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Friday, July 19, 2013

Motorola’s Not-So-Secret Secret Smartphone

Motorola Mobility’s efforts to keep secret the details of its first flagship smartphone since the company was bought by Google have run up against reality.

Rumors about Motorola’s smartphone, usually called Moto X, have leaked all over the Web, from small tech blogs to mainstream news outlets. And Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, has even been out in public using what appeared to be the new device.

Motorola won’t confirm details about the new device. But all the early exposure, some of it the company’s own doing, makes it seem like this pseudo-secrecy could just be a way to prime the hype pump.

Last month, Motorola’s chief executive, Dennis Woodside, made it known during an onstage interview that Moto X devices would be made in the United States. He coyly admitted that the phone was in his pocket, but shook his head when asked to show it off.

No matter: Mr. Schmidt apparently took care of the visual while at a business conference packed with reporters, holding a new Motorola phone to his ear. “I’m not allowed to comment on the nature of this phone,” Mr. Schmidt said, according to Rachel C. Abrams of Variety.

Mr. Schmidt didn’t need to say much. A day before Independence Day, Motorola advertised the phone in newspapers. The ad hinted that the device would be customizable â€" “The first smartphone that you can design yourself.” Joanna Stern of ABCNews was quick to clarify that customers would be able to choose the colors of the phone case and add an engraving.

But what can the phone do exactly? Google executives have offered some clues that future Motorola phones would include artificial intelligence and sensors that recognize people’s voices in a room. Spoiling the surprise, the tech blog Ausdroid spotted a video on the Web from Rogers Wireless, a Canadian carrier, showing the Moto X.

The video, which Rogers asked Ausdroid to take down because of copyright infringement, suggested several details, like that the phone constantly listens for a user’s commands and reacts to them. The initiating command is “O.K., Google Now,” similar to the “O.K., Glass” command to control Google Glass. The video also said that the phone would be released in August.