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Summary:

Was the touchless control feature of the Moto X a preview of what’s to come in Android 4.4? Yes says one report and I’m inclined to agree for several reasons related to hardware, user input on mobile devices and Googles wearable ambitions.

Moto X touchless control

Among the many leaked screenshots, videos and lists of specifications for the Nexus 5, the most interesting anticipated feature to me is the rumored “always listening” functionality. After all, most of the hardware and user interface tweaks are expected improvements in Google’s flagship phone: a better camera with optical image stabilization, transparent notification bar and speedy Snapdragon 800 chip wouldn’t be surprises.

Nexus 5

As the Moto X and Moto Droid Ultra phones show, however, there’s real Google innovation going on when it comes to turning a smartphone into a hands-free personal assistant. That’s why the suggestion of touchless controls on the Nexus 5 from TuttoAndroid, an Italian blog with loads of reported Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 information, has me intrigued and expecting the feature to be a highlight of both the Nexus 5 and the next version of Android.

Not everyone sees value in the touchless controls on the newest Motorola phones; the first with Google design input. I can understand: Some folks may not want to speak to their phone in a public setting or would rather type and swipe through Android to get things done. I personally find the feature innovative and empowering, using it a dozen or more times each day.

Moto X touchless control

From a hardware standpoint, it’s actually plausible that the Nexus 5 does include the feature. The handset is all but certain to run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 system on a chip (SOC) and that silicon natively supports something called “Voice activation enabled by Snapdragon“. Here’s a video demo captured by FoneArena earlier this year:

It’s likely that the functionality comes from a low-powered Digital Signal Processor, which is how it’s implemented on the new Moto phones. And from Qualcomm’s perspective, it’s simply the entry point for voice activation, meaning: Developers will have to decide what to do with the voice commands.

Google has already done that, first through Google search and Google Now and more recently, with the touchless controls on its new Motorola phones. Samsung could leverage this with its S-Voice feature as well, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see HTC add such a function to its Sense software.

The point is Google has this technology working well now. And I think the company feels it’s a showcase feature as we move beyond the standard user interface and towards more natural methods of input. That’s what the Nexus line is all about: Providing a showcase of Android technologies for hardware partners to take and use going forward.

projectglass1

Intelligent voice interaction also ties into Google’s other current and potential products: Voice is a main input for Google Glass and I’m anticipating it would also be a big part of any Google smartwatch initiative. It’s also vastly improved from early approaches where phones would listen for key commands and could only interpret pre-programmed or recorded phrases.

If I were a betting man, I’d lay odds on the Nexus 5 always listening for your spoken command. And it won’t likely be the only phone to add that feature because I expect it be a part of Android 4.4: Google’s next step towards bringing more smarts to your smartphone.

  1. Lets just call it what it is the NSA 5 instead of Nexus 5. They dont let you have a removalable battery that way they can always listen like apple no micro Sd either that way they know whats on your phone at all times. Next one will have Finger print scanner cost prohibited on this 5th Generation…

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    1. Yeah, why not read up on googles attitude on the NSA before posting something so blatantly stupid

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      1. Listen Alessandro I let you do that.
        I’ll read what Google gets busted for left and right.
        What Google Says and What Google Does are Two DIFFERENT THINGS!

        1.Google Accused of Wiretapping
        By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
        SAN FRANCISCO — Wiretapping is typically the stuff of spy dramas and shady criminal escapades. But now, one of the world’s biggest Web companies, Google, must defend itself against accusations that it is illegally wiretapping in the course of its everyday

        2.Google: don’t expect privacy when sending to Gmail
        Critics call revelation ‘a stunning admission’ as Google makes claim in court filing in attempt to head off class action lawsuit

        3. Google Glass sees all and that’s a worry *Los Angeles Times Sunday, 8/18/13
        The digital goggles could be the next must-have gadget if they can overcome privacy concerns and the stigma of being labeled as a ‘Segway for your face’

        4.Google faces paying out ‘billions of dollars’ after appeal court rules privacy campaigners can sue over illegal data gathering with its Street View cars
        U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upholds federal court’s ruling
        Firm is being sued by users who claim their privacy was violated by Google Street View cars which gathered information via Wi-Fi networks

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2417432/Google-broke-law-harvesting-data-peoples-homes-Street-View-cars.html

        5. Why Google’s Spying on User Data Is Worse than the NSA’s * Huffington Post 07/01/2013 4:06 pm *Illegal Corporate Data Collection *The Harm to Users from Corporate Misuse of Personal Data * Targeting Consumers for Financial Ruin *Bottom-Feeders Exploiting User Data Online etc

        Also Alessandro Google this … (CIA Spy Dishwasher) that’s your government.
        Google is a data Dump to the government. Use search engines like Duck Duck Go or Start page

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      2. Google employees are smart, dashing – brilliant. I have many friends that work there. Google also creates wondrous technology. But sadly employees at Google are simply money loving, self loving and egotistical for the most part – human. They consistently fail to see the vast amounts of evil things Google does, its blatant collusion with a US government which is a lying, executive kill ordering drone striking Police State – assisting other governments like China in suppressive efforts. The give lip service to ‘do no evil,’ but they are very focused on profits and supremacy and not on do no evil. Eric Schmidt is a very nasty hypocritical petty man who has shown time and time again a desire to help spy on John Q Public. For a company with decidedly the smartest people working there I see some of the worst levels and attitudes regarding corporate stewardship I have ever seen. Scary really. Google employees, rise up and make this company which is more powerful than 90% of the countries in the world do the right thing. All I have to say is if high pay and free food is enough for Google employees to excuse Google’s unacceptable behavior then freedom, liberty and natural rights are in big trouble.

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    2. It only “always listens” for a wake up command. The rest of it works in much the same way as it does today when you press the microphone to initiate a voice search.

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  2. Robert D Piechocki Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    It’s a data dump, not a government one… learn to tell the difference…

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    1. Google employees are smart, dashing – brilliant. I have many friends that work there. Google also creates wondrous technology. But sadly employees at Google are simply money loving, self loving and egotistical for the most part – human. They consistently fail to see the vast amounts of evil things Google does, its blatant collusion with a US government which is a lying, executive kill ordering drone striking Police State – assisting other governments like China in suppressive efforts. The give lip service to ‘do no evil,’ but they are very focused on profits and supremacy and not on do no evil. Eric Schmidt is a very nasty hypocritical petty man who has shown time and time again a desire to help spy on John Q Public. For a company with decidedly the smartest people working there I see some of the worst levels and attitudes regarding corporate stewardship I have ever seen. Scary really. Google employees, rise up and make this company which is more powerful than 90% of the countries in the world do the right thing. All I have to say is if high pay and free food is enough for Google employees to excuse Google’s unacceptable behavior then freedom, liberty and natural rights are in big trouble.

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  3. Oh… Sorry, sorry, Robert I didn’t open the blinds enough for you too see…
    Look Through this pretty PRISM Robert…

    1.Revealed: Google and Facebook DID allow NSA access to data and were in talks to set up ‘spying rooms’ despite denials by Zuckerberg and Page over PRISM project

    Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page both issued blustery statements over recent media reports they gave the National Security Agency officials access to their troves of user information.

    Now, sources tell the New York Times that both Facebook and Google discussed plans to create secure portals for the government ‘like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information’ with U.S. officials

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2337863/PRISM-Google-Facebook-DID-allow-NSA-access-data-talks-set-spying-rooms-despite-denials-Zuckerberg-Page-controversial-project.html

    2. NSA tracks Google ads to find Tor users

    The National Security Agency uses a bit of jiu-jitsu to turn the structure of Web ad networks against people who run Tor to remain anonymous.
    * you know you have no Bill of Rights any more.

    3. Even Powering Down A Cell Phone Can’t Keep The NSA From Tracking Its Location
    That’s why they don’t want removable batteries.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130723/12395923907/even-powering-down-cell-phone-cant-keep-nsa-tracking-its-location.shtml

    4. Goo Goo Again:
    Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls:Just when you think that we’re pretty tech savvy, companies like Google and Nokia file outlandish “forward-thinking” patents that make you feel like we’re all in a Star Trek episode. In the case of Google’s latest patent, it makes us feel like we’re in a police state.
    * They Said: Hey we’re only gonna listen to Background noise rain drop and traffic…LOL

    http://thenextweb.com/google/2012/03/21/google-wants-to-serve-you-ads-based-on-the-background-noise-of-your-phone-calls/

    5.The Obama administration has been caught spying on the Verizon phone calls of tens of millions of Americans. The spying effort specifically targeted Americans living on U.S. soil.

    And as NBC News reports:

    NBC News has learned that under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the U.S.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-monitoring-of-our-phone-calls-government-spooks-may-be-listening/5338103

    The problem is Google software in completely open to Government to use. I cant believe how people are watching the US become the Soviet Union.
    Land of the Free? No… Land of the surveilled
    Home of brave? No… Home of the apathetic

    4Th Amendment of the Bill of Rights :The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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  4. These comments are hilarious. Bust out the tin foil hats everyone!

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  5. I’m clearly alone here, but I’m disappointed to find that the Nexus 5 doesn’t actually have the fully touchless control of the Moto X. We know the S800 processor supports it, so why did Google leave it out? I sincerely hope its a temporary move to protect sales of the Moto X for a few more months and we’ll see this feature enabled in the near future.

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    1. Oh, you’re not alone. I’m disappointed to. I had hoped for feature parity on that. As a result, I think I’ll likely stick with my Moto X over the Nexus 5; I value the feature that much.

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