If you've been following smartphone news over the last few months then you will know one of the biggest stories (like all of tech) has been the rise of AI in phones. This is especially noticeable when it comes to Samsung. The Korean giant has been pushing to hype up the AI features in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S24 series big time. However, I have a concern, and it is based on my recent experience using ChatGPT.
I have heard a lot about ChatGPT, from its appearance on popular shows like South Park to conversations with friends and family. I decided I wanted to try it out, and I did. The issue to me at least was that, after a certain point, I couldn't see the point in it anymore; it felt like a gimmick to me. It's an impressive gimmick with a lot of potential without a doubt, but a gimmick nonetheless. This is fine as an app, all apps are essentially brief distractions after all, but what if it's touted as a central part of what the phone offers?
The problem I have with apps like ChatGPT is that what they offer is far too varied from person to person. For instance, asking it a question and seeing it rattle off an answer in real time is amazing, but it isn't really doing anything that I couldn't achieve with a Google search or two. It becomes something to show your friends so they can see how cool it is, and then never use it again.
Meanwhile, if you know what you are doing, there is a huge amount that the app can do. However, it is very specific and of very little benefit to the average person who will never use half the features. For instance, you can get the app to code something if you want, but how often will you use such a feature?
The fear I have is Samsung's new features will offer little more than bells and whistles or offer very specialized content that doesn't impact the average user. This would be a major problem for Samsung as it appears that they don't have many hardware updates to show off in the Galaxy S24 series and are pushing the AI to bring in sales.
Now, I will say that it appears they are aware of this and many of the rumored AI features are very impressive and appear to be focused on helping in everyday life. The ability to translate a call as it is happening is certainly one that could help open up a world of travel for a lot of people. However, this is only the start of Samsung's AI journey and there are plenty of pitfalls for them to watch out for.
Currently, there has been a lot of focus on the possibilities of implementing AI into the cameras. This is great as editing photos and videos on a phone can be something of a nightmare, and not everyone has access to professional editing programs on a PC. However, while upscaling and basic editing are all well and good, other camera features may never end up getting used and end up as little more than a blurb in an advertising campaign.
This is especially important if, as some have speculated, it is true that Samsung will hide many AI features behind a paywall. This is nothing new; apps like Microsoft Copilot lock their image processing behind a paywall. The issue is that Copilot is an app, it isn't a central part of why people bought the phone. If you hide some of the more basic improvements that apps offer behind a paywall then people will start to avoid the phone.
The strength of AI in phones has nothing to do with gimmicks, it should be about making life easier for the user. Apps like ChatGPT don't do that, they don't really have to if I am being fair. ChatGPT is as useful as you are both willing and able to make it and it can thrive in that. However, Samsung needs to make sure its AI is helping people with their tech as much as it offering flashy operations.
Interestingly it seems that ChatGPT wants to broaden its appeal at the moment and reach even more people. A recent discovery in an Android update code hinted that it may soon be possible to change the AI assistant in your Android phone. That would mean you could swap the Google Assistant for one that uses ChatGPT. The danger of this is that the AI assistants end up trying to outdo each other in what they offer while ignoring what their purpose is.
I hope that Samsung can keep the AI features on its phone interesting and useful. They need to make sure to keep their features relevant, not just flashy. It does seem like they are going down that route, but they need to make sure that Samsung Gauss and the other AI are interesting enough to keep users coming back, and that is where the hard work begins.
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Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.