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One of those things was a resolution to the curved back dilemma. The Moto X uses a "stepped" battery with an extra top layer, which both helps with fit and provides additional power .
Another Moto X hallmark -- its ability to be customized with differently colored back plates and hardware accents -- was also a source of both a-ha moments and engineering riddles. Wicks remembers a meeting in Sunnyvale, Calif., where top executives, as they surveyed the many proposed colors and materials spread out before them, asked, "Why do we have to choose?"
The signoff from the senior leadership team allowed Motorola to offer a much broader array of colors -- from a vibrant red to a cool mint green -- than other smartphone-makers. Wooden back plates are coming soon.
The customization strategy meant each color and finish had to be tested individually, making sure variations in pigments or materials wouldn't adversely affect the phone's antenna, for example. On the supply chain side, Motorola worked with its manufacturing partner, Singapore-based Flextronics, to retrofit a former Nokia cellphone factory in Fort Worth, Texas, for final assembly so customers would receive their made-to-order devices in fewer than four days.
The thinking was "if we're going to do [customization], we're going to go all the way and have a very great spectrum of color and materials that would benefit everybody's taste," said Andrea Hedl, a member of Wicks' team who led the color palette design for Moto X.
Creating a gadget with natural, humanlike qualities was part of the Moto X's identity from its inception. That vision drove some of the key software features, such as touchless controls and active notifications. Users can train their Moto X to recognize their voice, then use spoken commands to wake up the device, dictate text messages and set reminders. With active notifications, an incoming email or Facebook message prompts a small number of pixels on the screen to light up -- saving users the usual ritual of pushing a button to check for these updates.
"The devices you use today are not that smart, actually," Arshad said. "We call them smartphones, but they're really [about] manual operation. We wanted to create something that had more natural human interaction." (continued...)
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