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Artificial Intelligence Dominates Phone Convention in Barcelona

MWC on smartphone

As the year’s biggest smartphone event, MWC, kicks off in Barcelona, Spain, companies are pushing artificial intelligence (AI) in all types of products.

Chinese smartphone maker Honor, a spin-off from Huawei Technologies, introduced its latest AI strategy, which includes developing an “intent-based user interface” designed to make using different devices and systems smoother. Honor CEO George Zhao Ming Zhao showcased the company’s new feature, Magic Portal, which lets users quickly move a text message with, for example, a restaurant’s name, directly into Google Maps to see the location. The goal is to use AI to predict what users might need next, making their experience better and more intuitive.

Honor revealed at MWC  that its newest flagship phone, the Magic 6 Pro, is now available globally. The company has announced plans to eventually roll out the AI-powered eye-tracking feature to detect when a user glances at notifications within its “Magic Capsule” and automatically open the corresponding app, eliminating the need for physical taps.

AI in Phones a Growing Trend

AI-equipped phones could be big business. Counterpoint, a technology research company, predicts that the worldwide delivery of smartphones equipped with generative AI technology will exceed 100 million units this year, a significant increase from roughly 47 million in 2023. That number is expected to surge to 552 million by 2027.

While most AI applications for phones and other devices are operated via an internet connection, Qualcomm recently unveiled the first-ever large language model capable of operating directly on an Android smartphone, featuring over 7 billion parameters. In addition, the company is presenting a separate model designed to run offline on Windows PCs. Through the Qualcomm AI Hub, Qualcomm is making more than 75 models optimized for the Snapdragon platform available, which will also be accessible on platforms such as HuggingFace and GitHub.

Google has integrated artificial intelligence across more of its offerings, adding new functions for smartphones, vehicles, and wearable devices. The enhancements use the company’s Gemini large language model (LLM) for composing messages, generating AI-powered captions for photos, summarizing texts via AI for Android Auto, and facilitating access to passes on Wear OS. Additionally, Google Messages is set to incorporate a feature allowing the use of Gemini directly within the app, which is currently available in English through a beta version. Google is also rolling out features to enhance accessibility, including an update to the Lookout app. This app assists visually impaired individuals in identifying food labels and documents and will now offer AI-generated captions for images lacking or having incorrect captions or alternative text.

AI for the enterprise sector is also generating buzz at MWC. Hardware company Gigabyte has launched its G593-ZX1/ZX2 AI server, incorporating the AMD Instinct MI300X 8-GPU, marking a new entry in Gigabyte’s AI/HPC server lineup.