Moto X: Do consumers even want to control their phone by voice?

Moto X: Do consumers even want to control their phone by voice?

Summary: One of the defining features of the Moto X is the ability to always be listening for your command. I haven't seen people embracing any current voice control technology and don't think it is a big deal.

Moto X: Do consumers even want to control their phone by voice?
(Image: Motorola)

Yesterday Motorola showed off all the details of the Moto X with one of the main differentiators being the voice control functionality. While it follows what we have seen with Google Glass, is saying "OK Google" out loud to your phone something that actually appeals to the masses?

I like to look around and survey the people on my Sounder train commute for mobile device usage. On most days I see more than 75 percent on a phone, particularly in the afternoon. However, no one is using Siri or other voice control apps and very few are even making phone calls. I don't enjoy hearing people's conversations with others and I just am not sold that voice control is something that is very desirable.

Apple promotes Siri in commercials, but on my iPhone I used it about once every two weeks to create a reminder. I don't see many people using Siri or any of a number of good alternatives on Android. Windows Phone has solid voice control integration, but again I never use it and almost forget it is even there.

See also: Motorola bets on customization features with $199 Moto X and With Moto X, Google may make Android, Motorola more approachable

The Moto X looks to be a good mid-range Android phone, priced the same as high end smartphones, and the ability to choose your own color scheme may be appealing to some. As I stated before I am not a fan of exclusives, but really can't believe they are just making this customization exclusive to one carrier here in the US.

The hardware looks good and I hope to try out a Moto X. Maybe it will change my mind and get me to start talking to my phone, but I doubt it since Siri never got me to use my iPhone more with voice. I do love the Made in the USA idea and would like to support the concept.

Will the Moto X be the device to get people to start using their voice more to control their phone or will the voice functionality be fun for two weeks and then never used again?

Topics: Mobility, Android, Smartphones

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  • Being disable I need voice

    I have cerebral palsy and many people may not use voice true but, some of us do. I just got a Samsung Galaxy S4 and I love the voice commands for taken a photo. I can also say answer or reject when someone calls. I have found this has made my life easier and now I can actually use the camera. This was my biggest complaint before. I was looking for hard press buttons but saying capture works just as good. Not so good in a noisy area :(

    The only issue I see is you need to press Svoice to do things. I would love an option where voice is always on running in the back ground unless disable.

    So don't be so fast to knock voice as people like me are able to function somewhat normal in a world that most of the time leave us behind.
    • Headset?


      Have you looked at maybe using a bluetooth headset to be the trigger for the voice commands? This may simplify things and also help out with using the commands in a noisy environment.
      Robert Crocker
      • It's not about just hands free. It's about always listening.

        The great thing about the Moto X is the dedicated chip in the phone for voice activated commands. You don't have to grab your phone to turn it on or wake it up to start using it. It's a single feature, but will be a game changer.
  • No they don't

    But it's cool and sometimes coolness sells - not that I believe Motorola will make any breakthrough in terms of sales with this phone.
    • This phone will sell like crazy...

      It's the cheapest newest offering with vanilla Android on it, it has new voice technology, quad core gpu, 8 cores total... Better than the iphone 5 imo. Even comes in dozens of colors.

      The guy who wrote this article is obviously an Apple fanboy.
      • Agreed. It's a game changer

        That separate chip dedicated to voice command work will be implemented in other phones going forward.
      • Cheapest how?

        It's 200$ on contract, just like the major handsets.
        Michael Alan Goff
  • I barely never use S Voice on my S4 and that's a much better phone

    It's just an odd and unnatural thing to do, we all feel stupid when talking to our phones too.
    • S Voice

      is the worst. I disabled it and went with Google voice commands as soon as I could.
      • Agreed. Why use S-Voice when you have Google Voice Search?

        And with Google Now compliments Google Voice perfectly. That's the winning combination. Much more useful than Siri on iPhone because of it.
  • a lot of if's

    If it doesn't affect battery life, and if it doesn't get activated randomly when I'm talking to people, then it would be cool. I have a feeling it will have terrible battery life and activate in your pocket all the time though.

    and it's certainly not a cool enough feature to warrant making a phone with $300 specs cost $600.
    • battery life

      I heard Guy Kawasaki yesterday explain that the main cpu is sleeping and another smaller/weaker cpu (that require almost no power) is listening for the "ok google now" once it is recognized the main cpu wakes up.
      • Google states 24 hours charge with mixed use.

        Because of the separate chip dedicated to voice command work. And you are suppose to train your phone to specifically recognize your voice over someone else's. They've thought of that though the preliminary tests are uneven. But that will get better through software updates.
  • ZzZzZzZz....

    Same ole boring Motorola BS. The on screen navigation buttons sucks btw, so many phones are doing this and it is so annoying. The battery on this phone is 2200, shitty. The S4 is 2600. Bigger screen too, 1080p and WAY more options. The price is way too high for a "mid level phone" Motorola was best with the Nextels back in the day. Samsung Android phones are so far more superior.
    Joseph Dawson
    • But no other phone does what this phone can do.

      The always on voice command feature is a game changer. The fact that there is a chip in it means other phones can't simply do a software update to do something similar.

      Google claims 24 hours of mixed use for the battery. The always on voice feature doesn't drain the battery because the dedicated chip for it consumes much less power than the main cpu.
  • Voice recognition is a gas in other languages!

    I've got an el-cheapo Acer Z120, maybe a high-price/high-power Android phone would perform better. But voice recognition does zip if I speak Dutch, totally mangled results. Good for a laugh I suppose. Any more luck with other languages?
  • It's bad enough to have to listen to people's phone converstations... we get the "added pleasure" of having to listen to them yapping at the phone just to get it started? Oh goody. :-(
    • No, but will use it when not around many people...

      like when users are in their cars or at home.
  • NO

    The simple answer is "no", the vast majority of people don't want to talk to their phone (or their car) just to control it. So that is nothing but a "gimmick" feature that would get turned off on any phone I would own.

    This 'new' phone from Google/Motorola is an average phone with some older specs, yet the price and 2 year contract requirement via Verizon are a joke. Why would you ever want this phone?
    • Completely disagree

      I use voice search on my GN2 all the time at home and while I'm driving and have my GN2 set to driving mode. This feature would make it only that much more useful to use it this way.

      The dedicated chip for the voice feature is a game changer. Always on feature is a game changer.