(CNET) -- The Android-gossip consensus is that we'll see a Nexus 5 running Android 4.4 KitKat revealed on Tuesday, yet we've heard of no confirmation or official invites to any unveiling.
Whether the big debut of the next pure Google phone has been pushed
back or not, there's one killer feature I expect to see in the next
Nexus that hasn't been directly addressed by the multitude of leaks -- the touchless control capability we've already come to know through Motorola's Moto X and latest Droids.
Voice control assistants like Google Now and Apple's Siri didn't
revolutionize our relationships with our devices and the wider digital
world overnight, but Google continues to play the long game on the
concept. With touchless control, Motorola and Google upped the ante in
the quest for that holy grail of Silicon Valley buzzwords that means
nothing to most normal humans -- frictionless user interaction.
By my estimation, it's no coincidence that Google-owned Motorola
rolled out touchless control on its flagship phones in advance of the
consumer release of
Just as the original iPhone introduced iOS, established a cultural
comfort level with touch-based interaction, and paved the way for the
success of the
and a whole new way of computing, Google surely hopes touchless control
will act as a societal primer for a brave new world in which we all walk
around communicating and accessing data by talking to our glasses.
Given all this, it seems like a no-brainer to me that Google would
include touchless control as a key feature in its next reference-design
Nexus device. According to Motorola, the secret sauce behind touchless
control in the
Moto X is
its "X8" computing system that features "two low-power cores" that are
always listening for the user's voice to give the "OK, Google Now"
command to activate it.
Teardowns of the Moto X reveal that the
"X8" is essentially a Snapdragon-based custom system on a chip
consisting of four GPU cores, a dual-core CPU, and then the two
low-power cores. The Snapdragon 800 that the Nexus 5 is rumored to be
based on is a different animal, but as GigaOm points out, the hardware should be natively capable of running touchless control.
because the Snapdragon 800 has basically incorporated the same
always-listening capability that Motorola custom-built into the X8 --
Qualcomm calls it "voice activation." Right now there are three phones
on the market running the Snapdragon 800 -- Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, and the LG G2, which is rumored to be what the LG-made Nexus 5 is based on.
The waiting game
On the Note 3, Samsung's S voice is not as impressive as Moto's
touchless control; it's built to work best with Samsung's native apps
rather than Google's. Sony's Xperia Z Ultra isn't sold by any U.S.
carriers, and Sony's own marketing makes no mention of voice activation
capabilities, while the LG G2 uses third-party software called Voice
Mate for the same functions, which CNET's reviewers found to be nearly useless.
other words, Google seems to be the only Snapdragon 800 client with an
interest in pushing voice activation as a major feature. I'm banking
we'll hear a lot about it at the release of the Nexus 5, but then again,
I've been disappointed in the past -- I'm still a little shocked at the
lack of LTE on the Nexus 4.
So now all we can do is wait.
Before the October 15 date popped up, I was hearing that Nexus 5
availability was more likely to happen closer to the end of the month,
which could make sense for a Halloween trick-or-treat tie-in given the
introduction of Android KitKat.