Move over Google Assistant, Google is apparently working on a new AI. The Information reports that Google is working on a new AI assistant “Pixie” that will be exclusive to Pixel devices. Pixie would be powered by Google’s new “Gemini” AI model. The report states that Pixie would launch first on the Pixel 9: “Eventually, Google wants to bring these features to its low-end phones and devices like its Watch. »
So far, Google and Amazon are reportedly planning to reboot their voice assistants with the new wave of major language models. Both are only in the rumor stage, so neither company has explained how a large language model could help a voice assistant. Typical complaints today usually concern voice recognition accuracy and response time, which a language model doesn’t seem to be able to help with. Presumably, large language models would help enable longer, more in-depth answers to questions, but the market will determine whether consumers want to hear a synthetic robot voice reading a paragraph-long answer.
Another feature listed in the report is that Google could build “glasses that could use AI’s ability to recognize objects a wearer sees.” Between Google Glass and Project Iris, Google has launched and stopped numerous eyewear projects.
The move shows how much Google has changed its thinking about AI assistants over the past decade. Previously, Google considered Assistant to be the future of Google Search. So he wanted the Assistant to be available everywhere. Google Assistant was a good product for a while, available on all Android phones, on iOS through the Google app, and through a lot of purpose-built hardware like Google Home/Nest Audio smart speakers and displays. However, Google Assistant has never made any money. Hardware was sold at cost, software was sold to partners, and ongoing voice processing costs piled up. There has never been any additional revenue to pay for Google Assistant in the form of ads. Amazon is in the same boat with its Alexa: no one has figured out how to make voice assistants profitable.
Given that Google Assistant is a money pit, The Information previously reported that Google plans to “invest less in developing its Google Assistant voice-assisted search for cars and non-Google-made devices, including TVs, earphones, smart home speakers, smart glasses.” and smartwatches that use Google Wear. The idea is for Google to double down on its own hardware, which the previous report said is what Google believes offers the best protection against regulators threatening the company’s research deals on iPhone and partner devices. Android. “We’re going to take on the iPhone” is apparently Google’s hard-to-believe mindset right now, according to this report.
Making the next-gen Assistant exclusive to the Pixel 9 would fall into this category. Presumably the current money problem would then be solved, or at least factored in, in sales of telephone equipment. The current Google Assistant was originally exclusive to the first Pixel and expanded to Google partners, but reporting from The Information makes it seem like that’s not the plan this time (although that could always change). No one knows what will happen to Google’s #1 AI assistant when AI Assistant #2 launches, but killing it seems like a likely outcome. This would also be a way to cut costs and remove Google Assistant from users’ devices.
The problem with doubling down on hardware is that Google Hardware is a small division that wasn’t able to support this type of ambition before. Coming back to that quote about third-party devices, there are no Google cars, TVs, or smart glasses (the report says smart glasses are in the works, though). In some years, Google’s existing hardware may not perform very well. Other years, there will be long periods without Google updating certain product lines, leaving them for dead (laptops, tablets). Google hardware is also generally only available in about 13 countries, which is a tiny part of the world. Being on third-party devices protects you from all of this. Previously, Google’s strength was the availability of its ecosystem, and you give that up if you make everything exclusive to your hardware.
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