Moto X

Touchless Control, the ability to wake up and control the phone without ever touching it, is one of the marque features of Motorola’s 2013 devices, including the Moto X and the new Verizon Droid line.

Simply say “OK, Google Now” and the phone, which, thanks to its natural language processor, is always listening, wakes up ready to execute your commands. For instance, you can ask for the weather or for directions to a certain place, and complete any other action that is currently supported by Google Now.

Touchless Control has been published in the Play Store as a standalone app, which is sadly but predictably, limited to the four devices that feature the functionality out of the box – Droid Ultra, Droid Mini, Droid Maxx, and the Moto X.

Check out Touchless Control and other features of the Moto X in our hands-on:

You may ask, what’s the point of releasing an app that is only available on the devices that already have it installed? The reason has to do with updates – by making the feature a standalone app, Motorola can easily update it whenever needed, to add features or fix bugs. If the functionality were baked in the system, Motorola would have to push an OTA to roll out new features. This also gives us hope that more features are planned for Touchless Control in the future.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • Tony Hoffman

    This will be a android 5 feature I believe.. They want to keep it exclusive to moto for the time being since moto is going to markets this as their hook or one of them.

    • Bazar6

      That would make sense since they’re owned by Google, and their profits need a kick start. I’d love for something like this on my GNex, but value my battery life too much to wish for them to make it available for regular phones.

  • Bradley Uffner

    I believe this feature makes use of special hardware, a very low power CPU core, that continually processes the audio data. Trying to use this on any devices that lacks this hardware would run the normal CPU constantly, preventing the phone from ever properly sleeping and end up draining the battery too quickly to be very useful.

    • MasterMuffin

      That’s obviously true :)

      • Bradley Uffner

        Obvious to some people I guess. Others seem to think that this feature will be coming to existing phones eventually due to it being available on the store.

        • MasterMuffin

          :D Well I hope people read your comment then

        • Ben dover

          The problem is the phones that come with it have an extra core in the processor that is dedicated to listening for that command allowing the rest of the phone to sleep & conserve battery. Any phone without that dedicated core would have terrible battery life because the whole phone would be awake to listen for that command. It’s called wakelock. One of the biggest causes of battery drain on android.

    • DanDingello

      all other phones should have this tech. Most of the smartphones these days runt out of juice in less than a day

    • Cody Leslie

      Snapdragon S800 has this chip built in. I want this on my G2. :)

    • Quinlan M

      So like the fifth low-power core in my Nexus 7’s Tegra 3?

  • John Hamernick-Ramseier

    I think more companies should release their apps and skins onto the play store even if they are exclusive to some or all of the companies phones. This would help them update their phones without waiting on carrier approval the sane way Google is side stepping everyone to make sure their apps are updated. I can see eventually Google and phone companies using the play store as a software update center similar to Linux, and using it to update the OS so carriers can’t have a say anymore.

  • Jordan Thoms

    I’m really impressed with Moto here – rather than messing up the stock android software, they put their efforts into building cool new features which use specialized hardware in the phone.

  • T.J.

    If they end up releasing every feature that the new Motorola phones have that make it not stock, would the updates be a lot quicker? It’s stock android other than the active notifications and touchless control right?

    • John Hamernick-Ramseier

      Its mostly stock Android as far as look and feel goes but the software has been optimized for the hardware so updates will take just as long as a manufacturer’s skin because they have to do the same optimization for each version.

  • deepen03

    I clicked this, and got excited because I thought I could install it on my S4. Horrible article title, Android Authority -_-

    • Skander

      Your S4 already has this, go to Svoice, open the svoice settings and set it to always listen.

  • Jeff LeFevre

    It’s one of the *marquee features… just sayin’ ;)
    Good article! :D

  • Charles Humphries

    This same feature is native to the S Voice on Note 3.

    • Skander

      People seem to always ignore that, there is an option to make SVoice always listening.

  • Terry Lee

    If you are on another device then feel free to try Open Mic+ for Google Now.

    • glein

      It’s a nice app, but it locks mic access down, along with volume, and it’s usually the first to get auto killed if my device runs low on ram.