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The Creator of Android Wants to Destroy the Phone as We Know It

Andy Rubin’s beleaguered phone startup Essential is rumored to be working on a phone that is anything but your standard flagship. Think of it as an AI-powered device with a tiny screen that is supposed to reply to your text messages as if it was you and make calls on your behalf.

Credit: Brian Ach/Getty Images

(Image credit: Brian Ach/Getty Images)

The Essential Phone PH-1 was a beautiful disaster that nobody wanted to buy and even fewer people knew about. Now, its creator and inventor of Android is reportedly on a mission to destroy Android phones as we know them to eliminate our screen addiction.

Apparently, Rubin’s new phone will not be much of a phone. Instead, Bloomberg’s report says, it will be an AI-powered device that will provide the functions of Google Duplex mixed with a bit of Alexa.

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People familiar with the device, which may be teased at CES 2019, say that it has a tiny screen and it will capable of answering your text and emails on its own, as well as making calls and appointments like Google Duplex does.

The device, the report continues, will learn from you (how would it learn, we don’t know yet) by tracking how you use it. And yet, the alleged sources close to Rubin say that the objective of this gadget is to help us cut on our screen time, because we are very bad humans and we use too much Instagram and don’t play enough with our dogs, cats or children.

Those sources describe this phone assistant thingamajig as “Her”, the personal computer voiced by Scarlett Johansson in the eponymous movie directed by Spike Jonze. In the movie, the protagonist played by Joaquin Phoenix interacts with a computer that lives in the cloud and can do everything for him.

But then, the sources say that Rubin wants this to be a “companion” to your regular phone. But, at that point, why not just use your phone? Why have an extra device when you can use your phone to do exactly the same with an app? The Pixel 3, for example, can screen for robocalls and transcribe them on the fly, though it won’t respond to calls or messages for you

On the surface, this concept doesn't make much sense at all--even if you buy into the logic that people don’t want to spend as much screen time with their phones. Because, after all, there are apps for this, too, like Apple's Screen Time.

I don't see a $300 million startup taking on companies like Apple, Amazon and Google, who have been spending billions on AI just trying to get the basics right. But we'll have to see what 2019 brings.

  • knutsonps
    I like my PH1.
    Reply
  • manofcity1
    Tiny screen? Does this guy know people want big handsets? He made a phone,that was only could only be use with Sprint,cutting himself off from the other big 3. What I read The EP,was not usable with T mobile,(unlocked ones) without Sprint sofewear in it. Not sure about the other 2. He should just give it up,go back working for Google. I believe EP,now can get them for less $250-$400.new,but I don't think there will be updates for it.
    So who would want it?
    Reply
  • samuel.marc.cook
    Arrggg. Please edit this article!

    "Think of it as an AI-powered device with a tiny screen that is supposed to reply to your text messages AS IF IT was you and make calls on your behalf."

    "The Essential Phone PH-1 was a beautiful disaster that nobody wanted to buy and even FEWER people knew about."

    "Now, its creator and inventor of Android is reportedly on a mission to destroy Android phones as we know them to eliminate our screen ADDICTION."

    There might be more.
    Reply
  • MacPhyle
    Spelling is a good thing. Look in to it.
    Reply
  • grosbach
    This article is in News, but it contains almost nothing that's news. Mr. Diaz's opinions, which the article does contain, seem reasonable, though I doubt anyone needs them. And does anyone copyedit, or even proofread, these things before they're posted?
    Reply
  • bitplane
    "Spelling is a good thing. Look in to it."

    Spelling is a good thing look INTO it. Just sayin'.
    Reply
  • StygianAgenda
    Yeah, umm... no thanks.

    If I find an AI poking around in my personal communications, I'll come see it's NAND with a 440v live wire and give it a brain freeze it'll never forget.

    To think that *everyone* (or anyone?) will want something like this, makes me believe Rubin has lost his f'ing mind. What he fails to realize is that there's a tremendous number of us Android users that want Android, just not our carrier's bloated and locked down roms of it. Standardize a method of allowing Android users to replace their carrier rom with a certified clean vanilla rom, and you'll have our attention. But trying to tell us that we don't need what we've put so much time and money into over the past 20+ years is the most clueless thing I've heard all day, this side of politics.
    Reply
  • Mark Spoonauer
    @samuel.marc.cook. Sorry for those errors. Those have been corrected.

    21393392 said:
    Arrggg. Please edit this article!

    "Think of it as an AI-powered device with a tiny screen that is supposed to reply to your text messages AS IF IT was you and make calls on your behalf."

    "The Essential Phone PH-1 was a beautiful disaster that nobody wanted to buy and even FEWER people knew about."

    "Now, its creator and inventor of Android is reportedly on a mission to destroy Android phones as we know them to eliminate our screen ADDICTION."

    There might be more.

    Reply