Last week, Motorola announced its new flagship handset, the Moto X, and it includes some sweet new features. We don’t even have a release date for the phone in Australia yet, but you can duplicate some of the functionality right now.
While the Moto X hasn’t been turning many heads for its specs, it does offer some nifty software features. Those features are handy when combined, but in many cases they’re not unique. Here are some of the things the Moto X promises that you can do right now.
Get Active Notifications On AMOLED Devices
AMOLED-based displays have the unique ability to only light up certain pixels. The Moto X utilises this to display notifications on your lockscreen on a black background so that you can see what needs your attention while using minimal battery power. Fortunately, some benevolent developers have brought similar functionality to the Play Store with ActiveNotifications.
At the moment, the app requires Android 4.3 which means it’s out of reach for nearly all Android devices outside the Nexus line. Even then, only the Galaxy Nexus has an AMOLED display that will actually result in better battery life. However, the developer is working on bringing it to more devices, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Launch Apps With A Flick Of Your Wrist
Another neat Moto X trick is the ability to launch the camera app by shaking your phone a little. For this, you can grab Twisty Launcher from the Play Store. The app allows you to set specific apps to launch when you perform certain gestures with your phone.
Unlike the Moto X, it’s not limited to just launching the camera app, nor is it tied down to a single gesture. By default, you can “chop” twice to launch the camera, but there are also two motions you can perform that will activate apps of your choosing. You can even customise the chopping gesture and choose whether it will activate at the lock screen or not.
Read Text Messages Aloud And Respond While Driving
Motorola also introduced a simplified new app for getting things done while driving: Motorola Assist. It automatically detects certain circumstances and alters your phone’s behaviour. While you can accomplish much of the time-based or location-based actions with Tasker, assistant app previously-covered Robin is a great way to receive and respond to messages while you’re out and about.
The app runs in the background and can be triggered by waving your hand in front of the display. It’s not entirely as hands-off as the Moto X’s always-listening mode, but it does allow conversation-style voice commands so you can instruct it to read you a text message and then transcribe a response without touching your phone. Given that texting behind the wheel is illegal, this is a much better solution.
Inevitably, not everything the Moto X can do is available on other devices. For example, the phone is able to listen for voice commands at all times, even when the phone is off. As one engineer explains, this is only possible due to extra processing cores that offload the burden to prevent battery drain. Until a developer figures out a way around this (or just releases a version that has the feature, battery-be-damned), it probably won’t show up on many other phones. Between that and the customisable hardware, there are still reasons to look at the Moto X, but most of the clever features are already available.
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