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Going hands-free with the Moto X and new Droid smartphones

Motorola's new smartphones include features like Touchless Control and Motorola Assist. Here's how you can set them up.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Moto X and new Droid smartphones are always listening and waiting for your next command. Motorola's latest devices have a feature known as Touchless Control, which enables the device to perform hands-free commands at a second's notice, even if it is in sleep mode.

The phones can also be programed to automatically read text messages aloud when you are driving and be silent during meetings or while you are sleeping.

Here's how to set up these features on the Moto X, Droid Mini, Droid Ultra, and Droid Maxx:

Touchless Control

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Touchless Control builds upon Google's intelligent voice assistant Google Now. You can train the service and ensure it will only respond to your voice. Also, with this feature Google Now can be launched even when the phone is sleeping and the display is turned off.

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

To set it up, go to Settings, select Touchless Control, and enable the feature. You will then be prompted to train the device by saying, "OK, Google Now," three times. The Settings menu will give you access to a variety of customizable options, including the options to make calls while the phone is locked, speak commands when the display is turned off, or require confirmation before placing a call.

Speaking the command, "OK, Google Now, help me" will open a list of available commands.

Trusted Devices

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

One of the problems with the Touchless Control feature is its inability to function properly when your device is secured with a PIN code, password, or pattern. Although you can still make hands-free phone calls, you will be required to unlock your device before Google Now can answer your question or text your friends.

There is a workaround, however. Using a Bluetooth device, such as a headset or even your car, you can program the Moto X and new Droids to bypass the lock screen when using the Touchless Control feature.

This can be done by going to Settings, scrolling down to Security, and selecting Trusted Devices. Next, make sure your Bluetooth device is turned on and then pair your smartphone with the device.

Motorola Assist

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Apple's popular Do Not Disturb feature in iOS 6 allows users to set their iPhones to ignore calls and notifications at night. Motorola built on Apple's idea and took it one step further with its Assist utility. The app, which comes preloaded on the Moto X and new Droid smartphones, allows users to manage how their phones function when they are driving, in a meeting, or sleeping.

To enable the feature, open the Assist app in your phone's app drawer and select which mode you would like to use. The app can be configured to automatically read text messages when it notices you are driving, respond to missed calls with a text, silence your phone when you are at a meeting from your calendar list, or keep set quiet times during the night.

Nervous you will miss an important call while the phone is silenced? No worries, like Apple's Do Not Disturb feature, Motorola Assist can be programmed to display a call if the same person dials you multiple times within a 5-minute window, or if they are listed in your favorites.