04
Jun
a

Assist is one of the many clever features Motorola included with the Moto X. This service monitors conditions and triggers changes to your settings and preferences as needed. It's not as powerful as some third-party options, but it's build in at the system level. Today's update includes a few improvements, as well as the customary bug fixes.

2014-06-04 17.24.16

Here's the full changelog for Assist.

  • When you’re at home, Assist can now announce callers and incoming text messages
  • Improved driving detection using audio
  • Bug fixes!

The driving detection improvement seems pretty smart. The Moto X has always seemed fairly good about detecting driving, but this should speed things up as it's not relying entirely on location. The new voice features for home use look to be exactly what the device does when in driving mode, but apparently it's now available while not driving as well. It's not clear how you'd go about enabling this, though.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • James Ellis

    You setup a 'Home' address and it kicks in when the phones is inside the geofence.

  • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B

    After updating, you'll get a notification from Assist that leads you to the announcement as to what's changed. Once you click through that, the updated main page of the app includes a Home section with an option to set your home locations, and also for reading SMS and announcing phone calls. (I'd much rather have that as two separate options, but it's a start).

    • Lays

      moto x or g?

      • http://bjunity.org/ Bill B

        Moto X, 16GB

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. Separating those two would be MUCH nicer and easy to implement.

      Honestly, the best thing would be to allow that feature to be toggled on/off from a widget or something. For example, I'd get home, and toggle it on if I wanted it, or leave it off if I didn't, instead of having to check a box in the Assist app's settings.

  • Greg Neal

    new features aren't available on the moto g :(

    • h4rr4r

      The moto g lacks the always on hardware.

      • Lays

        Which hardware is requiered for using a geofence? xD

        • vgergo

          GPS

      • Simon Belmont

        Yeah, but Assist could still announce incoming callers or your notifications on the Moto G. That doesn't require it to be always on.

        The always on part is more about listening for voice activation or the orientation or motion of the device. Neither of those are needed to read you back texts or announce callers as they come in.

  • Justtyn Hutcheson

    For the record, you enable the "Home" profile like the rest; open the app, and tell it where your home is. I assume it sets up a permanent geofence around your home, and activates when you enter and deactivates when you leave and/or when driving mode activates.

    • morteum

      Yeah, exactly. What's weird is I turned it on and put in the address a few hours before I got home, but once I got home it took almost an hour for the notification to show up. I wonder if there is something up with my location services. Also, hopefully Wi-Fi networks are included in a future update. I'm surprised it isn't already included.

  • CodeMonkey

    Shame that I can't adjust the geofence size - I've had to finally get around to correcting my address with Google Maps

  • usamaisawake

    I noticed then when I was working on the wife's car. I started the car up and my Moto X went into driving mode. The audio must be listening for the engine's hum. Amazing!! I posted about this on my recent blog entry too. It's a bit bias :-) http://usamaisawake.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/moto-x-is-the-best-of-2013/

    • David Fleck

      Too bad for Tesla driving Moto X owners

      • usamaisawake

        ha, nice, though I don't feel TOO bad for them since they have a tesla; And anyway their Moto X will fall back to previous methods (motion detection + GPS data)

    • David Becker

      I doubt it is listening for an engine hum. Most likely it is tieing into location services to determine if you are moving or not.

      • usamaisawake

        Prior to June that's what it did, used location services. The driving detection would take a few seconds to sometimes a minute and relied on GPS data too. However, as I mentioned in my original post, I was only working on my wife's car, not driving it. I was replacing a valve and needed to start the car to check the OBD computer. Simply starting the engine triggered the driving mode. Around June the Assist app requested access to the microphone, and I wondered why, my best guess is it uses audio detection to figure that out.

        • David Becker

          It could be. I guess a simple way to figure it out is to turn it on and play an engine starting on your computer to see if it triggers driving mode.

          • usamaisawake

            I'll experiment. But I'm confident that this is the case, if it didn't work with an audio clip I wouldn't think that this wasn't the case, I think it'd just be a false negative. On June 4 2014 Motorola updated their "Motorola Assist" app and specifically mentioned that they "Improved driving detection using audio" -- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.motorola.contextual.smartrules2 -- A description posted by other websites states: "Also included with this Motorola Assist update is improved driving detection, which is achieved using the phone’s microphone to detect vehicle and road sounds. " http://news360.com/article/242278744

          • usamaisawake

            Also I had to re-read this AP article because it's been so long. But this is exactly what the AP article mentions too, written by Whitam: "The driving detection improvement seems pretty smart. The Moto X has always seemed fairly good about detecting driving, but this should speed things up as it's not relying entirely on location." -- Anyway it's a brilliant update because it recognizes driving so much more quickly.

  • vgergo

    If you'd like to have notifications announced when you are in or away from your car (while doing sports?), you can try the app Touchless Notifications by DYNA Logix. This app works on any newer Android device, and does two things:
    - you can have incoming notifications read-out as they come in
    - it can give you a summary of active notifications like the "What's up" feature on MotoX

    There are tons of options, whether you want the notifications also to be shown full screen, which apps' notifications to exclude, in what circumstances you want announcements etc.

    If you are interested there is a free version you can try: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hu.viczian.notifications.free
    It's fairly new and unknown, that's why I try to bring it up for people to try.

  • KERR

    How does this handle if you catch the bus, or if you're a passenger in a car etc?

  • Simon Belmont

    It would be nice if you could just toggle the announcing of calls and texts on or off via a widget or even a voice command at your convenience. I understand that a geofence turns it on once you get home.

    I wouldn't want it ALWAYS announcing that stuff when I got home. Just my two cents.

  • gsDroid

    If I don't leave GPS turned on, I keep getting notifications about Assist not being able to detect driving. I have the notification option set to 'off'. How do I disable getting that notification? Also, I have a completely workable bluetooth pairing for talk and music streaming. Even if I have gps on, Assist does not add the device. Any options to get it to add?