Before I get into the how, you must first know where I was before I became an iPhone user. In February 2012, I switched from Android over to the iPhone exclusively; in between that time I owned a iPhone 4S and an unlocked iPhone 5. I didn’t do it because I thought the iPhone was a better product, or because I thought iOS was a better mobile operating system; instead, I did it out of frustration that came from the Android platform.
Before 2012, I owned a Sprint Nexus S 4G — yeah, remember that phone? My experience on that device was so horrid that it pushed me off the edge into an iPhone.
Now for those of you who don’t recall the absurdity Google and Sprint put users through with the Nexus S 4G, allow me to refresh your memory. The Nexus S 4G, a handset that was supposed to deliver a “Nexus experience,” didn’t receive the newest update (ICS) at the time until six months later! I detailed more distaste in my NS4G rant I wrote over a year ago. So the fact that Google’s Nexus program was also fragmented angered me.
However, since then Google has vastly improved user experience on its OS thanks to the inception of Jelly Bean Android 4.1+. There were plenty of devices that came out in the past year that were not only powerful, but looked the part as well.
Unfortunately, these devices still suffered from the same old issues: delayed updates and god-awful custom skins layered on top of Android. A plague caused by overzealous manufacturers more obsessed with “differentiating” than improving user experience.
Okay, so why the Moto X?
Motorola’s latest flagship reminds me a lot of the iPhone. The Moto X is similar to the iPhone because it nails the way Apple delivers an uncomplicated form factor and user experience. Seriously, the Moto X has the best usability in an Android phone I’ve had in a while. With its simple experience, the Moto X feels like an iPhone both on the outside and inside. Every reviewer of this device has acknowledged how great it feels in the hand. Hell, we’ve even touted this, among other things in our Moto X review here.
I know the Moto X isn’t a Nexus, but who cares? Motorola did an awesome job of pulling back it’s custom skin, so well that it’s practically stock Android. The Moto X is not like the newer Droid phones, as it doesn’t carry any noticeable bloatware from AT&T (not sure about the other carriers).
The way the Moto X wins over the iPhone is by its native features: Touchless Control, Active Notifications, and Assist (Moto’s drive assistance mode). At first hand, most considered these to be borderline gimmicky, but instead, they actually turn out to be pretty useful. It’s funny, I thought I wouldn’t have any use for them, but ended up using these features all the time. These aren’t earth-shattering features, but they work extremely well.
Active Notifications just works … instead of powering your phone on to see every message, you can just flick up on the screen for a peak and go about your business. Touchless Control allows you to shout a command to Google Now from any corner of the room, even when the phone is in sleep mode. Assist throws your handset into drive mode automatically when your on the road, allowing you to answer or deny calls without having to pick up your phone.
Strangely, with all Apple’s sophistication and newly released iOS 7 software, it still doesn’t offer that kind of command through the iPhone via Siri — which may be the reason the tech giant just bought Google Now knockoff company, Cue. The company’s notifications and voice command service (among other things) are broken.
That being said, the Moto X isn’t perfect but it still shows promise, as it gives the world an insight into what we can expect from Google’s Motorola going forward. It shows the search giant through Motorola is honing in its features in a more concise way that improves the user experience.