Motorola has announced its next wave of Moto Mods, or snap-on accessories by the company which is as close as we're ever going to get to smartphone modularity. A slew of them are headed to compatible Motorola handsets, with one such mod gifting the phone beefier battery, a wireless charging adapter, and most interesting of all, an Amazon Alexa peripheral.
An Accessory That Turns A Motorola Phone Into An Amazon Echo (Sort Of)
Jon Kirk, Amazon's Director of Alexa Voice Service, said on the company's keynote at the Mobile World Congress that it would partner with Motorola to build a Moto Mod that's essentially a mini Amazon Echo, complete with the signature blue glow.
As shown in a concept video, the Moto Mod accessory is snapped onto the back of a Moto Z, and users may turn their phone face down to use the add-on as a speaker. The light will emit its familiar glow to let the user know if they've enabled Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa. The accessory is expected to launch later this year.
"With our Amazon Alexa Moto Mod, you can easily perform everyday tasks while on the go, like controlling your smart home, checking the news, requesting a ride from services like Uber, and more — using just your voice," wrote Motorola in a blog post.
Other Moto Mods Planned
Other Moto Mods expected to arrive are a battery pack, which Motorola itself manufactured instead of a third-party; a wireless charging peripheral, which turns the phone into a wireless charging-capable device; a gamepad that has four speakers, lights, and games. Beyond these, however, Motorola has concepts for future Motor Mods we may soon see.
Conceptual Moto Mods
One day, there might be a Moto Mod that can print pictures, another one that can transform the phone into a Lego Mindstorms robot, as CNET puts it; another one that adds multi-sim functionality, an accessory with an interactive LED cover and custom animations, and one which makes the phone compatible with a VR headset.
Pricing and release windows for the mods, let alone the conceptual ones, are still nebulous, but Motorola's unveiling of theme seems to suggest that support for the modular accessories is high, and it'll likely introduce more concepts down the line.
Modularity in smartphones is a subject already explored by Google, although the results weren't exactly excellent. In 2016, the company confirmed that it had suspended Project Ara, an experiment that aimed to create a true modular phone.
For the uninitiated, modularity refers to the capability of a phone's features to be individualized and turned into components, swapping them out when necessary. Such a concept, if explored again, will result in serious and significant impact on concept of upgrading a phone. The point being: Why buy a new phone if you can swap components out for newer ones?
While Moto Mods aren't full-fledged in terms of modularity, they at least make the concept easier to understand. Hopefully Moto Mods catches on in the mainstream, because it could birth further development of the modular concept. Time will tell.
Motorola promises to release at least 12 Moto Mods this year. It's also trying to encourage developers to make their own.
Do you use Moto Mods? What do you think of them? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!