If you’re in the market for a great new Android device, hands-down, the Moto X (2014) deserves your attention. Earlier this week we detailed many of the flagship phone’s hardware and software features in our full review, making a case for why we believe the all new Moto X could be the best Android smartphone on the market.
With an overall score of 4.6 out of 5, we’re sure many of you know a good thing when you see it and pulled the trigger on a custom Moto X through Motorola’s site. One thing we didn’t have time to cram into our full review was a quick list of the first things you should upon powering up the Moto X for the first time. With devices landing on doorsteps as early as today (and available at Verizon locations), your friends at Phandroid.com got ya covered.
1. Make or login with a Google account
This one is a bit obvious, but if you’re new to this whole Android thing, you’re going to need to make a Google account to take advantage of all the apps and services your phone has to offer. You know, like having universal sign if for Google apps, tracking your phone if it gets lost, or simply downloading applications to your device (unless you go the Amazon route, which is a whole different story). First things first: make a Google account here.
After that, once you’ve powered up your brand new Moto X, you’ll be taken through the setup wizard which will eventually ask you to sign into your existing Google account, or ask you to make a new one. This can be skipped, but it’s better to do it right now. Once signed in, depending on your model Moto X, you’ll be asked to set up Google Now, which we’d also recommend accepting right there and then.
Soon after, you’ll find a notification asking you to set up a Motorola account. We’d recommend skipping it because many of the benefits of having a Motorola account mimic features of having a Google account. It’s needless and you wont be missing out on anything.
2. Update system apps on Google Play / Adjust Play Store settings
Now that you’ve successfully made it to your home screen, the first order of business is to update all the Google and Motorola apps that came pre-installed by diving into the Google Play Store. Since Google and Motorola have been so busy lately, there’s a good chance more than a few of them are out of date.
When open the Play Store, swipe from the left edge of the screen to open up the sidebar menu. From there select “My apps” to see all the apps installed on your Moto X, as well as the ones that are in need of updating. Before selecting “Update all,” you may want to make sure you’re connected to WiFi.
While those are all busy updating, you may want to strongly consider jumping into the Play Store settings (located by swiping the sidebar menu again) and turn off app auto updates. At the very least, you can set it to only update when connected to WiFi (recommended), or if you have an unlimited, uncapped data plan, you can always auto-update apps at any time. As for us, we prefer being in full control and love seeing when new updates are available, checking out “what’s new” in the app’s listing, then clicking update.
While you’re in your Google Play Store settings, now would also be a good time to change the duration of how often you have to enter your password when downloading paid apps from the Google Play Store located under “Require password for purchases.” If you have kids who are always on your phone, we’d recommend selecting the option “for all purchases through Google Play on this device.”
3. Setup lock screen with security and contact info
With that out of the way, we can now get into securing your device. Your Moto X has a variety of ways of pulling this off, whether it be by password (most secure), PIN code (moderately secure), pattern lock, or Face unlock (low security). You can see exactly how to enable lock screen security in the screenshots above.
No matter your preference, you might also want to consider putting your contact info on the lock screen in the event a good Samaritan actually wants to return your smartphone (and not keep it for themselves). It only makes sense to make this as easy for them as possible.
Should you forgo all the above mentioned methods of securing your smartphone and end up losing it somewhere down the road, don’t worry. You can still lock your device by visiting the Google’s Android Device Manager from any computer, or downloading the app on to someone else’s phone here. Simply click the “lock” button and you’re good to go. You can even add a full recovery message begging for the safe return of your phone and a number they can call you from straight from your lost phone. Awesome.
4. Setup trusted Bluetooth devices
We get it — having to unlock your device every single time you want to use it for a few seconds is a huge inconvenience. This is reason many users don’t secure their phones with a lock screen to begin with. Wouldn’t it be great if your phone knew when it was near you or someplace “safe,” and would only use passwords or patterns when you’re out and about or away from you? With the Moto X, this isn’t future stuff — it’s a reality.
In your Moto X’s security settings, you can actually setup “trusted” Bluetooth devices. This means whenever you are connected to these devices, your phone will remain unlocked. It could be anything from a Bluetooth speaker you have in your home, or that fancy new Android Wear smartwatch you have on your wrist. When your phone is no longer connected to the devices you specify, it will remain locked and secure.
5. Turn on (or off) Attentive Display
Your Moto X has been equipped with low power IR sensors on the front that, aside from detecting your when your hand is near, can also detect your face. That’s right, using a new feature called Attentive Display, the new Moto X is “smart” enough to know when the screen should be on, and when it shouldn’t — simply by checking to see if you’re looking at it.
Attentive Display has 2 options, the first — “stay on while I’m looking” — will keep the display on for as long as you’re looking at the phone. This is independent of your screen timeout settings. Hypothetically, this means your screen timeout can be set to something small like 15 seconds, but your phone’s display wont turn off if you’re reading an article, or watching a video.
The other mode — Battery saver mode — can also detect your looking at the phone, turning off the display quicker when it doesn’t see you. This should help battery savings given a powered on display can suck up a lot of your smartphone’s juice.
While it hasn’t been tested, having IR sensors constantly looking at your mug is sure to have some impact on battery life, no matter how minimal. Even if it’ll only get you an extra 5 minutes of battery life, you should at least know where to go to turn these features off.
6. Set up the Moto app to unlock new features
Some of the most helpful features of the Moto X are located in the new Moto app. When opened, Moto will give you a quick rundown of its abilities and seeing as how it needs permission special access to your phones hardware and data, will require you to opt in first. Once you select “Yes, I’m in,” you’re on your way to unlocking your Moto X’s true potential.
Once you’ve agreed to the terms, the first thing the app will do is ask you to set up voice commands. Just find a very quiet place and follow the onscreen directions. After that, opening the Moto will always pull up the Moto Voice function right off the bat (like S Voice or Siri), but the app also acts as a hub for Motorola’s other contextual apps, found after clicking the small gear icon in the upper corner.
There are four main apps that you’ll need to set up, with their names and descriptions down below.
- Moto Actions: Utilizing the IR sensors located on the front of the device, Actions allows users to interact with the new Moto X using simple gestures (I guess this is why they ditched the name of the Touchless Control app). Wave a hand above the new Moto X to silence calls and/or alarms. You can even launch the camera when the phone is sleeping by flicking your wrist twice.
- Moto Voice: Essentially audio monitoring for your smartphone, Moto Voice gives users the ability to wake their devices using a simple voice command — totally hands free. New for the Moto X (2nd Gen), you can now create your own custom voice prompt. Anything from “Hi-Yo, Silver. Away!” to “OK, Jarvis.” There’s new actions too, with the ability to post a status updates to Facebook, messages in Whatsapp, or even check your <insert carrier here> usage. It’s limited, but we expect more apps will be supported in the future.
- Moto Assist: It’s one of those handy features that sounds like it would have found itself already baked into Android by now. Whether you’re driving, in a meeting or back home, Moto Assist can change your phone’s behavior to do your bidding automagically. Driving? Assist will read your text messages aloud. In a meeting? Assist will mute the ringer so you’re not interrupted. Set up your own quiet hours and you can even whitelist certain callers (or anyone calling in rapid succession) for emergency situations.
- Moto Display: For the all new Moto X, Motorola has rebranded their Active Display app as Moto Display. Like a smart lock screen on top of the normal Android lock screen, Display will “breathe” notifications as they arrive, allowing you to peek at them using only a finger. An improved version of last year’s Active Display, Moto Display can even detect when your hand is near (IR sensors), activating before you even touch it.
One of the best parts about all of these applications is that they’re found in the Google Play Store, so make sure you’re regularly checking for new updates as they can occasionally bring new features and/or bug fixes.
7. Download/activate Google Wallet
Sure iPhone users are all excited about finally making mobile payments and they should be. It’s a feature Android users have been enjoying for years now and while there are a variety of mobile wallet apps you can find on the Google Play Store that allow this, we recommend going with Google Wallet. If you’re buying apps and games on the Play Store already, chances are it has all your info ready to go and set up is a breeze.
Now, jump into your Settings app, scroll down and select “Tap & pay” and choose Google Wallet. If you’re using a carrier branded Moto X (from AT&T or Verizon or wherever), you’ll notice it came pre-installed with Softcard (previously Isis Mobile Wallet). Just ignore it because nobody wants to mess with that.
8. Use all black wallpaper for battery savings
The Moto X comes equipped with a beautiful AMOLED display that, not only produces more vibrant colors and higher contrast, but brings with it an added power draw benefit as well. Different from traditional LCD displays, AMOLED doesn’t need light up individual pixels when displaying black images, saving some precious battery life as a result. This is a reason why the Moto Display lock screen feature is supposed to be so battery friendly.
To further extend this to your home screen, you can choose to either use extremely dark wallpapers, or if you wanna get real crazy, just go with a completely blacked out one. Since the Moto X doesn’t make any available, you can download a pure black wallpaper for your Android here or check out our post with a handful of dark wallpapers for AMOLED devices.
Once downloaded, you can set a wallpaper by long pressing a blank area of your home screen, then choosing Wallpapers > Pick image > and selecting that dark or pure black wallpaper you just downloaded. Easy peasy.
9. Speed up animations
There’s no denying the new Moto X is one of the fastest smartphones on the market. Heck, we’d even go as far as saying in terms of real world speed, there isn’t a faster smartphone on the market (for now). Even then, did you know there’s a way you can make the phone feel even snappier and more responsive? Trust us, you’ll want to try out this next trick.
All you have to do this is to enable super top secret “Developer options” hidden in the Moto X Settings app. Simply open the app, scrolling down to “About device,” then pressing on “Build Number” a total of 7 times (you’ll see a countdown). Once finished, you’ll see a toast appear letting you know that you are now a “developer.” Okay, not really but you now have access to a few new hidden settings.
Return to the main Settings area and scroll down to the bottom where you’ll find a new option for “Developer options.” It’s not as scary as it sounds, we promise. Once inside, locate the window animation scale, transition animation scale, and animator duration scale, settings and set all of them to .5x to speed everything up, or animation off if you’re feeling really balsy. Make sure Developer options are turned “On” at the top of the screen, exit and you’re all set.
10. Apps to get you started
We went ahead and compiled a quick list of some of our “must-have” applications we download to every single Android device we ever purchased. Most of these are simply replacing some of the stock Google or Motorola apps already found on the device (like that awful camera), but because we like these better, we think they’re worth checking out.
- MyRoll (Gallery replacement)
- Google Camera (Camera replacement)
- Nova Launcher (Home screen replacement)
- Noyze (Volume controls)
- My Paid Apps (View paid app purchase history)
- Push Bullet (Get Android notifications on your computer)
- Viral Lite (Floating YouTube player)
That’s all, folks!
And that should pretty much cover everything you should do as a brand new Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) owner. Of course, this is not an end-all-be-all list, but we think it should cover, at the very least, some of the more important stuff.
Should you have any more questions, feel free to drop a comment and/or check out our brand new Moto X (2014) forums on AndroidForums.com. It’s there you’re sure to find people always willing to lend a helping hand with any questions, issues or just general chatter you have about your shiny new Moto X. Cheers.