" you'd jump up and do the "Macarena" for the phone's camera, but there was some kind of "Kinect"-related patent on "System and method for inducing users to make an ass of themselves in view of a camera to avoid

    • by linuxguy (98493)

      Your assumption that they are using the CPU to always listen and process wake up commands and hence use much battery power, is incorrect. Google is using special low power DSP for this that does not wake up the system until it hears the magic wake up command.

    • You're assuming Google and Motorola engineers are not as smart as you and so have obviously missed some critical issue that only you figured out just now. Good catch.

      If companies would just read the Slashdot comments then all the world's problems would disappear.

  • I've never managed to make voice input useful on my Android phone. The reliability is just much too low. I use three languages: Swedish, English and Japanese, and recognition fails all the time with all three of them, including my native Swedish. I end up doing mor ekeystrokes to correct the voice input than it would have taken me to simply type it in the first place.

    But what makes it worse is that it doesn't handle foreign words at all. Try to search for "Osaka" or "Watanabe" in English (or Swedish), and y

    • by linuxguy (98493)

      Some people have more success with voice input on Android than others. My wife and I both have Samsung Galaxy S4 phones. She uses voice input most of the time. It works well for her. I use the keyboard. It works reasonably well for me too, but the few times it does not, it annoys me.

      Do not chalk it up as a failure when it does not work well for people like you and I. There are too many others who like it and use it daily.

  • Whoever wrote the article or submitted it here on Slashdot must not be too heavily involved with Android devices or the news and specs going on...

    • by linuxguy (98493)

      S3 and other phones do not have this feature. The S3 does not listen for commands when the screen is turned off. And to the best of my knowledge no other phones at this time do this.

  • Why is this not the next Nexus 4? Why would Google create the Nexus brand, only to promote a Motorola phone as? Why would Google compete with themselves? Why does every Android phone have to have a slightly different set of features and OS versions? Why wouldn't touch-less voice be a part of every Jelly Bean phone?

    Would someone please send Google a big crate of Ritalin so maybe they can focus on one business strategy in the phone market that makes sense?

  • Apologies to everyone for my late arrival, but I note that no one seems to have picked up on the fact that this phone is only available in black and white!

    Clearly Motorola have some catching up to do with the likes of Appel and Sumsang.

    Could this be the reason they're only trying to sell it in Canadia?

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