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Google Wants to Turn Its Devices Into App-Killers With AI

Google AI on smartphone with keyboard

The generative artificial intelligence (AI) arms race has a new weapon: hardware devices.

Google on Wednesday (Oct. 4) revealed a host of gen AI powered integrations and advancements embedded into its latest Pixel 8 smartphones and smartwatches, each designed to make the use of AI inextricable from the moments that make up daily life.

“It’s the first phone engineered and built for the generative AI era,” Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, said at the company’s Made by Google launch event in New York.

The company also unveiled plans to ramp up its Google Assistant’s conversational capabilities and overall acuity with the help of generative AI, allowing Assistant to help users plan a trip or catch up on their correspondences in a non-linear fashion with the ability to ask follow-up questions.

The upgrade leans on Google’s Bard AI product and aims to provide a more intuitive and intelligent experience, going beyond voice commands, adapting to the user’s needs and handling personal tasks in innovative ways across various mediums.

But while Google has an attractive baked-in advantage relative to Apple, Samsung, and other phone manufacturers when it comes to generative AI capabilities, the Mountain View giant still has a long way to go if it wants its new AI features to be an Apple killer.

According to data from IDC (International Data Corporation), Google’s Pixel ranks 12th in terms of global smartphone shipments, with just a 0.9% share of the market.

The company’s three biggest markets are the United States (39%), Japan (29%), and the United Kingdom (9%).

Google is also far from the only company interested in creating a generative AI enabled hardware device.

Read also: Sam Altman’s Gen AI ‘iPhone’ Could Upend the AI Economy

Integrating Generative AI Into Daily Life

Google’s Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro devices leverage generative AI across a variety of use cases, most of which are endemic to typical smartphone usage.

Google’s custom mobile processor, Tensor G3, has more AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities and capacity empowering phone users to manage more data on both the device and in the cloud.

This allows Google to tap AI and ML to streamline workflows and engagement occasions that have historically been technical and laborious.

The AI features Google is hoping will help drive competitive differentiation relative to its smartphone and Big Tech peers include the ability to summarize web pages, reduce spam calls by half, and add more magic to its Magic Editor photo tool.

“Soon, Call Screen will suggest contextual replies for you to tap to quickly respond to simple calls, like appointment confirmations, without having to answer the phone,” the company said in a blog post, emphasizing that “Pixel is even better at understanding the nuances of human speech, so you can talk to it more naturally to get things done.”

The Pixel 8 Pro version can also measure the user’s body temperature with a new Thermometer health app, that is still subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

PYMNTS has been tracking how the increasingly multi-modal capabilities of generative AI have been giving a much-needed shot in the arm to voice tech and voice AI capabilities, which have long languished under the weight of consumer expectations that far exceeded technical capability.

For transparency’s sake, Google will flag images edited with its generative AI tools so that people will know when altered photos are shared.

Read more: Apple Takes Quieter Approach to AI Integrations

What Other Tech Companies Are Doing

“What is key for most consumers is knowing that [AI] goes well beyond just a large language model [LLM], it goes well beyond what you’re sort of seeing at the surface, and it’s been touching and permeating a lot of parts of your daily lives for years,” Shaunt Sarkissian, founder and CEO of AI-ID, told PYMNTS last month.

And AI integrations are emerging as a crucial battleground for user engagement and capture among the biggest tech companies.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that AI and ML technologies are “virtually embedded in every product” and that the company is introducing AI on a “very thoughtful basis.”

Amazon last month (Sept. 25) made a multi-billion-dollar investment into generative AI startup Anthropic, taking a minority stake in the company after announcing it was using AI to make its Alexa smart device more conversationally capable.

As reported by PYMNTS, as Big Tech firms sharpen their go-to-market strategies with AI, having the right data on hand to train models with is becoming a key sticking point.