Motorola's Punit Soni has been the public face of software for the company for some time now, especially with the launch of the Moto X and Moto G. This afternoon he took about a half-hour for a live Google Hangout as part of "Celebrating 50 Software Launches" to talk about where the company is in terms of software, how it got there, and just a few hints at where it might be going.

And that sort of chat is particularly interesting since Lenovo purchased Motorola from google earlier this year. We've got a quick summary of the big points, but we highly recommend watching the full video.

On future operating system updates

We're going to be very aggressive, as aggressive, about the next version of Android we have been with Android 4.4.2 and with KitKat. So stay tuned. You should have no cause for complaint on your side. As soon as Android releases something, we'll be on top of it.

On not clunking up the software experience

The core premise of the software strategy is making sure we have pure Android and that we can provide the best experience to the user. Basically pass many of the Google experiences directly to the user. We're going to continue with that.

We allow for pure Android. We have curated a certain list of experiences that we are going after. Those are areas of investment that over a couple of years will flower into fundamental ways that people use their phones. ... These are multi-year roadmaps with multiple things happening. ... We believe that it's actually carefully tuned with the Google experiences.

On what someone worried about specs should do with a Moto X or Moto G

Use it. That would be a good idea. This device has had phenomenal word of mouth. Everybody who uses it realizes that it's a fundamentally different way of using a device. ... Active Display? I can't imagine a phone without Active display anymore. ... These (changes) happen because of the kind of specs we have on the phone. i don't think a number is enough to show the value of the Moto X.

On adding Drive Mode to the Moto G

We want to make sure that all the power of that platform shows up on Moto G. Making sure to enable Drive Mode is part of that. It's not there yet, but it's in our plan to be.

On adding more Active Display features

It is in our ambition to add more capabilities. But we have to add it in a way that it does not have a negative power impact to the product. It should also be added in a way so that it doesn't duplicate everything that you have in the notification drawer. ... We want to do more, but we will not do it at the cost of user experience or battery.

On new boot animations

It's just a fun element. Maybe some of the inspiration is from the Google Doodles. It's something that we intend to bring up as a surprise to the user, at random, whimsical moments.

On future updates

Yes, it absolutely will. ... With the Moto X, we basically guarantee updates for a specific time, I think it's 18 months. Our goal, to be honest, is to just make sure you get the best of Android as far as possible. So any device we're going to work really, really hard to support it. The same goes for Moto G. And same goes for DROIDs also.

Plus, no plans on using twisting motions for anything but to launch the camera app, and some inside info on what it's like to be in this industry. Give the whole thing a look-see!


Reader comments

Summary: Motorola's Punit Soni on design, specs and software


I love my Moto X rocking KitKat. Moto may just make me brand loyal. I have had 2 HTC's, 2 Samsungs, 1 LG and the X is my first Moto. Like he says, I can't imagine a phone without Active Notifications.

Posted via Android Central App on my Republic Wireless Moto X

I don't have a Motorola smartphone, can someone enlighten me about active notifications?

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It is notifications that are pushed to your phone while your screen is off. The only lights that are on are specifically the pixels needed to present the notifications shown thanks to the OLED screen. This is used to save battery.

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You can actually download a free app that works similarly as active notifications called dynamic notification on the play store. I use it on my moto G.
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Does it immediately light up when you pull it out of your pocket or lift it up off the table? This is by far the most important part of the active display.

It was a great hangout. I got my question answered at the eight minute mark. Punit Soni is great.

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Punit Soni is wrong. He obviously doesn't read the forums here or he would realize that Lenovo buying Moto is the end of the Moto universe

Posted from my newly Kit Katted Droid Ultra

You mean, what people "think it's going to happen" has more weight then his insider perspective of what's going on.

These talks make me excited for the future. I just hate that there is so much uncertainty with the sell to Lenovo. Motorola could be a completely different company or even not exist at all in a year. Who knows? Only time will tell. Regardless, I will be watching eagerly and hoping for the best.

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I've owned three smartphones: the OG Droid, the Bionic, and now the Droid MAXX. All three were Motorola phones, obviously. All three had great radios, excellent call quality, nice build quality (other than the headphone jack), very little bloat, etc. There were pros and cons, for sure, but given the lag, bugs, BLOAT, BLOAT, BLOAT, TOUCHWIZ and build quality of Samsung's products, I couldn't bring myself to buy their crap. My ex has the S4, and she loves it, but it's only because she doesn't know any better. When I try to use her phone, my eyes bleed with all the busy-ness and weird fonts and horrible UI, and the lag makes me weep. Ugh.

Active notifications on the MAXX have changed my life. It's thin. It's sized perfectly. And the battery lasts FOREVER.

I hope Motorola/Google don't eff up a good product arc with the sale to Lenovo. Their phones have absolutely rocked lately. I've turned several people on to the Moto X, and they LOVE it. The snappiness, the size, the customization. And the G is so cheap and capable, anyone can have one.

Motorola is headed in the right direction for the first time since the OG Droid, and I'll be pretty f-ing sad if they fall apart now when they're on the brink of greatness.

Godspeed, Motorola. I wish you the best. I'm so happy with my MAXX, though, I won't be buying a new phone for a long time.

Some really good points there.

But I think it's also important to remember that in the case of the Bionic (and I guess, you could argue, the OG Droid), that was a Verizon phone made by Motorola. Whereas now (and this is the case for all the manufacturers at this point, thank the gods) you mostly get one version of the best they can deliver at that time.

Absolutely agree. I'm kind of stuck on Verizon where I live, and the Moto phones have usually been the best I could get for my needs, given my carrier limitation -- thus the OG Droid and Bionic -- and even the MAXX, I suppose -- though it's kind of an X on steroids, which I like even BETTER. So I guess I'm biased, and I'll admit that. But that's actually one of my points -- that Moto has kind of fledged from the VZW nest and made their latest excellent phones more available to everyone. Even you and others at AC have heaped mostly praise on Moto's latest hardware and software. They've even introduced some features that other companies envy (I assume). I like their new thirst for innovation and simplification and availability. You know WAY more about any of this than I do. I'm just a mostly casual user. But I feel like they were finally on an upward arc, and I hope the Lenovo deal doesn't change their trajectory.

Thanks for the reply. Please correct me if I don't know what I'm talking about. :-)

i think moto is going to inspire lenovo to make better products. i feel as if moto will have more influence and that everything will be moto glorified. just watch moto come out with better phones and brand new tablets in a year or so.

You have no idea how much I hope you're correct. HTC makes great phones, and they're foundering. Samsung makes mediocre products (in MY opinion), and they're dominating the Android industry. Every manufacturer lives on a knife edge in today's smartphone market. HTC lost mostly in the marketing arena. Moto lost for a while in a lot of ways and has made a bit of a comeback. The smartphone moon waxes and wanes. I've just always appreciated so many things about Moto's products, and I'm concerned that this huge fork in the road will lead them down the wrong path when they finally found a map, thanks to Google. I'm still thinking positive -- but preparing for disaster. :-)

Just got my Moto X today. Haven't had it long enough to come to any firm conclusions, but so far I like it. It's the first Android device I have used that's actually pleasant to use with one hand. I got mine with the ebony wood finish and blue accents, and I have to say it's quite the looker. But my favorite part has to be that it's like using a stock Nexus device. Hopefully Motorola doesn't get discouraged by the initial tepid sells of the Moto X
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In addition to loving Active Notifications, I would really hate to go back to not having the twist-to-launch camera feature. I use it so much on my X and its usefulness far outshines the addition of Blur and Photosphere in the recently updated Google camera that I hardly ever use.