A big update is rolling out for Motorola's Touchless Control app that should alleviate some of the frustrations users have had with its functionality. Primarily, voice commands no longer require you to unlock your phone first in order to work. Yet for safety reasons, emails, texts, contacts, and other private information remain protected behind a lock screen. Speaking of which, users can now unlock their Moto X by saying their PIN out loud (behavior, while cool, I would be very hesitant to recommend).


This update is version, up from on the Moto X. It will likely be compatible with the DROID Mini, MAXX, and Ultra on Verizon someday, but since you need Android 4.4, don't expect the update to roll out to those devices just yet.

What's new:

  • More Google Now commands now work without having to unlock your phone first. Personal information such as emails, messages, and contacts are still protected by your PIN or password.
  • Say your pin to unlock your phone when using Touchless Control
  • New listening tone when you say "OK Google Now"
  • Compatible only with Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Bug fixes

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Wazzifer

    I wish that was available on my Note 3 =(

    • Roemraw

      I wish it was available for all phones.

  • sivkai

    If they released Touchless Control as a paid app, I would be soooo happy.

    But seriously, why don't they make it available for eligible handsets? Doesn't the Nexus 5 have the Snapdragon processer to perform background listening?

    • Brad

      Nope, there's a little separate processor, if I understand correctly, that handles the listening portion

      • Simon Belmont

        The Snapdragon 800 has a low-power language (listening) core. It can do the same thing that the Moto X can do, even while asleep.

        See see the section that says "Technology that listens to you": http://www.qualcomm.com/snapdragon/processors/800 .

        • kashtrey

          Though true, I'm pretty sure the software would have to be optimized, which even if Motorola charged for the app wouldn't make the costs worth in when you're basically giving up one of your key product differentiating features .

          • Simon Belmont

            It likely would need to be optimized, yes. The X8 chip uses a different low-power language core than the Snapdragon 800, but they both achieve the same thing.

            As for product differentiation, you have remember that the Motorola devices get a lot more exposure than Google's Nexus devices because they also include the DROID branded ones. Google won't dent Motorola's sales by offering their own version of Touchless Control just by virtue that most people are more familiar with the DROID and MOTO branding than Nexus, IMO.

        • Brad

          oh, nice... thanks for this! I'm sure something'll be ported eventually, then. I wouldn't be surprised if motorola "sells" it to google.

    • rohail6

      It's got a separate core in the CPU JUST for listening, it's a hardware thing bro, but if they did release one for all phones it was be an easy battery drainer.

      • Simon Belmont

        I'm hoping that Google is working on its own version of touchless controls for Nexus devices. I mean, it would make a lot of sense for them to do it, so maybe a future major update to Android will have it, or just an update to Google Now/Search.

        Touchless control feels like the future to me. Can't wait.

        • kashtrey

          They'd have to bake it in with a hardware check to ensure that phones without the proper language processors don't listen to you all the time and kill your battery. But I do agree that Google will likely integrate this as a core part of Android at some point. Though I wonder if TC was something Motorola had cooking or was a gift from Google, if it's the former maybe they'll keep some exclusivity on the feature.

          • Simon Belmont

            I'm pretty sure we'll see Touchless Controls in stock Android soon enough. Perhaps in Android 5.0 (or 4.5, who knows), but I'm 100% certain the Nexus 5 will see it whenever it comes because of the low-power language core that its Snapdragon 800 has.

            I'm sure that Google will implement its Touchless Controls regardless of Motorola having their own Touchless Controls (but they'll work and look a bit differently to differentiate between the brands). After all, Nexus devices are still pretty niche (especially the phones) and sell in far fewer numbers, when compared to bigger names like Samsung and even HTC, so Google will want to do extra things to get them to buy their brand.

          • sivkai

            Damn I hope you are right...

        • Prez

          My personal opinion is that the N5 might be the last nexus phone released. Google now has a vehicle to spread it's vision of Android (motorola) and it wouldn't make any sense for them to put a lot of time into a phone that would end up competing against their own flagship phone (moto x) . I believe that's why Motorola assist & active notifications are exclusive to Motorola (well active notifications require an amoled screen but that's a different story) . There would be very little incentive for customers to pay an extra 250 dollars to get a moto x if the N5 had those features coupled with high end specs.

          • Simon Belmont

            But Google still treats Motorola like a separate brand for now (even if they eventually discontinue the Nexus program, which I doubt, but that's just my opinion). IMO, Google is not going to NOT forward its own implementation of Touchless Controls just because Motorola has their own version of it.

            Besides, like I said below, the Nexus brand is still pretty niche, and way more people have heard of the Moto and Droid (also has Touchless Controls) branding that Nexus. I don't think Google is going to dent the sales of the Moto X (and its successors) or the Moto Droids by implementing their own Touchless Controls, but again, that's just my opinion.

          • Guest

            I have to say, I like your personal opinion. Although I love Nexus, I'm absolutely LOVING how Motorola is reinventing itself as a Google company. Everything that they've put out so far after being bought by Google never seems like a waste, all of it has it's potential and seems like they've really thought it through. http://www.youtube.com/user/motorola/videos

            Although we're not gonna see anything happen until the Open Handset Alliance treaty abolishes in 5 years, until then Motorola is still seperate.

      • MindFever

        Not true. S800 has the same technology,where a core is reserved for this - low powered core. The software used by the moto x touchless control is however 3rd party. Android Police had an article about that. So it's because of software licensing not hardware (at least that's true for the Nexus 5...N4 however doesnt have the required hw)

    • Solust

      I would imagine they don't want to cause any problems with government agencies. Moto and Google are required to keep their Android and Moto division separate for (I think) 5 years from the merger. I doubt they want to give governments any reason to think that they might be working with Google's phone or Android divisions.

      • WestIndiesKING

        I don't know why no one remembers this. I felt like I was the only person that would bring this up when ever someone would complain about Google and moto relationship.

    • Ryan Stewart

      The N5 does have a separate coprocessor but it might be unique to the M8 setup and may not play nice with how they have the application setup.

  • spacekobra

    PIN number?
    Suffering from RAS Syndrome?

    • Roemraw

      lol, I read right over that.

    • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

      Face, meet palm. Fixed.

    • Darryl Doak

      Lol. I like the alternately used PNS Syndrome in that wiki. Personal identification number number syndrome syndrome.

      • spacekobra

        I didn't even see that. I missed out on a great opportunity.

    • TheLastAngel

      Thanks, now I now what a hypercorrective understanding of language is:-)

  • Brad

    Am I the only one that read the headline and thought it was a security issue... like "Haxx0rz can lissen 2 u from fone!"?

  • Ryan Stewart

    Son of a...

    I ended up with a code trying to help a coworker out and I was looking for reasons to prevent myself from using it. I have the GEL on my N4 but the ability to do things with the phone unlocked is pretty big.

  • squiddy20

    So now if a thief is nearby, hears you say your pin, and steals your phone, he/she can now unlock your phone too! Awesome!

    • WestIndiesKING

      I think they are hoping you are smart enough to not do what you mentioned. Maybe they were wrong ;)

  • naysayer

    "Computer, unlock phone. Authorization: Picard-Epsilon-7-9-3." :-D

    • MindFever

      thats Data using Piccard's voice! We are doooomed!

    • Brendan Dillon

      I would give a large sum of money to be able to change "OK Google Now" to a custom phrase.

  • IronManCC

    I can see where saying the PIN out loud would be REAL handy when you're alone in your vehicle.... ;-)