Over the past few years, most smartphone manufacturers have been engaged in a specs war in an effort to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market. With each new launch, smartphones has become thinner, lighter and faster. But while smartphones have become more powerful, they haven’t necessarily become smarter.
Two weeks ago, Motorola officially unveiled the Moto X, the first new smartphone that the company has developed since being acquired by Google in 2011. And while some have criticised the Moto X for shipping with what they consider to be “mid range” specs, Motorola is betting their success on providing customers with a smarter user experience.
This smarter experience is powered by the Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System, an 8 core processor that has two cores dedicated to natural language and contextual computing. This allows the Moto X to always be listening for a specific phrase (in this case, the incredibly catchy “Ok Google Now”) that activates Touchless Control.
Through Touchless Control, the Moto X benefits from deep integration with Google Now – one of the smartest and most useful of Google’s services that will soon be baked into the Chrome browser and Google Glass. Without even touching the phone, Moto X owners will be able to make phone calls, send messages, ask questions, perform web searches, navigate and so much more.
Like most smartphones, the Moto X also features a number of contextual sensors. It will know when it’s in your pocket and when you might be able to see the screen so that it can show you subtle notifications. It knows when you are driving and will automatically alert you to incoming calls and read new messages – all through Touchless Control.
What makes the Moto X so special is that it is able to power these various sensors and processes in a highly efficient way. Motorola claims the Moto X offers 24 hours of battery life…which is pretty impressive if these claims are true.
Another aspect of the Moto X that Motorola has focused on is customisation. Consumers will be able to customise their Moto X by choosing from a wide range of colours for the back plates and accents of the phone. Later in the year, Motorola will even be offering a variety wooden options to choose from.
Many have seen this focus on customisation as a move to appeal to average consumers and not just spec-obsessed Android nerds. This is actually pretty ironic, as Touchless Control is probably geekier than anything you’ll find on other Android phones like the Samsung S4 and the HTC One.
While the Moto X is not a perfect phone, I’m incredibly excited to see how Motorola will progress with their future products. Personally, I’ll be shocked if the next Nexus smartphone isn’t a Motorola device that sports similar features to the Moto X.
Specs will always be important, but currently there is no shortage of great smartphones on the market. Manufacturers might use software to differentiate their products but this will be harder than it sounds. For example, the majority of the added software features on the Samsung Galaxy S4 clutter up the phone, while the software features on the Moto X are minimal and could be genuinely useful.
The smartest bet for manufacturers moving forward might just be focusing on building smarter smartphones.