One of the most interesting and talked about features in the Motorola-made Moto X is always-on voice search. Activated by saying “OK, Google,” it permits totally hands-free search. Unfortunately this standout feature didn’t sell enough handsets to keep open Moto’s much-touted Texas smartphone factory.
The “hotword” OK Google also currently works on the Google search app for Android and on Chrome on the desktop. The difference between these examples and the Moto X feature is the “always listening” aspect. On Chrome and Android Google Search there’s an “activation” step; search must be opened or initiated.
According to a “high-confidence” rumor published by Android Police, the Moto X “always listening” capability will become broadly available on for Google search Android in the near future. There will also be an enhanced “eyes free” capability for in-car use cases. New screens and additional voice playback features are being developed according to the site:
Google wants to provide a minimal, sparse interface for carrying out searches and other actions while driving, biking, or doing other things that require your concentration, in order to make things super easy while also avoiding any distraction. Users can choose to use Bluetooth devices or headsets to activate Search, but can also wave their hand over the device to initiate an interaction. The functionality would also read notifications aloud.
There’s a potential battery issue to be solved. Motorola was famous for its power management capabilities. Indeed, this enabled the sensor-based “always on” capability of Moto X.
Apple in 2012 introduced “eyes-free” Siri for in-car usage. That capability is being integrated into Apple’s Car Play iOS in-dash system.
Below is a demonstration of Motorola’s version of “always on” voice search. Motorola also promoted this capability in a humorous series of “lazy phone” video ads.