A Guide to Motorola Apps for Android

Moto enhancements: Moto Assist

Moto Assist

Motorola offers a handful of features that it calls Moto enhancements. Enabling these features means your smartphone can get to know you and your habits. It doesn't go quite as far as Google Now, which digs into your calendar and web searches and navigation requests to predict what you're doing on any given day, though it shares some features.  To start, fire up the Moto app that's pre-loaded on your phone, and go into the settings by clicking the stars icon on the top right.

The first option is Moto Assist, which, when enabled, can detect when you're driving, when you're sleeping, when you're at home and when you're at work. I first discovered this feature when my Moto X Pure Edition kept telling me to go to sleep at 11pm, even though I'm a night owl and usually go to bed much later. After a few taps, I figured out that I could set my own sleep time, and then tweak settings such as keeping the screen off while sleeping, and saying which notifications, if any, can interrupt me in the night.

You can also profiles for driving and for meetings. When driving, you can keep your smartphone quiet, have it read out text messages and tell you who's calling. You can also link it up to a preferred music service and have the device play music over Bluetooth. For meetings, you have to link up your calendar, and then the smartphone will limit distracting notifications or silence itself altogether.

Moto Actions

Moto Actions

Moto Actions is also an option in the Moto app. Here, you can enable gestures to complete certain actions. Options include "chop twice for flashlight" and "twist for quick capture." I had a helluva time getting the flashlight function to work and would just as soon use the pull-down option from the home screen, which gives you access to a flashlight button. However, the twisting motion did indeed open the camera after a couple tries. Give it some practice if necessary. There are animations of the movements you need to make inside the Moto app for extra help. Actions are enabled by default, and can be easily disabled in the app. 

Moto Display

Moto Display

Another option in Moto Actions is Moto Display, which is a way to preview your notifications without unlocking, or even touching, your smartphone. You can also open notifications and respond to them without fully waking your phone. I've been using this feature for weeks without realizing it. During the work day, it's a great way to see text messages, Twitter alerts, and calendar reminders without getting too distracted. Just note that if you have your smartphone out on a table, say, while hanging out with friends, you may find your phone constantly going into this mode based on nearby movements.

Moto Loop

Moto Loop

Moto Loop is a separate app altogether, that may or may not be pre-installed on your Motorola device. (It was on the Droid Maxx 2 and Droid Turbo 2.) 

With it, you can link your smartphone up with the devices used by members of your family or by friends, and track everyone's whereabouts and activities. You have to add your home address to get started. Once you add a person to the Loop app, that person has opt in. Then you can view your friends and family on a map and see who's nearby. From the map view, you can click on a person's picture to send them a message. The Loop app also enables you to control smart home devices including the Nest Thermostat and Philips Hue Lights.

See also: my guide to Samsung Galaxy apps.