“We’re moving from a mobile first to an AI-first world.” That was how Google’s boss, Sundar Pichai, began a presentation on Tuesday, at which his company unveiled a range of new hardware products.
He believes that the key attraction of both the new Pixel smartphones and the Google Home smart speaker is the company’s expertise in artificial intelligence as demonstrated by the Google Assistant.
The search company believes that the vast amount of data it has collected over the years, coupled with its expertise in machine learning, will give it a head start in the coming AI battle.
The company hopes that Google Assistant, a conversational chatbot or virtual PA, will soon be a key feature on all sorts of Android devices, not just those it makes itself.
If Mr Pichai has his way, we will soon be shouting: “OK Google,” to get all sorts of information and services.
But on Thursday came news that showed that the biggest player on Android may not be so keen on that idea.
Samsung has announced that it is buying Viv, an artificial intelligence company started by the same people who created the virtual assistant Siri, and then sold it to Apple.
Viv, according to Samsung, is “a unique, open artificial intelligence platform that gives third-party developers the power to use and build conversational assistants and integrate a natural language-based interface into renowned applications and services”.
That appears to be a pretty good description of what Google is doing with its AI.
But it sounds as though Samsung may decide that Viv will be a key differentiator on its Galaxy phones – and vast range of household appliances – as it battles to retain its position at the top end of the Android market in competition with the Google Pixel.
And other technology giants are flexing their own AI muscles.
Apple of course has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, and IBM’s Watson has been around for a while and is beginning to make its presence felt in a number of commercial applications.