Three weeks ago, at the invitation of BlogHer '13 keynote speaker Guy Kawasaki, I headed to the Googleplex in Mountain View for a super-secret introduction to a super-secret new product. (A new product everyone had been talking about on tech blogs for weeks, but nonetheless ... )
I arrived and was in the company of other geekily inclined bloggers like Laura Fitton, Leo LaPorte, Robert Scoble, Ben Parr, Chris Brogan, and of course, Guy himself. And Google+ sensation, Daria Musk.
NDA signing at the door aside, the event was unusually casual and personal, probably thanks to our host.
Image Credit: Robert Scoble
We were brought into a demo room that accommodated projection on the three white walls all around and given a demonstration of the new Android phone that will be built inside Google, leveraging their Motorola Mobility acquisition: The MotoX.
Google's last attempt at making their own phone, the Nexus, was hardly a resounding success, so the MotoX is a big deal to them ... and will hopefully make the massive Motorola acquisition worthwhile. There seemed to be a few key attributes they wanted us to note. (And retain in our little memories for three weeks until we could talk about them ... a tough order for me, given BlogHer '13 absorbed all my available brain space these last three weeks!) Here are some things to know about the MotoX.
Here, in my hot little hand, is a purple MotoX. (It's like they knew I was coming!) Yes, you will be able to design your own phone, as far as colors for the case and various accents. They're also partnering with third-party vendors to have matching ear buds and more. This seems like a cool, but somewhat frivolous, feature -- but then remember when those candy-colored iMacs came out? It started a bit of a revolution in industrial design.
2. Always On
The phone is basically always on, always knowing where you are, and always listening for your command. This means it also has a battery than can withstand that kind of ongoing state and last a very long time. The always-on feature also means you can wake up your phone with only your voice, which takes hands-free to a new level.
3. Quick Access to Common Tasks
For example, if you pick up your phone it will automatically show you what time it is and if there has been a recent text or call. Or, if you see a shot you want to take with your camera, you can shake the phone to wake up the camera and press anywhere on the screen to take your shot. The argument is that it will take you two seconds to take a picture, and you won't miss the shot. (Side note: Most people at the event did not seem aware that you can activate your camera right after pushing the home button on the iPhone, sliding up on the camera icon. So really that only takes two seconds, too.) In general, the idea seems to be -- more and more -- to have your mobile device try to read your mind. What do you want? Why would you pick up the phone? The MotoX thinks it knows.
4. Assembled in the USA
Not only a patriotic gesture, but a practical one, designed to deliver your customized phone in less than four days.
After the presentation, we got a chance to play with the customizable ordering system and look at a bunch of the phones in various color combinations. While I'm sure the phone is the right size for most people's hands, I do have pretty small hands, so it was a bit large for me (as is my iPhone 5, for that matter).
I'll be getting one to try myself in a few weeks (which may make my Google Glass way more functional as well, as a side benefit) and should have more hands-on perspective at that time.
The heart of a mobile device, for me, is how well it manages email, texting, and social sharing. And how good its camera is. And finally (ironically), how good the phone is.
Those are things you can't really glean from a press event. It's the first phone I've seen that has made me willing to activate a new account to try an Android phone at all, though, and that is saying something!
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