Last year there was a lot of excitement about the Essential Phone, Andy Rubin's daring smartphone. However, the handset proved a great disappointment to the actual sales figures and led to speculation that the company would be drowned despite the huge interest of investors. But a new report claims that Android's father has changed Essential's priorities by focusing on a smartphone that could revolutionize the mobile industry. That's how Rubin seems to think.
The phone, which could be delivered privately to CES in January, would rather be a companion to an existing phone. At least in the beginning. The object of the unnamed Essential device is to answer emails and texts for you to essentially replicate while you do other things. Hopefully it will keep you up to date on all SMS and phone calls on your behalf, but that's not very clear.
People familiar with Rubin's plans shared details about the handset Bloomberg . Essential paused the planned home speaker and announced a second smartphone to focus on the new smart device.
The Essential would have a smaller screen than one would expect from a smartphone these days, and it requires interaction between users via voice commands to Essence's AI software. Per Bloomberg the phone would resemble the devices in the science fiction film Her in which a man falls in love with an operating system that powers all his devices, including a Pocketphone without a screen. "Rubin wants to capture the imagination of people with a product that really differs from alternatives" Bloomberg says.
In addition, Essential is planning to market the device as a companion to your primary phone or as a phone for people who want to restrict their smartphone addiction.
But Google is also working on features that replicate the user for Android. Earlier this week, Google introduced the Pixel 3 phones, which include duplex (a feature that allows the assistant to make voice reservations) and the call screen (a feature that allows the assistant to talk to spammers). Gmail also provides automated answers, and Pixel 3 will be the first smartphone to support Gmail Smart Compose, the feature that offers written suggestions as you type in your answer.
Apple is now working on an AR goggles could replace the need for checking the iPhone all the time and maybe even replace the phone all the way down. As for new mobile form factors, Samsung, Huawei, Apple, Lenovo and other foldable smartphones are developing. The first two companies are expected to launch such devices next year. All of these handset providers are developing their own AI products, including intelligent language assistants. And many of them are looking for ways to reduce screen time for users.
In other words, it will be a challenge for Rubin to create a breakthrough smartphone experience in the face of the huge gap between Essential and its competitors in making and selling phones. But that does not mean that this tiny AI smartphone does not sound interesting. At least on paper.