Review: Moto X is the Android smartphone no one needs
The much-ballyhooed smartphone from Google's hardware unit brings little that's worthwhile to the mixFollow @MobileGalen
All winter long, we were treated to fevered speculation about the Moto X from Google's hardware unit, Motorola Mobility. Motorola has produced a string of lackluster Android devices, but the Moto X was going to be different. It would redefine the smartphone and challenge Samsung for creative dominance over the Android platform. It would be customizable -- and made in the United States.
It was clear when the Moto X was finally announced on Aug. 1 that it was no game-changer. But now that the Moto X is shipping, it turns out to be less than that. It's a mediocre smartphone that adds nothing useful to the mix. There's simply no reason for this smartphone to exist.
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The Moto X runs the stock Android "Jelly Bean" 4.2.2 version, which means it has all the pros and cons of any Android smartphone. For example, on the pro side, the Calendar app supports more kinds of repeating events than an iPhone's iOS does, there's near-field communication (NFC) for data exchange with other NFC-enabled Android devices, and you get access to all those Android home-screen widgets. On the con side, there's no support for the widely used Cisco IPSec VPNs, encryption is disabled by default, and media integration falls short compared to Apple's iTunes/AirPlay combination.
The Moto X does introduce a twist on the voice-command system that Android has long offered in competition with Apple's Siri: You can set the Moto X to always listen for Google Now commands, which can be handy while you're driving and shouldn't be touching your smartphone. Although it does a great job of understanding speech, Google Now's voice commands are very limited, not able to do much besides performing Web searches or issuing a few commands, such as make a call or send a text. Worse, you have to know the specific phrase that Google has programmed -- like "Show me the weather" -- to get real information instead of a search page. By contrast, Siri is much, much smarter and able to provide a lot of useful information from all sorts of queries: "How hot is it?" "What's the weather outside? "Tell me the weather?" and so on. Siri adapts to you; Google Now makes you adapt to it.