One of the nicer features of Motorola's Moto X and recent Droid phones is the ability to have text messages read aloud while driving, but responding to those messages has been tricky until now.
A new update to Motorola's Assist app makes those responses much easier. Users can now reply directly to incoming text messages by voice, instead of having to initiate a completely new voice command by saying "Okay Google Now."
Assist is a major feature of Motorola's newer phones that automatically does things based on your situation. For example, it switches to hands-free communications while driving, silences calls while you're in meetings, and only allows important calls at night.
Motorola says it has improved driving detection over Bluetooth in the latest update, and also added a way to launch your favorite music app once you're on the road. (The app could already start playing your most recent track when connected to car audio through the headphone jack or Bluetooth.)
Although the Moto X received critical acclaim for its clever software and customizable finish, Motorola has reportedly been disappointed by weak sales, and has slashed prices on both unlocked and carrier models. Starting next month, Motorola will start selling its flagship phone in Europe, but without the Moto Maker customizations available to U.S. customers.
Even if the Moto X remains a sales dud, it makes sense for Motorola to keep investing in the software. CEO Dennis Woodside has spoken of the "long-term mindset" at parent company Google, so Motorola will likely build upon Assist and other software features for future handsets.