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The race to become the default AI assistant on your phone is heating up again


2023 was all about Generative AI, and leading the pack was OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The service launched in late 2022, but has gained many new features since the launch. There’s now a full-fledged plug-in store using which you can connect the ChatGPT service to third-party apps and the company also recently gave it a voice assistant-like makeover, allowing you to use ChatGPT as your personal assistant.

And now, it seems OpenAI is going for the Google Assistant, as the company is reportedly working on the functionality to make ChatGPT’s voice assistant the default assistant app on Android smartphones. According to Android Authority’s report, a new activity named “com.openai.voice.assistant.AssistantActivity” has been uncovered in the APK teardown of ChatGPT v1.2023.352.

While this activity is disabled for now, enabling it triggers a Google Assistant-like animation, hinting that OpenAI is building a personal voice assistant functionality for the app. You can see the animation in action in the video above. As seen in the video, the overlay doesn’t cover the whole screen; instead, it displays a transparent background with an interactive overlay in the front, hinting that the voice assistant is prepared to listen to your commands

The feature isn’t functional right now but the code suggests it is coming soon. Once it’s live, you’ll be able to set ChatGPT’s voice assistant as Android’s default digital assistant. You will be able to launch it by long-pressing the power button or by long-pressing the three-button navigation. However, using a custom hotword — such as “Hey, Google” won’t be possible — as it is restricted by Android.

Google Assistant with Bard is also coming soon

While OpenAI is working to make its voice assistant more accessible on Android, Google is also in the final stages of finalizing Google Assistant with Bard. The upcoming updated voice assistant was first showcased during the Pixel 8 event in October, and now a new leak has given us our first look at how the Bard-powered Assistant will look like.

As seen in the video by 9to5Google, Google is planning to offer Assistant with Bard from the Discover page of the Google Search app. Using the new Bard-powered Assistant, you’ll gain the ability to perform more intricate tasks using Google Assistant. Your Android device will become more context-aware, allowing it to extract deeper information from apps.

For instance, if you’re looking at a picture of your puppy, you can ask the Bard-powered Assistant to generate a caption for the photo — something that was not possible before. Leveraging Generative AI, Google Assistant will offer even greater contextual awareness and improved accuracy in providing information.

The voice assistant race is heating up again

Voice assistants play an important role in how we interact with our phone. For some, it’s the primary way to interact with their smartphone, while it’s less useful for others. With more powerful AI now making its way to the market, voice assistants are also revolutionizing and gaining more powerful features. Google’s Assistant with Bard will offer major benefits thanks to being more contextually aware and being able to access deeper app information, while ChatGPT’d voice assistant will hold an advantage as people are more familiar with it.

But, for now, both OpenAI’s voice assistant and Google Assistant with Bard are not available, and it’s a little too early to tell what impact these services will have on how we interact with our phones. But, if it’s an indication of anything, you will see more AI-powered stuff everywhere in 2024.

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