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Proof of Concept: Nexus 5 Can Easily Handle a Touchless Control-like Feature

We know you can only find Touchless Control on the Moto X, but the always-listening feature isn’t a Motorola exclusive. As a proof-of-concept, the developer behind Focal (the ex-CM camera app), showed off the Nexus 5 with an always-listening feature running in the background.Β 

Thanks to the Qualcomm processor powering the Nexus 5, the always-listening feature is completely doable on the Snapdragon 800 chipset, although the developer states that it is unstable and currently unreleasable for various reasons.

In order for this feature to be achieved, a few tweaks were made to Qualcomm’s audio chain found in the processor, but unfortunately, these changes are unpublishable due to licensing redistribution issues. Until Qualcomm is happy with third party developers tweaking their goodies, you won’t see this released to the public.

Guillaume Lesniak, the developer behind the concept, explains in his post on Google+ that the feature is indeed powered by the dedicated audio processing chip found on the Snapdragon 800.

This is indeed using the dedicated audio processing chip of the S800 – that’s the whole point of this PoC. The CPU is indeed turned off and isn’t used at all for the audio processing.

While it is only a proof of concept, it would be nice to see this functionality move to many more devices than just the Moto X. After all, it’s one of the reasons we love the Moto X so much.

Via: +Guillaume Lesniak
  • Simon Belmont

    I think we’ll see this in Android 4.5 or 5.0. Google is making Google Search / Now more conversational, so it makes sense to have it listening all the time.

    At the very least, I’m hoping to see them allow Google Search / Now be activated by Bluetooth when the screen is off. That’s a no-brainer and they’re half-way there as of the last couple updates to it.

  • For someone who sits in a cubicle, shared workspace, this kind of feature is almost useless to me. Just putting that out there.

  • Craig P

    Wouldn’t that mean the G2, WP8 Icon, or any S800 phone should be capable of this? I could see why Google wouldn’t implement this, to keep Moto separate, but why wouldn’t any other OEM implement this?

    • needa

      i would imagine it is because the best way to do it is the way moto did it. we dont know anything about the battery life of this thing being on all of the time. plus the guy said it was unstable.

  • Anthony Johnson

    Now who are going to purchase Moto X? As most of the people
    only due to this feature like the device but now availability of the same
    feature in Nexus 5 will definitely create negative impact on the market sale of
    Moto X.

    • needa

      this is not available on the nexus. and will not be until qualcomm is paid for distribution. it is in black and white up above. did you read it?

  • dizel123

    Moto X only? Funny, it works just fine on my Droid Ultra…

  • DER

    So can we assume this will work for the G2 too?

  • RoadsterHD1

    Does anyone know how to find or turn off the “emergency Alert” app. or settings. My brother can’t find the app on his Moto X

    • LionStone

      Should be under Wireless Networks > Cell Broadcasts or Emergency Broadcasts…

  • Joseph A. Yager

    If it works as well as Focal then I’d probably want to skip it.

  • sc0rch3d

    Touchless Controls on a Moto X are useless and rarely work (“OK GOOGLE NOW” is a nucking futz phrase in the first place). Focus more on Active Display features.

    • Todd Bettenhausen

      TC works very well on the Moto X for me.

    • sirmeili

      I rarely have an issue with Touchless control and the new “Ok Google Now, What’s up?” feature is great. I’ll agree that the phrase isn’t the best choice, but it is something that would be rarely said in normal conversation, which is why it works so well. I’ve even had it go off when telling someone “All I have to say is ‘Ok Google now’ and…. ” [ding]

    • Nikuliai

      wrong, I use the Touchless Controls almost every day (and 60% of the time I’m calling someone), Active Display doesn’t have much to improve, the fact they keep it simple is amazing.

      PS: if they use a frequent phrase as activation it would be pretty retarded, since the phone reacts when I’m explaining the catch phrase even when it’s far from me, so they need something useful and clear but that you won’t use often, I think they kinda nailed it, not gonna say “Ok Google Now” just because

  • Chris Stuart

    But, but but, the X8 is sooooo great because its the only chip set that can do this!

    • Ryan

      Not necessarily. Since the Moto X uses the dual-core S4 Pro, and these being described here being the 800 series. Qualcomm may have had these audio processing chips in most of their SoC’s probably, but using them was perhaps up to the OEM themselves. Motorola decided to take advantage of it with the first Moto X, as well as the DROID line.

      Grant it, it actually would be nice to see this kind of stuff in other phones. I’m sure Motorola can come up with something to keep it unique to the Motorola line.

    • sirmeili

      It is great. Would anyone be looking into doing this if Motorola had not put it in their phones? And currently, the X8 is the only one that can do this and do it reliably.

      It would be awesome if other Android phones did this or if it was a base android feature. Currently it’s not though so Motorola still has that advantage (IMHO). The fact that they keep adding to it is even better. I love the new “What’s Up?” feature they added last week.

      • xpyroxcorex

        Actually when Qualcomm announced the 800, the always listening was one of the things they were showing off. I thought it was a cool idea and kind of upsetting that none of the phones using the 800 actually have that feature.

        • imlip

          its typical for OEMs to not take advantage of things they are given… google now… always listening on the 800…. stock android. LOL

          • xpyroxcorex


    • Patrick Smithopolis

      The S4 does it too with S-Voice. The feature is never mentioned because no one wants to use S-Voice.

      • imlip

        s what? /s

  • Tony Spencer

    Touchless control is NOT only available on the Moto X. It is on the VZW Droid mini, ultra and maxx as well.

    • Good point, Tony! I forget those devices, and that’s my fault.

  • interstellarmind

    Touchless control added to the N5 will officially make it the best phone out there right now!

    • Steve B

      It doesn’t need it, it already has that crown.

    • Todd Bettenhausen

      Anyone who states that something is definitively “best” risks credibility. Users have different needs; nothing is “best” for everyone.

      • Nikuliai

        The Moto X is THE BEST for me, do I risk credibility?

  • mustbepbs

    “although the developer states that it is unstable and currently unreleasable for various reasons”

    Never stops Google.


    • David


    • Ghgore

      Lol πŸ˜€

  • WickedToby741

    Perhaps the next generation Moto X will have an 805 or 800 instead of a customer solution like the X8.

    • malcmilli

      the Moto X has put an S4 Pro inside of their X8 architecture… so theoretically you can put an s800 inside of the x8 architecture as well. Dont need to get rid of the x8 in order to have the 800.

      • NBM

        Indeed. I remember reading (I think Moto themselves said) that the X8 was designed to move forward in such a way.

      • Kevin

        Knowing Moto they might go with a 600 to keep the cost down. Of course that was the old Moto.

        • Jason B

          The current Moto X already uses most of the S600 hardware inside the MSM8960Pro die, FYI. It’s only missing the 2 extra CPU cores and LPDDR3 support. Already has Krait 300 from the S600 and 24ALU Adreno 320 (2nd gen), also from the S600. Qualcomm must’ve been very accommodating.

          Just call it a dual-core S600 already.

      • WickedToby741

        Yeah, I realize calling the X8 a custom architecture might be a stretch, but if the 800/805 processors support this, why include the separate TI co-processors for a next gen Moto X?

  • epps720

    Dragon does the same thing. I have been using it in my car for driverless controls for years. I understand this version should be better on the battery which is great, not sure how much battery Dragon wastes but it does work great.

  • Grizzy

    You guys need to read better. This doesn’t have much affect on battery life. “The CPU is indeed turned off and isn’t used at all for the audio processing.?”

    • grumpyfuzz

      It’s probably ignorant moto fanboys that don’t want to hear that

      • JoshGroff

        Not all of us fanboys are ignorant. πŸ˜‰

        • grumpyfuzz

          You’re right, some are and some aren’t. I wasn’t trying to imply that every single moto fanboy is ignorant.

      • Todd Bettenhausen

        I’m tired of this kind of brand-bickering and sniping here, whether it be phone hardware or carriers.

        • Nexoduss

          Shutup fanboy!

    • needa

      how much power does the audio chip use to stay on 24/7? that is the question, and the reason statements like yours should not be made without the data to back it up.

      • michael arazan

        You’d think just tweaks to the software would be suffice just to get the same or close results to the Moto X.

      • Grizzy

        Hence why I said doesn’t have much affect instead of no affect. Apparently you need to read better too.

    • Jason B

      Maybe, maybe not. It really just depends on implementation. It’s obviously doable, but the Moto X uses the Texas Instruments TMS320C55 DSP (NLP processor) even though the MSM8960Pro has a version of Qualcomm’s Hexagon DSP inside the SoC as well (2 modem threads, 1 multimedia thread, 200MHz each). So, why’d they go that route? Probably because it added a layer of flexibility and extra power savings. Ti is also more user friendly than Qualcomm, and has close ties with Moto. You’ll have to ask their engineers about that if they ever have a Q&A session.

      Offloading sensor data to Ti MSP430 provides even more savings and relieves the CPU of any data processing for the sensors. This is also how they use Active Display as the accelerometer and proximity sensors are always active in ultra-low power mode via this DSP.

      • Grizzy

        I’m going off their statement which says the CPU is turned off during the process.

  • Alec

    There’s a reason why its only on the Moto X – it has hardware specifically enhanced for the software so the battery life doesn’t drain. I’m sure a lot of readers have heard of the X8 computing system on the Moto X so that these touchless control and active display functions work well while maintaining great battery life

  • flybass

    who cares? isn’t the point that the moto x can do this and use less power? This must suck down juice like crazy.

  • Battery life is probably a killer on a device known for it’s less than stellar battery life though

    • Menger40

      It says it’s using the low power audio processing chip in the S800 and not the all-purpose CPU cores, which is the same thing the Moto X does, except the Moto X is doing it on an older S4 pro instead of an S800.

      • I was mainly referring to the display, as the nexus 5 is an LCD display and doesn’t have nearly the power savings as the Moto X does which only lights up the pixels it needs to. I’m referring mainly to the photo chosen in the article.

        • Jeff C

          You are confusing Touchless Control and Active Display. Two separate apps and purposes.

        • MK17

          Not sure what that has to do with the article, The picture is not of the Active Display and the article is not about it either.

  • Greg Morgan

    I think Google would love to implement this, I just think they didn’t want to blatantly copy the Moto X. Especially since they kept saying Moto was a private company. Now that Moto is not theirs, you may see this sooner rather than later.

    • xpyroxcorex

      I wouldn’t say it was to not copy them rather than compete with them. Moto x was motos and moto is googles. Now they probably don’t care, like you said.

      • joseph barrientos

        your comment confused me….

        • xpyroxcorex

          Google wouldn’t want the nexus 5 to compete with the moto x since google owned Motorola, but now that they don’t they probably don’t care and will add the feature in (hopefully).

          • joseph barrientos

            haha thanks! and ya, i can see that, but to implement a simple “ok google” from lock screen to activate google now, i dont think would conflict that much. It just brings it to the lock screen rather than the launcher.

      • Ghgore

        Actually Lanovo bought Motorola πŸ˜€

        • Ghgore

          I think I spelled Lanovo wrong, but whatever πŸ˜€

        • xpyroxcorex

          Yes lenovo bought moto. That’s why I’m sayed they probably don’t care to implement that feature into the nexus 5. Which hopefully happens.

    • michael arazan

      Moto was run independently, it was theirs, and I’m sure they own the copyright to the software as well.

  • Menelaus

    So basically these guys just demonstrated why Moto will fiercely fight to keep this tech on their devices and theirs alone.

    • KingofPing


      Who? πŸ˜‰