Huawei unveils mobile AI assistant to take on Samsung's Bixby and Apple's Siri

Chinese electronics giant will launch Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro in Munich on Oct 16


Reuters/afp September 03, 2017
Huawei will launch the Mate 10 in Munich on Oct 16. PHOTO: HUAWEI

BERLIN: Chinese electronics giant Huawei on Saturday unveiled its first mobile personal assistant with artificial intelligence in Berlin, in hopes it will rival the dominance of Samsung's Bixby and Apple's Siri.

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"Smartphones are smart but they are not intelligent enough," Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, said at this year's IFA electronics fair.



The mobile assistant, called Kirin 970, will systematically respond to three questions -- "the most important combination," Yu said: Where is the user? Who are they and what are they doing?

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"You ask your personal assistant what's the weather in Berlin," Yu said. "But in-device AI already knows that you're in Berlin, on work assignment, on your way to a meeting, and if you're waiting outside or if you're already inside the car".

Internet giants have been investing heavily in creating software to help machines think more like people, ideally acting as virtual assistants who get to know users and perhaps even anticipate needs.

And as smartphones and other electronic devices make greater use of artificial intelligence (AI), the digital assistants already pervasive in our lives are set to become more intuitive and play a bigger role in our homes, observers say.



But unlike its competitors' virtual assistants, which collect and gather information in the internet cloud, the prowess of Huawei's AI assistant lies in processing data on the smartphone, rather than in the cloud.

Huawei will launch the Mate 10 and its sister phone, the Mate 10 Pro, in Munich on Oct 16, Yu confirmed. He declined to detail new features, but the phones are expected to boast large, 6-inch-plus full-screen displays, tech blogs predict.

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Yu believes the new Kirin 970 chip’s speed and low power can translate into features that will give its phones an edge over the Apple iPhone 8 series, set to be unveiled on Sept 12, and Samsung’s range of top-line phones announced this year. Huawei is the world’s No 3 smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple.

“Compared with Samsung and Apple, we have advantages,” Yu said in an interview during the annual IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin. “Users are in for much faster (feature) performance, longer battery life and more compact design.”

The company asserts its newly announced Kirin 970 chip will preserve battery life on phones by up to 50 per cent.

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