Google’s upcoming Pixel 9 series may introduce Pixie, an advanced virtual assistant based on Gemini AI, promising personalized and privacy-conscious interactions. Smartphones are continually evolving, becoming faster and more capable each year. In 2024, these pocket-sized devices are poised to usher in a new era beyond gaming and apps. Some smartphones will harness the power of Generative AI (GenAI), similar to Chat GPT-style apps, without relying on an internet connection. This shift promises to revolutionize the smartphone experience.
The rise of GenAI: A game-changer
Generative AI, or GenAI, represents an advanced form of artificial intelligence, differing significantly from conventional virtual assistants. GenAI can create new content without explicit programming, including images, text, and music. Unlike traditional AI, which operates based on predefined rules, GenAI learns from extensive data sets to generate fresh and original content.
However, existing GenAI applications, such as ChatGPT, require a constant internet connection for remote processing on powerful servers, resulting in potential delays and privacy concerns. On-device GenAI, on the other hand, eliminates these issues, making integration into the smartphone experience smoother and more efficient.
The key to 2024’s transformation: Chipsets
The pivotal change in 2024 lies in the chipsets powering smartphones. Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, their next flagship processor, in October 2023. This chipset boasts significant year-on-year improvements in CPU and GPU performance and the capability to run large-language models (LLMs) entirely on the device, eliminating the need for cloud connectivity.
Qualcomm is not alone in this endeavor; MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 and 8300 also can handle on-device GenAI tasks, expanding the range of 2024 smartphones with GenAI capabilities.
Transforming the smartphone experience
The impact of GenAI on smartphones depends on how manufacturers and developers leverage this new hardware. Qualcomm demonstrated several applications of GenAI at its Snapdragon Summit, including air quality analysis using a Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera sensor, intelligent cropping, subject tracking in the camera app, image expansion, and text generation on various subjects.
However, Qualcomm can only provide tools to manufacturers and cannot mandate integrating these features into upcoming smartphones. The responsibility falls on manufacturers to harness the potential of GenAI effectively.
Pixel 9’s upgraded virtual assistant, Pixie
Recent rumors about the upcoming Pixel 9 series suggest the introduction of an enhanced virtual assistant named Pixie. While most Android devices rely on Google Assistant for hands-free tasks, Pixie is reportedly based on Gemini AI, a technology recently showcased by Google. According to the company, Gemini AI excels in 30 of 32 widely used academic benchmarks in large language model (LLM) research and development.
Depending on how Google incorporates Pixie into the user experience, this virtual assistant could offer a more personalized and privacy-conscious interaction akin to ChatGPT. It might provide information on upcoming flights, offer tailored meal recommendations, and engage in natural, conversational interactions.
With many GenAI photo and video editing apps already available, the technology is poised to take center stage in 2024. The potential applications of GenAI in smartphones are vast, from enhancing photography and video editing to transforming virtual assistant interactions. This evolution represents a significant smartphone step forward, and there’s no turning back.