July 16, 2013, 8:53 AM — The new Moto X smartphone will reportedly feature voice activation for Google Now, visual lock screen updates, and the ability to activate the handset's camera with a double-shake. That's according to a leaked video that recently surfaced online, purportedly from Canadian wireless carrier Rogers.
The video claims to be showing off the capabilities of Motorola's upcoming smartphone. The clip was leaked online by a Ukraine-based Google+ user going by the (Google translated) name of Dima Prokopenko, whose only public update on the social network was the purported Rogers video.
Rogers declined to comment on the video, telling TechHive that it does not discuss leaks, rumors, or speculation. Nevertheless, Ausdroid.net reported earlier that Rogers asked the site to take down the video in question citing copyright infringement after Ausdroid posted the clip to its YouTube account.
It's not clear how someone in Ukraine got a hold of a Canadian carrier's promotional material, but the phone in the video does appear to match previous leaks surrounding the Moto X's look and feel. The handset looks very similar to the "mystery phone" (widely acknowledged to be the Moto X) that Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was recently sporting in Sun Valley, Idaho. The interface on the phone also matches previous leaks.
The Moto X featured in the purported Rogers video highlights several key features showing off how the phone can use its sensors that are in an "always-on" state and ready to respond to commands. During the D11 conference in May, Motorola chief Dennis Woodside highlighted the Moto X's reliance on sensors that could change the phone's interface based on how you hold it or whether you're driving.
"Okay, Google Now..."
In the Rogers video, the user is able to activate Google Now, the search giant's digital personal assistant, by saying "Okay, Google Now..." into the device. This is similar to the "Okay, Google..." voice activation phrase for Glass, Google's wearable computing device. Currently, Android users have to start Google Now manually and then say "Google," to get the service to respond to voice commands.
Direct voice activation for Google Now and other Google services has been a long-anticipated feature. Google's Chrome browser, for example, received an Android-like voice search feature in late May. The browser is also expected to get voice activated search in the coming months.
The Moto X will supposedly display alerts in a different manner than current Android phones. The Nexus 4, for example, has a small LED pulse notification light at the bottom of the handset that lights up in different colors depending on the type of alert.
In the supposed Rogers video, however, the handset is able to display a simple app icon on the lock screen that tells you which application has just received an alert. The app alert shows up where the lock icon would usually be, similar to how you receive a phone call with Android devices running Jelly Bean. Presumably, you could then swipe to view or dismiss the alert.
The other feature tipped in the video is that the Moto X camera would activate by giving the handset a quick double shake. If accurate, that's a lame implementation.
During D11, Woodside said the phone was going to be "contextually aware" so that the Moto X could anticipate what you wanted to do. So if you took your phone out of your pocket, it might light up the lock screen or if you're driving, it might switch to a driver-friendly interface with larger tap areas. Woodside's claims may be more hype than substance, however, if the Moto X is filled with odd gestures like camera double-shakes that really have nothing to do with how you'd take a picture in the real world.
Buzz-worthy or buzzkill?
The Rogers video also calls into question whether the Moto X will be a hit with Android fans. Based on leaks, the phone is turning out to be decidedly boring. After Motorola hyped the idea that the Moto X would be the first "smartphone you can design yourself." Further reports revealed that the Moto X's personalization features would be nothing more than cosmetic additions we've been seeing for years such as engraving, color options, and device wallpaper.
The Moto X's expected specs--a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, 2GB RAM, 4.6- or 5-inch display at 720p resolution, and a 10-megapixel camera--are also decidedly ho-hum.
Now the Moto X's supposed innovation with sensors is slowly turning out to be features that any other smartphone could reasonably offer if it had the right software. So how long will it be until features such as Google Now voice activation and visual lock screen updates make their way to other devices such as the Nexus 4 or the Samsung Galaxy S4?
If all the Moto X has going for it are the features in this leaked video, Motorola better offer this phone at a similar price point as the Nexus 4. Because as far as I can see, a cheap price would be the only thing to get excited about with the Moto X.
But it's still early days. Official information about the Moto X has yet to be released, and it may turn out that Motorola still has a few secrets hidden away for the official debut.
The Moto X is expected to hit stores this summer. The leaked video claims the Moto X will surface in Canada in August available only in black and white. It's not clear if the U.S. will have an earlier release date or if more colors will be available.
Updated at 2:08 p.m. PT with a response from Rogers.