Mod Display


An Android device has a primary display, which is typically the integrated display on the device and provides the primary interface to the user (most commonly, the touch-enabled display on a smartphone). Android also supports transient, additional secondary displays. These are usually connected over a MHL or HDMI port, but on your Moto Z, these secondary displays can be hosted on, or connected through, a Moto Mod.

The Moto Mod platform supports secondary displays over the Moto Mod connector using MobilityDP (myDP). To integrate a display, your Moto Mod must support the Display-ext protocol as defined in the Display Protocol firmware page. To add backlight control to an Moto Mod display your Moto Mod must support the Light protocol, as defined in the Lights Protocol firmware page.

Displays hosted on a Moto Mod present themselves to Android as an secondary display when the Mod attaches and are then available as mirror or presentation displays to Android applications through the standard Android DisplayManager and MediaRouter classes.

Moto Mods with the Display-Ext protocol will enumerate as secondary display in the Android DisplayManager and MediaRouter.

In the current Android release (N, or API level 25 or below), the foreground application on the primary display determines the usage of the secondary display when it is connected and powered. The foreground application can choose to display additional media or presentation content on this secondary display through the Android Presentation class. If the foreground applications does not route specific media or presentation objects to the secondary display, then your Android device by default mirrors the primary display’s content on the secondary display.

Any application that is written to utilize an Android secondary display will automatically work with a Moto Mod display without requiring changes to the application.

A developer may optionally use the Moto Mod Android SDK’s ModDeviceModDisplay and ModBacklight classes in his application to determine whether the attached display is hosted on a Moto Mod and control some additional parameters on the connected secondary display.


Android Prerequisites

Set up your development environment

Before using the ModManagerModDevice and ModDisplay classes described below in your application, install the Moto Mod Android SDK on your development device as described in the tool section.

Familiarity with the Android Display Manager

Before proceeding, you should be familiar with Android’s DisplayManager and Presentation classes and MediaRouter APIs, as Moto Mod display will be accessible through these standard Android APIs.

Hardware Prerequisites

Display specific functions exposed through the Moto Mod Android SDK will only be available when a Moto Mod attaches to a Moto Z, powers on and declares support for the Display-Ext protocol.

Android, Moto Mod display and Android secondary Display

When attached to a Moto Z, a Moto Mod display is automatically recognized as an Android secondary display. The Moto Mod platform leverages the standard Android support for secondary, transient displays.

  • A foreground application can use the Moto Mod's display as a Presentation display via Android’s standard secondary displays API. The foreground application thus has the option to either take control of the content shown on the Moto Mod display or mirror the primary display (the default system behavior)

  • If the foreground application does not take control of the secondary display, when a display Moto Mod is attached, then Android will automatically mirror the content of Android’s primary display on the Moto Mod display

Display States and Moto Mod Displays



Detecting Displays with the ModDisplay class

Detecting when a Moto Mod is attached

Your application can listen to the generic attach (com.motorola.mod.ModManager.ACTION_MOD_ATTACH)and enumeration complete (com.motorola.mod.ModManager.ACTION_MOD_ENUMERATION_DONE) Intents, as described in the Mod Manager API documentation.

Detecting whether a Moto Mod has a Display

In addition to supporting the Android DisplayManager, the Moto Mod SDK provides a set of helper APIs and intents to track and control the physical behavior of an secondary display hosted on a Moto Mod. These additional functions as accessed through the ModDisplay and ModBacklight class.

After a Moto Mod has completed its enumeration, all the protocols supported by the Moto Mod will be available and ready. An application can determine whether the Moto Mod provides an secondary display by binding to the ModManager, accessing the current ModDevice with the ModManager.getModList() function, and checking that the currently connected ModDevice declares support for the MODS_DISPLAY protocol.

if (device.hasDeclaredProtocol(ModProtocol.Protocol.MODS_DISPLAY))
   // The Mod has a Display.

If (device.hasDeclaredProtocol(ModProtocol.Protocol.MODS_BACKLIGHT)) 
  // The Mod display supports independent control of its backlight

To control attached MotoMod Display, an application needs to retrieve the corresponding ModDisplay object from the attached ModDevice using getClassManager().

ModDisplay display = (ModDisplay)mManager.getClassManager(ModProtocol.Protocol.MODS_DISPLAY);
   // your application can control the display state with this ModDisplay

ModBacklight backlight = (ModBacklight)mManager.getClassManager(ModProtocol.Protocol.LIGHTS);
   // your application can control the backlight state with this ModBacklight

Detecting if a Moto Mod Display is ON or OFF

While a Moto Mod can host a display, and declare support for the DISPLAY protocol, the display panel hosted on the Moto Mod should be powered ON for this display to be available to Android applications. It is up to your Moto Mod firmware to control the state of a display on initial attachment.

As an example, a Moto Mod could have a separate on/off button on the display which turns the Moto Mod Display on/off or could be a hotplug DisplayPort interface for a monitor. The ModDisplay class in the Moto Mod SDK provides a simple intent for your application to monitor the state of a ModDisplay.

  • When a Moto Mod Display is turned ON, the ModManager service will broadcast Intent ACTION_DISPLAY_ON to indicate that the Mod Display has been turned on. The secondary display will be available, and an application can control it through the interface of a standard Android Presentation object.
  • When a Moto Mod Display is turned OFF, the ModManager service will broadcast Intent ACTION_DISPLAY_OFF. At this point, the Android secondary display will no longer be available.
// register local broadcast receiver for display on/off events

IntentFilter filter = new IntentFilter();

Actively Querying the State of a Mod Display

In addition to intents, the ModDisplay class also provide a method for an application to query or control the secondarynal display state. A Display-Ext protocol compliant Moto Mod will allow an application to control its display state. A class-compliant ModDisplay can be either in:

  • STATE_OFF : The Moto Mod Display is OFF
  • STATE_ON : The Moto Mod Display is ON

The getModDisplayState() method lets an application retrieve the state of a ModDisplay. A class compliant Moto Mod Display should return its ON/OFF state. If the ModDisplay state can not be determined, getModDisplayState() will return STATE_UNKNOWN.

ModDisplay display = (ModDisplay)mManager.getClassManager(ModProtocol.Protocol.MODS_DISPLAY);
if (display != null)
   return display.getModDisplayState();

The setModDisplayState(int state) lets an application control the state of a ModDisplay (STATE_ON or STATE_OFF).

display = (ModDisplay)mManager.getClassManager(ModProtocol.Protocol.MODS_DISPLAY);
if (display.setModDisplayState(state))
   // Success
   // Failure

Setting the brightness of a ModDisplay

Your application can control the brightness of a ModDisplay. The brightness control API is exposed through the LIGHTS greybus protocol, and exposed to application through the ModBacklight object. An application which wants to control the brightness of an attached display should use the setModBacklightBrightness() method.

If (device.hasDeclaredProtocol(ModProtocol.Protocol.MODS_BACKLIGHT)) 
   // The Mod display supports independent control of its backlight

   backlight = (ModBacklight)mManager.getClassManager(ModProtocol.Protocol.LIGHTS);
   // get the ModBacklight object to control backlights

   // set the brightness to 128

Secondary Displays Management using Android’s DisplayManager and Media Router

When a Moto Mod hosts an external display, that display is visible to and can be controlled by Android’s standard DisplayManager interface. Thus, in addition to the ModDisplay class, an application can rely on Android’s standard support for external displays, including the intents thrown by the DisplayService to indicate availability of external displays.

Determining whether an external display is present

External displays can be detected by using Android’s DisplayManager. Your application first needs to bind to the DisplayManager using the getSystemService() and ask for the DISPLAY_SERVICE, as shown below:

DisplayManager dm = (DisplayManager)getSystemService(DISPLAY_SERVICE);

An application can then get a list of all available displays by calling getDisplays() without arguments or filter by the display type (getDisplays(DISPLAY_CATEGORY_PRESENTATION)) if it is only interested in external displays. If the primary display is not a Presentation display, your application will get a list of connected external displays, including the one on the Moto Mod.

// Retrieve all attached external displays
Display[] displays = dm.getDisplays(DisplayManager.DISPLAY_CATEGORY_PRESENTATION);

Using the MediaRouter class

An alternative to using the DisplayManager directly is to use the MediaRouter system service to determine which routes are active for playback. Your application needs to bind to the MediaRouter system service by calling getSystemService(MEDIA_ROUTER_SERVICE). MediaRouter manages the default routes used for media playback on a device. Your application can then use the getSelectedRoute(MediaRouter.ROUTE_TYPE_LIVE_VIDEO) function to determine the available path for video output, and the RouteInfo object can be used to determine the Presentation Display associated with the route. Your application can also add use a RouteCallback to get notified when an external display Moto Mod is attached to your device and is available for video routing.

mMediaRouter = (MediaRouter)getSystemService(Context.MEDIA_ROUTER_SERVICE);

Tracking State change of an External Display with a DisplayListener()

An application can register a display listener with DisplayManager.DisplayListener(). This listener will be called when any external displays are added or removed to your device and can help your application respond to changes in the availability of external displays, including a ModDisplay.

private class ModDisplayListener implements DisplayListener {

   // When our Listener detects an external Display has been 
   // added, then we create a new Presentation object and refresh
   // the external display

   public void onDisplayAdded(int displayId) {
      DisplayManager dm = (DisplayManager) getSystemService(DISPLAY_SERVICE);
      Display disp = dm.getDisplay(displayId);
      if (disp != null) {
         mPresentation = new TestPresentation(MainActivity.this, disp);;

   // When our Listener detects an external Display has been 
   // removed, then we clear our Presentation object
   public void onDisplayRemoved(int displayId) {
      if(mPresentation != null && mPresentation.getDisplay().getDisplayId() == displayId) {
         mPresentation = null;


Displaying Content on an attached Moto Mod Display

To display custom content on Moto Mod display, an application need only use the Android Provided Presentationdisplay type or MediaRouter API. There are no new additional Motorola namespace APIs required. Any Application which natively supports Android secondary display will work with an attached Moto Mod.

Using a Presentation Display

To control content on an external display, an application needs to use a Presentation container. Presentation is a subclass of the Dialog class, and the content of a Presentation object can be displayed on an external display. A developer is recommended to consult Android’s Presentation class documentation for further details.