Motorola’s Lasting Impact Shows at I/O

Google shocked the tech world in January when it announced it was selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion, only a year after purchasing the company for $12.5 billion. The phone maker seemed to have a new focus and drive after being unshackled from its set-top branch. This new drive was initially seen with the release of the Moto X last year. However, despite the praise the device received from the tech community for its design, unique customization options and useful software additions, the phone failed to help to company become profitable. By December of 2013, Motorola CEO and Google veteran Dennis Woodside told CNET about how his company would be releasing affordable yet high quality phones. And then came the Moto G, which truly was a well-made midrange phone at an affordable price. In January, Google announced it was selling Motorola to Lenovo. Motorola always said that it operated independently from Google. However, Google announced a few new Android features and strategies that seem to be taken straight out of Motorola’s playbook.

  1. Motorola Connect vs. Android notification in Chrome OS:
    • For those who don’t have a Moto X, one of my favorite features is Motorola Connect. Connect is a Chrome extension that displays texts and phone calls right on your computer. I get a notifications on my computer about incoming texts and phone calls. You can even respond to texts and view your call history, but you cannot take calls from your computer. This feature looks very similar to the announcement at I/O about getting Android notification on your Chromebook. Similarly, you can view and respond to texts, but also get other android app notifications. However, Google specifically mentioned Chrome OS devices and not just Chrome users, which is strange. We’ll have to wait and see if all Chrome users will get Android notification with Android “L”.
  2. Contextually aware:
    • This phrase was used a lot at I/O to describe features of the L developer preview. However, Motorola has been using contextually aware software to aid its phones since it first included SMARTACTIONS app on first Droid RAZR. That app evolved into Motorola Assist and is currently available on Motorola line of Moto and DROID phones. Assist can automatically silence your ringtone during calendar events (with options to allow favorite contacts or people who call twice bypass the silent mode), read texts out loud and tell you who’s calling when your driving or at home, automatically play music when connected to your car’s bluetooth, and can silence your phone during set times so you get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Motorola Device ID vs. “Kill Switch”
    • At Google I/O, the search giant announced that Android “L” would feature a “kill switch,” allowing users to remotely wipe their devices, regardless of if its been stolen or restored to factory settings. The idea of a smartphone “kill switch” has been the topic of public debate in the past year, with California even passing a law to require it. This feature seems like the next evolution for the Android Device Manager app, which is an optional Android app that allows users to ring, lock or wipe any of their Android devices that also have the app installed. However, even before Google released Android Device Manager, Motorola included Device ID in phones. This service is basically the exact same thing as Device Manager, but only worked with your Motorola phone.
  4. Touchless Control vs. “Okay Google” everywhere voice command
    • Easily one of my favorite features of the Moto X and newest Droid phones, Touchless Control works great when your phone is charging or in the other room or your just really lazy and don’t want to pick up your phone to do a voice command. I find myself using it all the time because I constantly misplace my phone, so I end up saying, “Okay Google Now, find my phone,” quite a bit. Granted, the “Okay Google” hotword detection from everywhere is just an update to the Google Search app and not an exclusive Android “L” feature, but nonetheless it is a new announced feature. When enabled, it does almost everything Touchless Control does with one big exception: your phone will have to be charging for the voice command to work when the display is off.
  5. Active Display vs. L’s new lockscreen:
    • While this one may seem like a stretch, Motorola proved the lockscreen was the place for a drastically new way of interacting with your notifications. Motorola’s active display is the number one feature for those of us who don’t own a smartwatch. With the announcement of the developer preview of Android “L,” Google decided to completely revamp the lockscreen to be a place where you can quickly glance and manage your notifications.
  6.  Moto G & E vs. Android One
    • The companies mission to produce high-quality yet affordable smartphones came to fruition with the release of the Moto G and the Moto E.  At I/O, Android One was announced, a program that teaches other companies how to build cheap, high-quality phones that Google will keep updated with the latest OS. Motorola proved that a good user experience on a low end device is a potent combination, as the two devices were rapid successes for the company.

It seems like Google didn’t just buy Motorola for its patents. Rather, they bought them for their innovation.

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