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Android creator Andy Rubin says he has the cure to the world’s smartphone addiction

While Rubin acknowledges the downsides to the smartphone revolution, he says that his startup Essential is working on ways to solve the tendency to check one's phone umpteen times in a day

August 21, 2017 / 12:23 PM IST

Moneycontrol News 

Android creator Andy Rubin’s startup Essential is now working on a way to solve the smartphone addiction for good – by using artificial intelligence.

Rubin’s startup Essential has recently been in the news for its Essential PH-1 phone which is set for its US launch this week, and will be making utilisation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to change the way people interact with their devices, by assigning some of the tasks performed on the phone to its AI.

“We all lived happy lives before we had always-on internet”, Rubin said in an interview to Bloomberg at Playground Global, his incubator in Palo Alto, California, which happens to house several of his startups.

Google Director of Mobile Platforms Andy Rubin (L), T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Cole Brodman (C) and Motorola Inc CEO Sanjay Jha display the new "Cliq" cellphone in San Francisco, California September 10, 2009. Motorola Inc on Thursday took the wraps off the new cellphone that uses Google's Android software and seeks to tap into the popularity of online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES BUSINESS SCI TECH) - RTR27OFT


Rubin, presently  CEO of tech startup incubator Playground Global, was formerly Google's Senior Vice President of Mobile and Digital Content, after his mobile software Android was acquired by the search giant in 2005 

Rubin, who has been in the phone development business for over 20 years, says that he wants to reach the point where the smartphone will be made into a virtual replica of the user, and the latter will even trust the phone to do some tedious tasks. This will in turn help cure part of the addictive behavior.

Also Read : Android creator Andy Rubin launches Essential Phone: Price, specifications and more

Commenting on prominent brands like Apple and Samsung who already dominate the existing market and how his Essential PH-1 phone is going to compete with them, he says that a duopoly like now is the best time to disrupt a saturated marketplace like that of smartphones.

He labelled AI home assistant software such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri as “yesterday’s idea”, but did not exactly reveal what the new generation AI might look like.


The display will cover most of the front of Essential's PH-1 smartphone, which will also have accessories like a 360 degrees magnetic camera (Courtesy: Essential website) 

Amazon is one of the backers of Rubin's smartphone startup, and poured in funds in a fresh Series B round a few weeks back.

Rubin said that soon phones and other gadgets will be designed to predict what the person needs, sort through notifications on its own, and prioritise them as per the day, time and location of the user.

Also Read: The tech-startup valued over USD 1 billion without selling even a single device

He quoted an example using texting where something such as a simple reply to texts that is ‘solvable’ using AI need not require the person to check the phone anymore.

Thus, the phone transforms into a virtual avatar of the user “doing stuff”, while “you’re doing more important stuff,” says Rubin.

Some of the AI advances he wants to develop on will be reportedly featured in Essential’s second product, a circular home device. He also added that owners of the Essential phone will also be getting some of these innovations.
first published: Aug 21, 2017 12:23 pm

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