How to Customize Active Display on Moto X 2014

Motorola’s Moto X 2014 smartphone is an upgrade over its past devices and even other flagship Android smartphones in so many ways. For example, its 5.2-inch AMOLED display is beautiful. That being said, the Moto X has never been about cutting edge technology as much as its been about how to use that technology to make life easier. To that end, the Active Display technology that takes advantage of that 5.2-inch AMOLED display is worth getting excited over.

Active Display has gotten a new name in the Moto X 2014. It’s now called Moto Display, but the mission is the same. Modern smartphones have made it easier to connect with friends and stay abreast of the latest news. It’s also made us slightly too accessible and vulnerable to anything that pops up on our device’s notification area. Moto Display is Motorola’s attempt to turn the tide in the other direction. Instead of turning our phones on and off to get the latest news or figure out who just sent us a text message, Moto Display surfaces notifications right up front for you to see.


Moto X 2014 Review - 5

When you have no notifications a simple clock surfaces on the device’s screen. When you do have messages and alerts waiting they’ll also surface on the device’s screen. You don’t have to turn the Moto X 2014 on to see these alerts, and you can actually read messages and incoming emails without pressing the power button and turning on the display. All of this happens without having to dive into Android or input a PIN code, saving you time and the Moto X valuable battery life.

Here’s how to customize Moto Display on the Moto X 2014. And how to use Moto Display to avoid unlocking your Moto X 2014 until it’s absolutely necessary.


Unlock your Moto X 2014 by pressing the power button and putting in your PIN code. Depending on how you chose to lock your device, you may be required to input a pattern or look at the Moto X to get past its lock screen.


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Welcome to the home screen. In earlier versions of the Moto X, Motorola scattered options for Active Display in the device’s Settings. With the Moto X 2014 all the device’s custom options are dumped into one app called simply Moto. If you haven’t changed much on your device yet, you may find that Moto is still on your home screen. If it is, tap to open it. If it isn’t, open the app drawer by tapping on the button at the center of your dock.

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Scroll over your list of installed apps until you find Moto.


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Welcome to the Moto app. On the Moto X 2014 you can change the settings for any of the unique features your device has. Tap the cog in the top-right corner.

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The options we’re looking for are in Display but there are other options here for voice control, gestures and the stuff that the Moto X does automatically. Tap Display.

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Tap the check mark beside Moto Display to enable the functionality we talked about.

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Now tap Select Apps to decide which of your apps you want to let surface notifications using Moto Display.

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Tap the check mark beside each icon to allow that app to surface notifications using Moto Display. You may have to do some customizing for your first few apps, but anything installed on your Moto X 2014 after you’ve setup Active Display will surface automatically. You can turn that automatic app addition functionality off if you want. I’m a very big fan of only allowing apps that are really important to me to surface Moto Display notifications. When something is lighting up my screen, I want to know that it’s important and not just Netflix telling me that I have new episodes of a television show waiting for me to watch.

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How to Use Moto Display

Now that you’ve turned on Moto Display, lets talk about how you use it.

I mentioned that instead of manually turning on your Moto X 2014’s screen, Moto Display uses the screen to turn on certain portions of it. When there’s a new notification for you to see, it’ll flash every few minutes by default.

Moto Display gets better though. To prevent battery drain, Moto Display knows when you’re looking and when you’re not looking. If it notices you looking, Moto Display flashes notifications. If it doesn’t it leaves notifications off. Moto Display also stops surfacing notifications if you’ve gone to bed and told it that. It obeys preset bed time schedules too.

Infrared sensors allow the Moto X 2014 to know when you’re picking it up. When you reach for it, Moto Display will turn on and show you any pending notifications you have. Wave your hand over the Moto X 2014’s display also turns on Moto Display. When you see a notification you’re interested in, just place your finger on it and drag it to the top of your screen for more information. If you want to quickly edit or reply, simply drag the notification to the lock icon to go directly to the associated app. To ignore a Moto Display notification on the Moto X 2014 simply drag it to either side of your screen.

Good luck with Moto Display and your Moto X 2014.