User Experience and Software
Motorola did a good job at keeping the Android experience pretty clean on the Moto X. However, you’ll still get the standard set of carrier apps preloaded. On our Verizon Wireless test unit for example, you’ll find Verizon Caller Name ID, Verizon Cloud, My Verizon Mobile, VZ Navigator, VZ Protect, and more in the Apps menu. The Moto X runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat, though Motorola has announced plans to offer an upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop for both the 1st Gen and 2nd Gen Moto X.
You’ll find the best of Motorola’s custom features inside the Moto app. Here, you can set up and access Moto Assist, Moto Actions, Moto Voice, and Moto Display. With Moto Assist, the phone can automatically adjust various settings to four preset modes: Sleeping, Driving, Home, and Meeting. In Sleeping mode, you can opt to silence the phone and keep the screen off. If you choose to silence the phone, you can still allow calls to come through if they’re from your Favorites list or if someone calls twice within a 5 minute timeframe. Driving mode features the ability to have the Moto X read text messages to you, tells you who’s calling, play music, and more. In Home mode, the phone can read text messages and tell you who is calling. Meeting mode will silence the phone when you’re tied up and send automatic replies to let people know you’re in a meeting.
Moto Actions lets you wave your hand over the phone’s IR sensors to silence calls or snooze alarms. Actions also include the Twist for Quick Capture feature we have seen on other Motorola devices that opens the camera with a couple twists of your wrist while holding the phone. In the Actions menu, you can also control the settings that enable the phone to trigger the Moto Display when you reach for the device. The Approach for the Moto Display feature is very handy since we often power on our phone’s display to check the time or see current notifications. With Approach for Moto Display, a simple motion towards the phone can give you the information you need and also conserve battery life since only a portion of the screen turns on using this feature.
When you select Moto Voice, you’ll have access to the setup process for the voice actions found on the Moto X including setting up your own phrase to wake the phone. Moto Display lets you control which notifications you’ll see at a glance when the phone senses your hand is approaching.
The voice commands available through Moto Voice are very similar to what you get with Google Now with a few additional features that are specific to the Moto X. For example, telling the phone “Goodnight” will enable the Sleeping mode in Moto Assist. Our Verizon Wireless test model also enables you to check Verizon usage using voice controls.
During our tests using the voice commands, the phone did an excellent job at waking to our launch phrase. Many of our requests were answered with “opening Google” followed by the by the phone completing a Google search. Asking the phone to “open YouTube” resulted in a quick opening of the app and a follow-up question to see what I wanted to watch. Silencing a call by waving your hand also works well.
At the base of the Home screen, you’ll find five icons, four of which are customizable. From left to right, you’ll find Phone, Chrome, Apps, Message+, and Camera. The Apps icon is the only one that cannot be customized.