In an unusual turn, Google/Motorola launches Android 4.4 on Verizon variant of Moto X first

Moto X KitKat

Fresh from the Motorola Blog, it appears that Motorola will launch its first Android 4.4 KitKat update on Verizon first, with rollouts starting today. The KitKat update brings:

  • An improved phone dialer. Now you can search for contacts directly from the dial-pad and easily see and tap on those you contact frequently.
  • More gallery goodies. KitKat packs in some cool, new gallery effects—such as Posterize, Highlights, and Edges. You can even use the Draw feature to annotate your photos freehand with your finger.
  • New Hangouts app. All of your conversations now in one place—texts, video calls, and other chats all together in one app. Plus, you can now send animated gifs and share your location.
  • Color emojis. For when words aren’t enough, the Google Keyboard now includes colorful characters to send in text messages and other communications.
  • Drag to focus and expose. An updated camera app lets you control both the focus and exposure of your photos. Simply drag your finger to set just the right exposure and focus point.
  • And more… Restyled status and navigation bars, new full-screen mode, and enhancements to Motorola features like Touchless Control.

I say ‘unusual’ because Verizon is usually the last of the four US carriers to roll out Android updates, usually owing the increased wait to Verizon’s lengthier testing process.

Motorola and Verizon have an unusually close bond however with the Google-owned manufacturer now making all of the carrier’s Droid products as well as pioneering the Droid brand. I anticipate that other carrier versions will follow close behind.

Note that I’m still waiting on the 4.4 update to hit the Google Play edition HTC ONE, and even my Nexus 4 and 10!

I guess Google and Motorola are finally tearing down the firewall. Read more

Verizon releases video teasing new DROID devices, says that “When it matters, DROID DOES”

Verizon has just released a new video teasing its new Droid MAXX, Droid Ultra, and Droid Mini devices announced this morning. The video, in typical Verizon/Motorola fashion, is very robot-like. The video teases that “WHEN IT MATTERS, DROID DOES.”

The moments that matter offer no time to pause or stop, no room for bulk or bloat, and no chance to refuel. In those moments, the new lineup of DROID phones delivers.

The DROID Ultra and MAXX will be available on August 20 and the Droid Mini on August 29, with pre-orders starting today.  Read more

Motorola and Google to release stock Android phones with less overlay and smaller form-factor in second half of 2013

via skattertech.com

via skattertech.com

Since acquiring Motorola for $13 billion last May, Google has been expected to launch a Motorola smartphone running stock Android, but the most recent Google-branded Nexus 4 device was made in partnership with LG.

Motorola’s design chief Jim Wicks tells PC Mag, though, that Google and Motorola have been working closely during that time on multiple devices running stock Android with less overlay that we should expect later this year.

Read more

Google CEO hints about upcoming Motorola phone features

Larry Page

Google CEO Larry Page just wrapped up his opening comments during the company’s Q4 2013 earnings call taking place right now. While noting that “managing our supply better” is a priority (see Nexus 4 supply constraints), Page also hinted at some possible upcoming Motorola smartphone features. Page said Motorola is working on the following two areas: better batteries and impact-resistant designs.

I am excited about the business. In today’s multi screen world, the opportunities are endless.  Think about your device.  Battery life is a huge issue.  You shouldn’t have to worry about constantly recharging your phone.  When you drop your phone, it shouldn’t go splat.  Everything should be a ton faster and easier.  There’s real potential to invent new and better experiences.

Page also said Motorola’s new CEO, Dennis Woodside, has a built a “world-class team” that is currently exploring these new opportunities: Read more

Verizon rolls out updates for Droid RAZR, RAZR Maxx, XOOM LTE and XYBOARD tablet

Verizon Wireless began to roll out updates today for a slew of its devices. Motorola’s Droid RAZR, RAZR Maxx, and XOOM LTE users are witnessing a mass update to version 6.12.73 that includes improved data stability on hotspot, V CAST app preloaded, and more. Both versions of Motorola’s XYBOARD tablet are also experiencing an update today. The update “1.6.0M_279″ is almost the same, except for a stylus improvements that affect the 10.1 version. Like always, if you are not seeing the update, simply go to “Settings>About phone>System” to push them through.

Official release notes are available after the break (via Droid Life):

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Droid 4 makes appearance on Verizon website

The answer to the question of “what would happen if you slapped a keyboard on the back of a Droid Razor” just showed up for a brief moment on Verizon’s DroidDoes website.  The Droid 4 “only” has a 4-inch screen compared to the RAZR’s 4.3″ but pretty much everything else lines up the same.  Perhaps more importantly, yes, that is a 5 row keyboard (4 rows is for suckers) and of course the speedy LTE comes along too. DOES below. Read more

Review: Motorola Droid RAZR – The best Android device…yet


Motorola Ad

I’ve been enamored with the Droid RAZR since the unveiling event last month.  It is everything about the “anti-iPhone” Droid message multiplied by 100.  From the excellent commercials to the handsome styling to the robot-y motif.  Where Samsung and to a lesser extent HTC make efforts to assimilate to the smartphone (read: iPhone) norms, Motorola’s Droids try to differentiate.

On hardware alone, this is probably my favorite Android device so far.  It is incredibly thin but also much more sturdy than the typical Galaxy handset.  Somehow, however, it manages to be just as light.  Compared to HTC’s latest offerings (including the monstrous Beats Rezound that I am also testing now – see pictures) and frankly Motorola’s previous Droid Bionic, Droid X, this thing is in a totally different class.


Droid Bionic (right) is thicker at its thinnest point than the RAZR at its thickest

And about that Bionic.  Pity the people who bought that device in the previous months knowing that Amazon sells the Droid RAZR for $111 on launch with $100 gift card for tethering.  Effectively, that is the best Android phone you can have for $11… Read more

Verizon and Motorola hit the streets to hand out new Droid Razrs

It’s Droid Razr launch day today and in addition to a price tag of $111.11 ($11?) for today only on Amazon, Motorola also gave us a look into the engineering behind the device’s 0.28 inch “impossibly thin” design, and now Verizon is hitting the streets to hand out free Droid Razrs to probably the last remaining original Razr owners. You can check out our full review of the Motorla Droid Razr here.

Yesterday Verizon launched their ‘Payload’ commercial for the Razr where they continued with their typically masculine ad style in an ad appearing more like a Hollywood action movie trailer than the usual iPhone commercial clone.
Read more

Domo arigato, Matias Duarte explains Roboto

Curious about some of the details in why Google switched to their new Roboto type face in Ice Cream Sandwich? Matias Duarte, Android director, took to Google+ this evening to explain it in great detail. Switching from Droid type face to Roboto type face was mainly due in part to the higher pixel density screens, Matias explained. As screens get bigger, and more pixel dense, certain font schemes can lose their luster.

The other big part of the new type face was also due in part to the design strides Google is trying to make with Ice Cream Sandwich. You’ll notice in screenshots that fonts are much more crisp and tie in better with the rest of the UI.

The Android team is devoting themselves to continue working on the font, and the overall UI. We can’t wait to check it when we get our hands on the Nexus Prime in a few weeks.