Shared publicly  - 
MotoX: the game-changing "over the freaky line" smartphone

OK, I just got released from my NDA. 

There are lots of places to catch the details. I'll have more to say on +The Next Web later, but I'm sure that http// is gonna be full of the specs and everything.

For me, I'm buying one of these phones (Google is giving me an AT&T version, but I hate AT&T, and will get the Verizon one, which, unfortunately won't have one of the coolest features: the ability to customize the colors in a huge variety of ways).

Now, let's get to the heart of the matter.

This thing listens to you. "Well, duh, Scoble, so does Siri on iPhone!"

Um, no, I mean it listens to you FULL TIME. The microphone is always on. You tell it "OK Google Now" and then say something like "Nativigate to the Golden Gate Bridge." 

This is going to be the most controversial new feature released in the last 10 years. Non stop. Imagine Microsoft doing this. No way. Keeping the microphone open all the time? Wow, that's WAY over the freaky line but makes for a killer feature. 

No longer do you have to push a button to get your phone's attention. This makes using it in the car a real joy (and will help save you from a very expensive ticket. $250+ in California just for looking at your phone or holding it in your hand).

The use of sensors doesn't stop there, either. Pull the phone out of your pocket and shake it back and forth and it is ready to take a photo. "Who cares, Scoble, I can get to my camera's button easy anyway." 

Well, that feature lets you go from pocket to photo in about two seconds. Doing that on my iPhone, or Samsung S4, takes more than three and often takes a LOT longer than that. I find I miss a lot of cool m oments because of that. 

Google Glass takes images in less than one second, but you gotta be a dork to wear those around (we'll talk about that next year when Google Glass comes out). These images were all shot on Google Glass, by the way. I'm not worried about being a dork, but I know lots of you are worried about wearing something on your face all day long.

Anyway, there's more. Made in USA. Custom colors. A screen that is always on and always ready to show you info without touching a button. And more. 

This phone is gonna freak you out. But I already love it. Boom.

On the Next Web I'll talk about what this means for the market. Quick analysis: it won't hurt Apple. At least not short term. Android still isn't ready to really take on Apple head on. There's still lots of potholes on Android (my phone, yesterday, made me reboot it just to make a phonecall, something Apple never does).

But it does keep Microsoft and Blackberry from getting my attention. Those two companies simply aren't able to "go over the freaky line" to bring new contextual features like Google is willing to do. 

By the way, this phone feels nice in my  hand. Something that my Samsung S4 doesn't (it's too big, although I like the Samsung's screen and put up with the feel in my hand because of that). The screen on Motorola isn't quite as high a resolution as Samsung, so Samsung fans will probably stick with it unless the freaky features get you (the camera is better on the MotoX).

Anyway, go read +The Verge and get all the down and dirty.

The photos here are ones I shot when +Guy Kawasaki invited me for a neat preview a few weeks back. 

Oh, I must apologize to Guy. He made it very clear that I wasn't to talk about the event at all. I shot +Daria Musk out on the lawn and I didn't realize that one of the Motorola Execs took a photo during that concert with his MotoX. Bad Scoble. Bad.

Google went all out: you'll love the names of the folks who was at that top secret meeting on the stairs. 
birger monsen's profile photoMike Knowles's profile photoHandstand Yeti's profile photoDaft As's profile photo
+Robert Scoble They've definitely made some interesting moves with this phone. However, they gotta come out with the Play editions and they need to put out a bit more information on whether or not this will be supported like a Nexus type device (bootloader able to be unlocked, updates supported as well as a google play edition). Not only that but what is the off-contract price when it comes down to it.

I.e., is this Google's latest Nexus as far as their concerned?
I'm hoping you've got something new about this up your sleeve. 4.2.2, $199 on contract like every other carrier phone out there... hardly game-changing.
What phone made you reboot to make a phone call??
Your hype this morning was waaaaaaay overblown. This is a major letdown when you consider all the rumors.
The colors and nice and it looks like a great phone but I don't see any reason (yet) to sell my Nexus 4 and get this. Unless the Google Play edition is $249 and $299 I'll wait for the Nexus 5. 
Can the 'microphone always on' reliably be disabled? If not, I will have to start asking people in my vicinity to turn their Moto Xs off.
I'm interested to see what Motorola will do with the Moto X and Android 4.3 since that provides official notification access.
Waiting to hear more, but so far I don't see a ton to be impressed by. 
MotoX doesn't ship with latest Android?
Tough luck. I will not allow it. Plain as that. Same with Google Glass, of course. My privacy, my rules.
I wonder if the "always on mic" is something App developers will be allowed to tap into. Could Shazam constantly tell me about the audio nearby? I wonder how open this will be for devs. Thanks for sharing!
I'm fine with the software and hardware, but the rest is... disappointing. Want to customise? Sure, you can customise everything... so long as you buy from this one carrier for now. Want it off contract? Sure, just not right now either.
+Stefan Momma Well then in 3 years you better not ever leave your house, because devices like this will be common place. That's the whole point of a contextual world where computers are your "assistants" - without an "always on" element it simply doesn't work. 
ubik q
The Nexus 7 is pretty exciting to think about as a device but this is just another phone.
Google has a long history of pushing the envelope in regards to privacy. The more they push, the more users seem to trust them. Interesting.
An always listening phone is a novel concept, especially if it works as advertized, but it is still not enough of a killer feature to get someone like me (entrenched iOS user) to switch.
I like how much of a cheerleader you can be for more and better technology, but I'm afraid these features are not going to ignite too much consumer response. The "always on" is I agree a major push forward, but still. Not enough I think. 
+Robert Scoble Do you happen to know the off-contract price? That's the real deal-breaker for me. I love the "always on" feature, but if it's more than $350 I might just wait for the Nexus 5...
Always Listening is pretty cool, but I think the whole voice command usually lets this tech down, how often does Siri get what you want wrong, Dragon Dictate is good but by no means flawless and don't get me started on Mercedes In Car Voice Commands - do you know when it going to be released in the UK, still think I will wait for the Nexus 5 
I hope the Google Play edition keeps the moto modifications, I'm a big fan of the UX enhancements added. If the off contract price is not too high then this will be a win for domestic manufacturing and a definite purchase for me.
Yeah I'm quite let down with the carrier only option right now. 
The customization and the 32 GB exclusiveness for at&t sucks! :/
I would be wondering how the battery life will handle having so much powered up at the same time. Will you be able to get a full day out of it with out a spare battery? Other than that it sounds like a solid product.
I was really hoping for some Glass integration. Having multiple device sensors communicating could make for some interesting scenarios. I guess it's too early.
 How'd you jump from Glass being the biggest thing since ever to "you have to be a dork"?
Also, according to the Verge:

"And most of the X’s features are shared by the new Droids announced last week.

Chief among those features is always-on voice recognition..."

Your earlier comment disputes this.

cc: +Mario II Valenzuela 
Can it be hijacked by rogue voices similar to Glass? 
+Stefan Momma your privacy in YOUR territory, being your home, your office, and even then, tell that to the NSA. 
+Robert Scoble Thanks. I'm pretty dead set on Droid Maxx for battery life, but that feature is one of particular interest. Almost everything I've read clearly specifies it's included on the Droids.
+Stefan Momma That attitude is acceptable only in an environment that you control, such as your home, or perhaps a private office. Elsewhere ... get accustomed to this technology. It is not going to go away.
I will say that this iPhone guy is starting to feel the pull of Google's gravity.  Google Now is really useful.
The achilles heal of any mobile device is the data carrier. The quality of the data carrier is more important than the device's spec.

Pricing a phone "On Contract" is not a game changer. It's the same tired game.
I am feeling really let-down.  We kept hearing that something was game-changing in this phone, but I am not seeing it.  Same sensors as the new Droids.  Not really a great price off-contract.  Customizations exclusive to ATT. Not even the latest Android.  What is the special part of this phone?
I've never been a big fan of talking to my devices. The HTC One still looks like a more appealing upgrade from my Galaxy Nexus.
I'm sorry, did you miss the Droid announcement last week that had all of the same features that you're excited about? I read earlier about you ignoring the leaks to avoid arguing with people about it, but that was an official press event from Motorola and Verizon.
+James Karaganis and it extends into the workplace (I work in a research lab, and we will see rules on the prohibited use of these devices pop up very quickly). So the absence of a 'turn this mode off' option is an issue. And yes, of course, there are environments that I do control. Same rules.
I use my S Voice on my Galaxy S3 for Always ON and it listens to all of my commands while driving...this isn't anything new or am I missing something?
+Robert Scoble  Just heard from the Verge that the ATT model is going to have the ATT Address book, not Android's, and that it is not removable.  

Seriously, what does the X have that the Droid Maxx does not?  How is THIS phone in particular the game-changer?  Please tell me there is something about that chip that makes it all magic.
FWIW +Robert Scoble Windows Phone gets you pocket to camera as quick if not quicker. Just hold down hardware camera button for a couple of seconds and SNAP. But you're right, Google is light years ahead of Apple and Microsoft on context, though Nokia is doing some cool things with Here Maps. Not nearly as much as Android though. I love Google Now on my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7, but I prefer the stability of Windows Phone for my daily driver. Not nearly the same experience random reboot wise like you talked about. I'll stay tuned to TNW later.
The device itself looks great, the very standard pricing and the exclusivity on customizations are a painful reminder that this is still Motorola though.
This "always on" tech is not cool with me.  too many things are taking the liberty with "seeing" or "hearing" what is going on around me. All this NSA listening to calls and the like gurantees me NOT to want anything that is always on that someone can tap into and get live video/audio feeds
Who cares?  Unless you're doing something wrong, it doesn't matter.  Like they can't see everything that you buy, where you go, etc. anyway.

If they want to listen to me watch tv and yell at my rabbit, hope they have fun.
+Darryl Griffith I'm cool with it because, like it or not, I assume that the NSA are always listening to telephone conversations as is.  At least moto is being honest about it.

If you want to so something shady, don't buy a moto phone.  :'D
+Darryl Griffith Then don't buy it, or any future technology with that capability. It's generally a very tiny fraction of people that are bothered by this kind of thing; everyone else appreciates the utility and skips wearing the tin foil hat.

Frankly, you'll probably need to stop buying smartphones and similar devices in the next 5 to 10 years and go live in the woods if you want to avoid this stuff completely. It might well become as common as having a Facebook or Google+ account is today. If not more common and more widely-accepted.
With an always-on screen, though, what about accidental input? I keep my phone in my back pocket, almost always. Don't need any rogue butt dials or opening apps as I pull it out of my pocket.
Over hyped. I'm more excited about the Nexus 7. Once the LTE version is released, I'll be using it as my phone.
Are there any statistics available regarding the battery performance? How does it handle e.g. a whole day of websurfing and G+, maybe including a total of an hour of YouTube videos? My old Nexus 7 barely lasts 14h under those conditions, can Moto X beat that despite its sensor suite?
Andy P
No international release, eh. Although they have some more devices in the 'family' (read: neither as interesting or as good) which they can't talk about that they will release sometime, somewhere down the road. Maybe. By which time we'll have a new iPhone, a new Samsung phone, a new... and nobody will care.
+Philippe Timothee Google has said over and over again that there's a deliberate separation between them and Motorola. Partners would get very nervous if Motorola was seen to have an advantage over other OEMs.
+Robert Scoble Every cool moto x feature, except for customization, are on the new droid phones that were  recently announced. The always-on listening, the sensors, the flip gesture to activate camera, the active display for alerts, battery life, all of it. That only leave the customization as the only real difference, and that's only available on AT&T. If you're already on Verizon, then the moto x doesn't offer anything more than the new droids do. If, however, you're on another carriers that won't have the new droids, then the moto x is the only option if you want those new features. As for the customization, you could always change up the look of your phone with cases or skins (if you don't like the added bulk of cases).
+Robert Scoble If you're talking about the Active Display feature, where it blinks your alerts on-screen, they do have it.  They demonstrated it at the droid event. Videos of tech bloggers demonstrating it. They also demo the always-listening. It recognizes your voice, so that, unlike  Google glass, someone else can't activate your device. I saw a video demo of the voice recognition working.
Another important point for the folks who are worried about the "always listening" feature. Every mobile phone in existence already has the ability to have its microphone remotely activated and be used as a wire tap. Law enforcement and the intelligent community have demonstrated this before on television news programs.
As for the moto x and droids' "always listening feature, it's only listening locally (not connected to Google Now), and only listening for the keyword, or "hotword" to be spoken. It has one processor dedicated to this. Only after its local processing detects the keyword (and your unique voice if you want) will it then enable Google Now's voice search/command function, which is connected to the internet. This is demonstrated in the video I linked to above around the 3 minute mark.
I genuinely don't believe this phone will be a 'game changer' - Motorola's marketing team are just not good enough unfortunately (and neither is the phone in my opinion). The best marketing this phone has had - is specifically your posts... labelling the phone as a game-changer... Which created quite a stir, lots of cross-platform conversation and general brand engagement.

I know they didn't pay you for these posts, but maybe they should have.
I dunno. After having Glass for about a week now I'd take wearing it to certain places over whipping my phone out. Mainly places where I know moments with the family could pop up.

The always on mic is very interesting but I just don't know if its that amazing. Not saying its not useful as I'd use it all the time. It just seems to me that they didn't do anything with it that the other OEMs couldn't do with maybe an update. I'd seen an article talking about what it would take to leave a mic open as a part of a malware app and it didn't drain that much battery. I guess I was looking for this all to be coupled with an unbelievable price. But it still seems like a great phone.
I'd prefer "Microphone On When I Most Likely Need It". For example, if the sensors detect that the phone is traveling more than 15 mph, then assume I'm in my car and turn on the microphone. Not perfect or foolproof, but a lot better than "Always On", which seems problematic for many of the reasons already stated here.
If you do not cherish your battery life you can turn on Siri's "lift to talk" option, then it uses the proximity sensor to turn Siri on automatically. No button needed.
Incidentally, I'm pretty happy with my current Droid Razr Maxx HD, and the new Droid Maxx is on my shortlist for an upgrade sometime next year.
Personally, I have no problem with always on or even always recording.

At least as long as they prevent lawyers from taking things out of context.

What I have no desire for is to talk to my devices. Talking is hard.
I really understand that the always listening microphone is the key "killer" feature, but as u write it, it really makes sense in the car. Calling someone and the phone lays on the table? Not really the daily use case. Or adding something to the calendar, note etc. ? If you are too busy to hold the phone for a minute than do it later. If you're busy on a tablet, PC, laptop than open a browser tab a thank cloud computing.

As some data concerns arise it's far more interesting for me to know what google saves on their server? I'm sure in 2-3 years there will be some investigation, e.g. Google scanning mail content, google saving wifi spots during street view shots or Apple creating User profiles based on connected wifi spots, base stations etc.
+Stefan Momma There is a huge difference between the device looking for a phrase and it sending out everything that it hears for potential recording.
Are we really so self consumed that we're beginning to care about how many "seconds" it takes for our phone screens to wake up ?

Why would anyone want their phone's microphone to be on ALL OF THE TIME??? So, potentially, EVERYTHING you do could be recorded ? Why ? Because you're too lazy to pull out the phone, PRESS A BUTTON, and THEN speak ?

Jesus...this is laughable the level of laziness here.

I am all for technology that improves live, hearing impaired, etc...transmission of information, etc...but, this is like saying, "we've invented a refrigerator that you never have to close!!!" Why? Because who wants to waste time and effort opening a door?

Next, a car that records everything you do ?

Why on Earth anyone wants this to become mainstream is beyond me. As if nobody is paying attention to what is going on in the News....

I am's absurd.
I can't understand what all the hype is about.  The Moto X is not a revolutionary device.  I love all the new features they've implemented here like always listening for commands and the new way to start the camera app (already seeing reviews that this is spotty at best), but really, this is nothing groundbreaking and not worth all the hype ESPECIALLY at the $200 price-point with contract.  Google chromecast is a more revolutionary product than this damn phone.  Let's be honest here... Most long time android users will see this as a crying shame.
I don't really see why anyone with Verizon would get the Moto X over either of the (same/similarly priced) new Droids (Ultra or Max) They have the same exact features (with additional ones that the X doesn't have like wireless charging), they're moto phones also, but they're simply better versions of the X with more storage capacity, screen real estate and better battery life (Max).

When the only feature that distinguishes you from other phones is "interchangeable face-plates" I have scratch my head and ask "really?". Wooden back-plates are Moto's killer feature?

If you're not on Verzion then it's another story "feature wise" in terms of always listening and allocating resources efficiently, but on Verizon moto beats itself with better moto's - their very own droid line.
A big feature that will keep me away from this phone is the lack of Enterprise security features. Samsung has a good package of add one that my Enterprise requires on Android phones. Until Android has adopted those features it will continue to be an Apple and Samsung race. That said, I'd love to get the AT&T version of the Moto X and see how it compares to my Samsung Galaxy S3. I'd also like to challenge my Enterprise Security team on why they won't support anything but Samsung...
We're talking about features that carry HUGE implications for everyone...namely, privacy.

I know, Robert, "what is Privacy anymore. .!!?!"

It doesn't take a Genius to illustrate what happens you have ALL Phones constantly recording/"listening" 24/7. You know as well as I do that this "Stream" of data will be valuable to someone...Always.

I like being able to capture the cute things my nephew and niece do, but I don't NEED every single one of those moments captured for it to be special, or memorable. Life doesn't need to be captured to be valuable.

The value is in the moment itself, not afterward. And this is a poor justification for luring people into adopting a feature that has such huge implications.

I love what you do, +Robert Scoble , I'm not out looking for a smear campaign, but I find this proselytizing irresponsible when what needs to accompany such enthusiasm is education for those that need it the most. Namely, those people who are not tech savy like yourself, and need more knowledge to make an informed decision.
You were right +Robert Scoble this phone has sparked a lot of paranoia.  What people probably don't realise is that this phone isn't listening in the conventional sense.

* First, all the listening is done in hardware.  

* You can't customise the phrase.  Which indicates the hardware is listening in a very abstract way for a very specific audio sequence. Five syllables.  It doesn't try to convert the speech to text or otherwise discern any semantics from the audio as that would be a ridiculous waste of battery.

* You can tune it slightly to match your voice.  That's probably more to catch the right pitch/tone.  It's still listening for the same audio pattern.

* It would be listening over a very short rolling time interval, likely 5 seconds or so.  I bet it would fail as soon as you dragged your words out.  So it can't remember any of the audio it's heard.

* It would not be saving any of the audio to disk or system RAM or streaming it anywhere, again that would be a ridiculous waste of battery.

* Any software that even tried to interface or snoop on this listening would be outed straight away.  Again, the battery drain would be obvious.  That's if it even managed to get pass Google's Gatekeeper.
I can get to my camera quite easily on my Nexus 4. Take out of pocket, wake up the device, swipe to the left. Three steps that take probably around 5 seconds or less.
+Robert Scoble Well, I don't have a kid. That's why I think 5 seconds is enough. I just checked with my Nexus 4 and it's around 5 seconds.
+Chris Parker I'm not a picture guy to begin with. It's just that for what I do need, 5 seconds is okay. But of course it would be better if it was faster.
+Robert Scoble the sony xperia phones use a long press on the shutter button to activate the camera. 1.5s. I agree that the speed to get at your camera can be very important, and i do find the long-press xperia way works fine. I am not certain how much shaking the phone will ruin the motive when trying to get that shot of children or animals.

My BIG questing is: what is so special about the moto x compared to the droid maxx/ultra/mini? I don't care about the 'made in usa', as any moto x delivered here will probably be made in china anyway. the colors are nice , but no deal breaker. They are all "X8 mobile computing system" based, meaning always-on. Can any of your moto buddies explain what really sets the moto x apart from the other 3?
Does anyone know if an American bought one will work over here?
+birger monsen The Sony Xperia Z (Ultra) models (which is where the development is) don't have a shutter button, at least as far as I know. Looking at my phone I don't see one.
+Kim Nilsson my xperia s has it. it's a pity if it has been removed. but physical buttons break, i guess.
Personally I think having the mic on 24-7 is way too creepy. Poor timing with the recent NSA scandal too. I'm sure there's a market for those who don't care. After all, no one seemed to mind buying an iPhone with an AT&T contract back when they were exposed for giving their users' phone calls and Internet surfing to the NSA.
+birger monsen yup, I miss it too. It exists on Xperia ZR, so it can film and take pictures under water. It could be they will reconsider and put it back on future models.
+Karma Bennett afaik the always on mic uses a dedicated low-power processor that only listens for the 'wake-up' phrase and then wakes up the phone. i think it is impossible to use that processor for eavesdropping. the phone would have to be completely awake all of the time for that.
+Kim Nilsson the zr is on my shortlist as i am looking for a new phone. i may wait and see what sony are about to announce. the new droids may also be the ones i am looking for.
Interesting as, I keep writing/saying this, the Moto X is my next phone, period. (Ha, two contiguous periods.)

The fact that one can feel a dork, techie or not,  wearing Google Glass means that its not ready for general release in its current form, wonderful colours and functionality or not. 

The fact you have to wear a headset in the first place is one thing, but that it is overly evident to others is another thing. I think that its components need to be further compacted into a hair's width and very thin frame with just the glass pieces being more evident (as would be commonly expected). 

I say two, not just one, to give impression of normality plus not everybody's right eye is adequately functional.

Thus, meaning that the output should be channelled to the best eye via the frame or wireless methods as opposed to left and right models. In such a tight housing space, the privacy issues notification i.e. light signalling can still be done compactly using fibre optics.
Anyone heard anything about how the MOTO X fairs when it comes to water resistance or it being dropped? That's one thing I was expecting there to be details about when it comes to this phone!
Steve Jobs would have said: Don't wet it, don't drop it, and to accomplish both, hold it like this.
Add a comment...