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Voice assistants are a priority in smartphone launches

by on25 January 2017

This year, several smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung Electronics, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi are expected to introduce new devices that feature better AI-based assistants in an effort to increase overall market share, according to industry reports.

Apple developing “enhanced Siri” this year

Apple acquired Seattle-based learning startup Turi in August 2016 in an effort to further strengthen the functionality and usefulness of its Siri personal assistant. The company promised to build out its portfolio of services and algorithms powered by machine learning, and is even building an engineering office in that city occupying less than two floors of a nearby office tower. Turi is expected to remain in the region and continue to grow as Apple continues to hire expertise in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. However, the byproduct of its efforts could lead to a better version of Siri arriving on newer iPhone models scheduled to be released later this year.

Huawei to push Amazon Alexa

During its CES keynote this year, Huawei announced its Mate 9 smartphone in the US which became the first mobile device with Amazon’s Alexa assistant preinstalled as an app. The voice assistant lets people create tasks and to-do lists with voice commands, receive information and alerts about news and weather, play music and videos, and pull up responses to search engine requests. The company currently ranks as the third largest global smartphone vendor and has ambitiously stated its aims to overtake Apple’s second place lead sometime in the next two years. For now, however, it hopes that Amazon Alexa will remain a more compelling voice assistant option over Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s use of Google Assistant.

Samsung to introduce new assistant called “Bixby”

The latest reports suggest that Samsung is on the verge of introducing its own virtual assistant called Bixby, which is rumored to debut with the Samsung Galaxy S8 in mid-April. The service will compete with Google’s Assistant, but also collaborate with the company’s efforts to help push artificial intelligence ahead for mobile consumer services. The competition between Bixby and Assistant may eventually improve each service’s features and overall capabilities, though Bixby will only remain compatible with Samsung’s own devices.

HTC introduces “Sense Companion” assistant

Following the tail end of CES this year, HTC held its own press conference on January 12th and announced two new smartphones, the U Ultra and the U Play. Both devices are equipped with the company’s own AI-based voice assistant called the HTC Sense Companion, which aims to learn from peoples' habits and interactions and will improve its helpfulness over time. For instance, the device will suggest you wear warmer clothes and leave for work a little earlier when expecting snowy weather, and can set reminders to pack certain items for different trips or events.

Google bringing Assistant to more devices

Google’s latest mobile device lineup, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, have launched with its voice-activated Google Assistant feature preinstalled, and it is also possible to get the service running on some previous generation models including the Nexus 6, 5 and 4 series, Moto G series, OnePlus and Samsung Galaxy S5.

LG has also been in talks with Amazon and Google to integrate AI-based voice assistants into its own smartphone lineup. While Google Assistant is currently supported on the LG V20 by modifying a single file through root access, the company hopes to make the feature available by default starting with the LG G6 that will be revealed next month during Mobile World Congress. The company is also expected to integrate Amazon’s Alexa into the device as a preinstalled app.

Last modified on 26 January 2017
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