It is generally accepted that the 'old' Motorola was 'on horseback', but now it is no longer the same. However, modern Moto also exhibits many interesting and useful features that are worth talking about.
It's no secret that all companies love to borrow ideas from others. There is nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, it is even better for us, users. But if earlier this was a great reason for disputes among enthusiasts and discussions in the media, now everything has somehow calmed down.
I recall with a bit of nostalgia that lawsuit between Apple and Samsung a few years ago, when Koreans were accused of stealing smartphone design and software shell. Although, if you look at the horde of modern 'iPhone-like' or 'Samsung-like' phones that are similar to each other, like twin brothers, then the similarities between the Samsung Galaxy S2 and iPhone 4 or TouchWiz and iOS is not so obvious.
At the moment, there are almost no companies left on the mobile device market that are not afraid to do something original in terms of design and new in terms of software. The main ones here are, of course, Apple and Samsung. Previously, they could also be attributed to LG and HTC, if you recall LG G4 and HTC One M8 – excellent devices, but the latest models quite controversial, especially the LG G5, and they clearly have problems with pricing. Before that, I had undeservedly bypassed one, one might say, legendary company – Motorola. Watching the last three WWDC presentations, when Apple shows another 'feature' in the new version iOS, every time I catch myself thinking 'Moto had this!'. That is why I decided to tell you about interesting and useful ideas of the company Motorola, which are worthy of attention.
In certain circles, it is customary to scold Google for buying and using the company Motorola to replenish the patent base, and then resell it Lenovo. However, it was during this period, under the leadership of the Dobra Corporation, that the legendary Moto X smartphone was released, which made a lot of noise in its time. Motorola did a great job on hardware and software. Especially for Moto X, a redesigned version of the Qualcomm MSM8960 processor – Motorola X8 was created, in which several additional computing cores were added to solve special problems. One such challenge is Active Display, which was later renamed Moto Display.
A separate energy efficient core in Moto X is responsible for constantly analyzing the position of the smartphone in space, so as not to load the main processor. A month later, a similar solution was shown by Apple – processor Apple M7 in iPhone 5S. This core helped to implement the function of automatically turning on the display when the user picks up the device from the table or takes it out of his pocket. However, the display did not fully light up, and a minimalistic version of the lock screen was launched, where only one last notification was displayed.
The user can pull the 'lock' up to launch the application in which the notification has arrived, or down to unlock the device. Also, this lock screen lights up when a notification arrives when the phone is just lying on the table. Thanks to the AMOLED display, this feature had almost no effect on power consumption, since not the entire screen was working, but individual pixels. Starting from Moto X 2014, they added the ability to activate Active Display by swiping your palm in front of the screen, but, judging by the reviews, this worked not always accurately. And to implement this function on the front panel of the smartphone, several additional sensors were added in the corners, which were very striking, especially on the white panel. In general, a rather controversial decision.
Most importantly, it was not 'trick for trick'. Active Display turned out to be a really useful feature that worked flawlessly. So at WWDC 2016 for iPhone they showed something similar – Raise to Wake. Now devices on iOS 10 will also automatically turn on the display when the user picks it up from the table.
Quick launch camera
The energy-efficient core for tracking the movement of a smartphone in space has helped to implement another useful feature. Motorola for Moto X came up with a new way of quickly activating the camera using an unusual movement – the smartphone needs to be quickly rotated twice with the screen away from you with a brush. This is perhaps one of the most convenient ways to shoot quickly. Most importantly, this gesture works even with the display off.
Better implementation of a quick launch of the camera, as for me, only in Samsung, where you just need to double-click on the 'Home' button.
The second additional core in Moto X was responsible for the perception of natural speech – the phone could distinguish the owner's voice from strangers. Also, the energy-efficient processor allowed the microphone to be constantly active to await a command from the user – 'Ok, Google Now'. After that, you could ask the phone to perform some task: find something on the Internet, turn on the alarm, call, send a message, and so on. And for this you did not need to turn on the phone, it could just lie on the bedside table. Now you won't surprise anyone with this, but in 2013 it was amazing.
A little later, this function appeared for devices of the Nexus line, and only last year for iOS, in the form of the command 'Hey Siri'. Before that, iPhone and iPad could also constantly 'listen' to the user, but only when connected to a charger. I don’t know how well Siri distinguishes the voice of strangers from the owner, but Moto made this function extremely accurate. The system was unable to fool the system with mnenik, by the way, the voice assistant in Moto eventually learned to perceive Russian speech.
However, the constantly active microphone still negatively affected the already short battery life of the Moto X, and there is not much benefit from the voice assistant. So personally, I only used this function to surprise my acquaintances. The rest of the time I had it turned off.
Perhaps this is the most interesting idea Motorola, which, unfortunately, is irrelevant for the CIS countries. Moto Maker is where you can build your unique smartphone. With this service, you can completely customize the device for yourself – change the color of the front and rear panels, frames around the camera, speaker grill, side edges, the material of the back cover, be it plastic, wood, leather or ballistic nylon, you can also engrave on the 'back' any inscription. However, in the first Moto X smartphones, it was also possible to change the color of the side keys.
Of course, Moto Maker is not something amazing. This is just a nice bonus for the buyer. None of the other companies can offer to make a 'unique' version of a smartphone to their requirements. And one more plus – smartphones of the Moto X line with a wooden or leather cover look very decent. Also in Moto Maker you can expand the package of your smartphone – add a branded case, headset or headphones, of course, for money.
However, again, Moto Maker is not available for our market, alas. But if I'm not mistaken, there are ways to order a 'unique' smartphone through intermediaries. By the way, now there is a discount for Moto X Pure Edition (X Style) in the American Moto Maker – it can be purchased for only $ 299.
I would like to acknowledge Moto's work on software. In addition, Moto X smartphones are one of the first to receive a system update, just after the Nexus line. Also, many will like practically 'naked' Android. I also need to mention the excellent firmware optimization. Moto X was one of the fastest devices among competitors, although it only had a 2-core processor, while other flagships used 4 cores with might and main – Nexus 4, HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S4. However, in the latest smartphones Moto X Style and X Play, users at the start complained about the system's slow performance. I don’t know if the update situation has changed.
Also worth mentioning is another unique Moto 'feature' – ShatterShield. I will not tell you about this 'unkillable' display technology, as Artem Lutfullin has already written about it in a separate article.
The text may be perceived as a praise from the company Motorola. And, you know, that's the way it is. It's quite difficult to explain the convenience of the Active Display function in text, it just needs to be tried. After a long time using the device, you get so used to the fact that the phone itself turns on the display when you take it in your hands – this is not even as convenient as activating the screen by double tap. After losing Moto X and acquiring LG G2, this 'trick' was not enough for me, the same goes for launching the camera with a hand movement.
All of the above 'chips' roam from the first version of the Moto X to the latest Moto X Style and X Pure. However, the bezels of the recently unveiled Moto Z and Z Force are clearly visible at the corners of the Moto Display, so they probably won't go anywhere, and that's a good thing.
I would like to hear from you, dear readers, how you feel about Moto devices. Perhaps you can share your experience of communicating with them.