10 Things That Set the New DROIDs Apart from Other Android Phones

On Tuesday Verizon and Motorola announced three new DROID Android smartphones: the DROID ULTRA, DROID MAXX and DROID MINI. CIO.com's Al Sacco shares insight into the new smartphones and breaks down 10 things that differentiate them from other popular Android devices.

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Wed, July 24, 2013

CIO — This week, Verizon Wireless and Motorola announced a brand new family of DROID Android smartphones.

The three DROIDs -- the DROID ULTRA, DROID MAXX and DROID MINI -- are all Verizon exclusives, and they're available for preorder today on DROIDDoes.com. The new DROIDs will available in Verizon Wireless retail stores starting August 20.


Verizon's New Family of DROIDs
Verizon's New Family of DROIDs

The three new devices are unique in design and functionality. And the handsets have a number of noteworthy new DROID features. I was on the scene in Manhattan for the Verizon event yesterday, and I spent time with all three new devices. Check out the following breakdown of the new Verizon and Motorola family of DROIDs, along with hands-on images and video, for details on what makes them unique and why you might want to make a new DROID your next smartphone.

1) The New DROIDs and 'Touchless Control'

Voice-control features are nothing new for Android, but Motorola's take, called "Touchless Control," is unique. Touchless Control integrates with Google Now, which is available on all Android Jelly Bean devices.

When new DROID users set up Touchless Control, they can "train their voices" so that the DROIDs specifically recognize their voice and respond only to them. (Or at least thats the idea; in practice, it may not work that well. More on that coming up.)

After you train your DROID to recognize the tone and cadence of your voice, you can wake it up by speaking, "Okay, Google," which is the trigger command for Google Now. Unlike other Android devices with Google Now functionality, you don't need to unlock or wake your DROID to launch Google Now. The DROIDs recognize your voice and are immediately ready for commands.

All three new devices also have two DROID-specific Touchless-Control features not available on other Android gadgets. First, you can tell Google Now to activate you mobile hotspot so you don't have to touch the device and open your settings. And, if you lose or misplace your device, you can tell the DROIDs to "call you." So, for example, if your device falls down the side of the couch, you can loudly tell your DROID to "Call My DROID." If it can "hear" you, it will sound a loud tone. Of course, if your device is out of range -- say, in the car or in another room with the door closed -- this feature won't be particularly useful.

Sounds cool, right? The only problem: It didn't work as advertised. When the Motorola representative attempted to show that his DROID would only recognize his voice, he asked someone else to try to speak to it. And it recognized the person's voice. The rep was clearly a bit embarrassed and attributed the issue to all the noise in the room. Either way, the feature didn't really seem to work.

I also asked about the security implications of being able to access device features and functionality without unlocking the handset. The rep repeatedly stressed that you must first opt in to use any of the Google Now and Touchless-Control features -- which basically means that you assume all liability when you choose to use them. So, from a security standpoint, Touchless Control may not be something you want to bank on. But it's still a cool idea.

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