Inside the new Moto app, home to most of the cool Moto X features

All of your favorite features are back on the Moto X, this time housed in a single app

On one level, not too much has changed in the 2014, insofar as the software is concerned. You still have the hotword voice actions, you still have the peeking notifications, and Motorola Assist is still on board, with its bevy of cool features.

New with the 2014 Moto X is that they've all been moved under a single umbrella app, simply called "Moto."

Let's take a quick walk around the new space to get our bearings.

Moto app 2014

Pretty much all the cool custom features that are in the Moto X live in the Moto app. This is where you'll come to set them up, and it's where you'll go if you want to change something. Here's what you'll be working with:

  • Moto Assist
  • Moto Actions
  • Moto Voice
  • Moto Display

What's more is that each of these features is independently updatable. (In fact, on the review unit Moto X we're using, most everything has been updated already. You might well have to do the same with your Moto X when you first get it.) Motorola can update Assist without having to update Display at the same time. Or it can update Voice without having to update Actions. You get the drift. These basically are all separate apps that also live within a single "Moto" app.

One trick here: To get to all of these things, you'll need to hit the settings gear in the top right once you launch the Moto app. That just feels a bit off, but for now it's the way it is.

Let's run through them, one by one:

Moto Assist

Moto Assist

This is probably one of the best apps of the past year. It's home to four indispensable features, which we'll break down thusly:

  • Sleeping: This perhaps is still the best do-not-disturb implementation we've seen. It's pretty standard on most phones now, but Motorola makes it simple. In fact, it's turned on by default, turning off the display's "breathing" feature (wherein it flashes the time and notifications periodically) between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. You can change the hours to whatever you want. You also can opt to silence the phone while DnD is active, but you can tell the Moto X to still let your favorite contacts come through, or if someone calls twice within five minutes.
  • Driving: This one's meant to help you keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel. There are two options here: Read text messages and incoming calls aloud, and to automatically fire up your music player of choice. The Moto X automatically kicks on Driving mode when it thinks you're driving, using the car's motion as well as the ambient sound. (It also works when you're in an airplane, taxiing to the runway.)
  • Home: This is one of the newer features, and basically it's the same as drive mode. When the Moto X sees that you're at home — you have to supply the address — it'll read incoming text messages aloud, as well as announce incoming callers. The idea is that you won't have to always have your phone in your pocket. On the other hand, there might be times you don't want your text messages announced to anyone within earshot. User beware.
  • Meeting: This feature hooks into your calendar — and you get to pick which ones it uses — and then silences your phone during meeting times. It also can auto reply to missed calls from your favorites. And you can customize those replies. "Hi, I'm going over my TPS reports. See you on Saturday, OK?"

Moto Actions

Moto Actions

Action combines a handy trick from last year's model and adds a couple new features. They're all turned on by default, so if you use them you don't actually ever have to venture into this part of the Moto app. But there also are some handy tutorials here.

First is the new "Wave to silence." The new Moto X has four infrared sensors on the front of the phone. If you get a call you don't want to take, or if your alarm goes off, all you have to do is wave your hand over the phone to silence it. Motorola recommends keeping your hand about 6 inches above the display, and in our use this has worked pretty well. (We also might occasionally mutter to ourselves "You will be quiet now.")

Then there's the old wrist double twist to launch the camera app. Turn your hand twice as if you were turning a doorknob, and your camera app launches. It's a really handy (sorry!) way launch the camera as you're pulling the phone out of your pocket. It also works from within an app.

And then there's the "Approach" option. This uses those IR sensors to detect when your hand (or face, or whatever) is coming toward the phone, it'll automatically flash the clock and any notifications that are waiting. Previously you'd have to jostle the phone a bit. This is a great addition.

Moto Voice

Moto Voice

This is the setup process for the expanded voice actions — previously called "Touchless Control" in the new Moto X. In last year's model, you could only officially have the phone wake up if you said "OK, Google Now." That wasn't a whole lot of fun, and it got to be a little confusing because Google basically adopted that same phrase for its hotword. Now you can pretty much use any phrase you can think of. (Yes, that means you can call your phone dirty names and have it do your bidding. We've tried.) And it's not just "OK, whatever." You can change up the phrasing a bit. The phone will tell you if your phrasing is too short — "Yo, Phone!" doesn't work too well, for example — and help guide you through the process. It's a fun little way to customize things.

Moto Display

Moto Display

This is the new name for last year's "Active Display," and it refers to the flashing clock and notifications you'll get on the screen without actually having to touch the power button or anything.

You've got a few options here. You can choose to turn it off altogether, if you want. You also can choose which apps you want to show notifications here. Or you can choose to have Display hide notification details while you're using a screen lock. And finally you can choose to have the phone vibrate when you touch a notification to expand it. (That's turned on by default.)

One last thing ...

Finally there are settings for the Moto app itself. You can choose to have it show the current activity in the status bar, as well as let the phone learn your habits — say, when you stop using it and go to sleep for Sleeping mode — and you can chose to opt back out of Motorola's privacy policy (which you would have had to approve to have gotten this far) and reset all of this back to stock.

All in all, very nice updates and additions to some of our favorite features of the past year.

One more last thing ...

Note that if you're using the 2014 Moto G, Moto Assist is still its own application. But you do have Drive Mode now, which is a big thing.

Phil Nickinson
  • Still waiting for them to turn on location bases actions, that was the bomb in smart actions, they act like its coming back sometime relatively soon... I always wondered why they took it away when they made this new platform. Maybe it was battery hog, but I don't remember it really being one. Posted via Android Central App
  • Still waiting on the actual review! Been checking every few hours every day for the last week or so. You guys will be one of the last sites to have your review posted. I ordered the phone on Friday and I really want AC's opinion on the phone so I can feel 100% confident in my purchase.
  • It's written. Probably will be up tomorrow. Posted via Android Central App
  • Thanks Phil!
  • Phil, I'm coming off Galaxy S4... Is new moto X camera better or comparable to that? Posted via Android Central App
  • You really need someone else's opinion to feel confident about a device you already bought?
  • I do rely on what the reviews say before I buy a device, yes. There are a few sites whose reviews I really trust, with AC being one of them, and I heard enough to feel comfortable already ordering the phone without their review. Just saying it would have been nice to have earlier.
  • If I had just paid over $500 for a device and hadn't used it yet, I'd probably feel a lot better after hearing that a respected source said it was worth buying.
  • Very interesting to see this. I want the review from Phil of the Moto X. I am guessing the new Droid will be out of my budget but then again I maybe wrong.
  • Is this app exclusive to Moto X or can I get it on the Moto G as well?
  • Read the very last part of the post? Posted via Android Central App
  • Is this going to happen for the 2013 Moto X as well? Also wondering which of the new moto x software features in general will be making it to the previous model Posted via Android Central App
  • They say they will back port the features ss long as the hardware support it.
  • Please for the love of god what will it take for Moto to get this app in the Play Store and work on all phones? We know now it doesn't need a special cpu, all recent Snapdragon SoC's support this.
  • Do you have strategically placed IR sensors in your phone?! Posted via Android Central App
  • They won't, if they do it will lose the value of their phones, I wouldn't mind paying $100 for them as a full suite though.
  • That's a really good point, I wonder if they'd consider that. Maybe not quite that much, but I'd pay a good $50 for that on top of, say, a Oneplus One. So ideal.
  • Which features are you looking for in particular? There are several apps in the play store that will do many of these features. At least the ones that aren't hardware dependent (Moto Actions, for example). I love all of these features, but am not willing to give up qi charging so I've recreated many of them for well less than the difference between the Nexus 5 and the Moto X.
  • Yea you can have most of features but you will better off from those cuz mostly are battery hog. AcDisplay is good but you'll notice it draining a lot of battery, some will say it don't take much but even author says it takes and its not as optimized as is my moto x cuz they uses low power sensors but AcDisplay or other apps can't..
  • One suggestion for Moto Assist.... Work At work too many people leave their phones on their desk, and it rings, and rings, and RINGS. Or their special ring tones are just SO annoying. Vibrate mode at work would be a fantastic addition. Currently I use Tasker to do this when my phone connects to a specific Wifi router at work.
  • Side loaded this on my Moto G (2013) and it works! Literally works!
  • No Moto X(2014) review, before I have mine in hand? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Phil, how did you get rid of the AT&T in the top left?
  • thank you
  • Did anyone else notice that 1st gen Moto X can now sense "wave" motion to wake up your Active Display? I completely missed when they snuck that little tidbit in for us, but it's one of my favorite features of the phone now. Motorola is one of the best phone manufacturers to buy from right now because of all the little details and features you discover and experience every single day using their devices. Clearly, they are putting a lot of thought and emphasis on delivering quality devices that are beautifully designed to intuitively anticipate the user's needs and provide the best user experience possible. Google's fingerprints are everywhere ever since they rescued Motorola Mobility from a fate that I can only imagine would be similar to what Nokia is experiencing (just keep having in there, buddy). But there have been some big changes to the only recently recovered hardware giant. A (yet to be finalized) acquisition by Lenovo and not to mention, the departure of Soni Punit, the father of Touchless Control and Active Display. What do you guys think the future holds for Motorola Mobility? Insight into the acquisition:
  • My apologies, of course I meant Punit Soni.
  • Interesting, reading your comment I had my doubts since the 2013 doesn't have the IR sensors. But it actually does work. Must use the ambient light sensor or something. You have to wave slowly and within a few inches of the screen. I think it's quicker/easier to just tap or bump the phone slightly to get it to turn on, ...although not as jedi-like.