Whether we want AI or not, it is going to be an important feature in our lives. While the first iterations did not attract many, with systems getting more intelligent, AI is certainly bound to attract more users. So, it was not a surprise when Google announced an AI-first strategy at its I/O conference this year. Basically, what this means is that Google will try to integrate as many services with its Assistant as it can over the coming years. Say, if one wants to book a cab-ride or a flight ticket, she would be able to do so using Google’s services as the company integrates more apps across the platform.
While it has experimented with this in its existing systems—Maps allows you to book a cab without accessing an apps—with Google Assistant, one would not even require to access Maps. And, as it gets more smarter, it would book a cab itself once it senses a routine. But Google is not the only service vying for a chunk of the an AI-driven world. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung have each announced an iteration of AI—and each of them claim theirs is smarter than the others.
More recently, Samsung announced a personal assistant, Bixby, which will be an user-interface integrated AI for Samsung phones. Although it cannot play ‘trivial pursuit’ like Google or Siri can, it will be able to do a specific search on your phone, which the Assistant may not be able to do. But what Google’s, and for that matter, any other company’s, announcement also carries is a warning for future systems. There is no doubt that phones are set to get better, and all these AI digital assistants are intended to do make your life easier. But that should not mean a stopping of hardware innovations, especially of phones.
Basically, companies would do well to avoid a Apple-rut in the coming years. While it is true that we want smarter devices, it is also true that we need newer devices, which Apple has missed over the last few years. While it improved an already perfect user-interface, the iPhone or Mac has looked and felt much the same. Camera upgrades have given some edge, but people now crave more. Samsung and others are now falling into the same rut or may do so once they focus more on improving the UI with AI.
Augmented and virtual reality are expected to solve some of that problem, but ultimately companies have to change how we interact with phones and how they interact with us. A lot of it is visual, and no matter how many assistants exist, people would still want the comfort of a screen, at least for now. Samsung filing for flexible phones does allay some concerns, but material additions may not last for long. People and technology both have an uncanny way of altering the course of future. They may do so once again, with an out-of-the-box solution.