The smartphone is about to evolve in a giant means. For years, business leaders pegged the arrival of 5G and foldable shows as being the technological developments that will mark a turning level for the smartphone. 

Now in 2023, that pleasure has shifted to generative AI, a expertise that moguls like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai consider may very well be as monumental because the daybreak of the smartphone and the web itself. 

Generative synthetic intelligence, or AI that may create new content material, engulfed the tech world this 12 months, shaping the trajectory of recent merchandise from Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft, Instagram and Facebook proprietor Meta, and different main tech firms. In the final quarter of 2023, we’re getting a greater concept of how that shift is extending to the smartphone. 

AI was on the middle of Google’s Pixel 8 launch earlier this month as the corporate flaunted how its algorithms can pick the very best facial expressions in batches of group photographs and simply paste them into a distinct picture. The subsequent smartphone processor from main cellular chipmaker Qualcomm is designed to hurry up AI processing duties, as the corporate detailed throughout its Snapdragon Summit in late October. And Apple is alleged to be growing a bevy of recent options for the iPhone and different merchandise that lean on AI, based on a latest report from Bloomberg.

“AI is the way forward for the smartphone expertise,” Alex Katouzian, senior vp and common supervisor of Qualcomm’s cellular, compute and XR division, stated throughout the firm’s occasion. “And with regards to cellular expertise, it is what we have been constructing towards for over a decade.”

ChatGPT logo displayed on a smartphone ChatGPT logo displayed on a smartphone

ChatGPT kicked off the generative AI frenzy late final 12 months.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket through Getty Images

ChatGPT and new AI-powered search instruments from Microsoft and Google might have been the jumping-off level for generative AI in late 2022 and the primary half of 2023. But it did not take lengthy for the tech to impression the route of present and future smartphones. AI is not new to cellular gadgets; options like voice dictation, language translation and facial recognition already leverage the expertise. Apple’s iPhones, for instance, have had a neural engine for dealing with machine learning-related duties since 2017 beginning with the iPhone X and that iPhone 8 era.

Generative AI is completely different. It’s not essentially about AI working passively to detect an individual in a photograph or unlock your cellphone as quickly as you elevate it to your face. Instead, it allows use circumstances that really feel new, whether or not that is producing recent wallpapers on demand or adjusting somebody’s expression in a photograph.

“It’s actually about giving customers management over using AI and the way they wish to use it, how they wish to apply it to their every day lives,” stated Subhashish Dasgupta of analytics agency Kantar, who specializes within the expertise and well being industries. 

Google’s Pixel 8 and eight Pro are the largest examples of this but. While each telephones embody routine upgrades like a brand new processor and barely improved digicam {hardware}, it is the telephones’ new AI-powered tips that make them stand out. 

A photograph enhancing characteristic referred to as Best Take can analyze group selfies you’ve got just lately snapped and swap facial expressions between pictures. In different phrases, Google’s AI can create the right picture wherein everybody was smiling — even when that second by no means occurred. 

Google’s Best Take characteristic permits you to swap out facial expressions. 

Richard Peterson/CNET

Magic Editor equally makes use of AI to allow you to manipulate photographs in myriad methods: You could make your self bigger or smaller, create the phantasm that you just’re leaping superhumanly excessive, and even substitute the bottom itself. 

Those are simply the newest examples of how Google is attempting to offer AI a extra distinguished presence in our telephones. Another characteristic, referred to as Magic Compose, which Google introduced at its developer convention in May, makes use of generative AI to craft prompt responses to textual content messages or rewrite responses in a distinct tone throughout the firm’s messaging app. Google’s AI wallpaper creator can conjure up new backgrounds on your cellphone from scratch based mostly on prompts. 

A screenshot showing Google's Magic Compse A screenshot showing Google's Magic Compse

Google’s Magic Compose characteristic in motion

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET (screenshot)

In 2024 and past, AI is poised to play a fair higher position in our smartphones. Qualcomm, which creates chips that energy telephones from firms like Samsung, Xiaomi and OnePlus, clearly had AI in thoughts when growing its new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 cellular processor. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon showcased the corporate’s imaginative and prescient for a way AI will change smartphones at its Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii on Oct. 24.

The chipmaker sees AI as being one other layer that runs alongside the cellphone’s working system and apps that may perceive voice, textual content and picture inputs and supply recommendations. That’s a lot completely different from the digital assistants we have come to know over the past decade, like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. Rather than fascinated with AI on the particular person characteristic degree, Qualcomm sees it as being a elementary a part of your cellphone’s every day operations sooner or later. 

“It’s actually type of voice assistants 2.0,” stated Luke Pearce, a senior analyst at tech analysis and advisory agency CCS Insight. “And it is way more conversational, it is way more pure.” 

A phone takes a photo of a mountain landscape with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip logo in the corner. A phone takes a photo of a mountain landscape with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip logo in the corner.

Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 at its Snapdragon Summit. 


During its keynote, Qualcomm offered a glimpse at what this future might appear like. A teaser video demonstrated a digital assistant that may extract key matters from a cellphone name, summarize them into bullet factors after which present suggestions. Another instance confirmed an AI helper selecting out key phrases from a textual content messaging thread between two buddies to proactively present suggestions for his or her meetup. A pictures software powered by the corporate’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor will allow you to zoom out on a photograph you’ve got already captured and generate extra particulars past the body to make it appear like it was taken on a wide-angle lens. 

“It modifications how we take into consideration the gadgets, the [operating system] and the apps, and the way you truly outline a consumer expertise,” Amon stated on stage.

A man talking on the phone standing up A man talking on the phone standing up

Qualcomm confirmed how AI can summarize cellphone calls throughout its Snapdragon Summit press convention. 


Qualcomm is losing no time getting began. It’s working with Google in order that the search large’s AI fashions will be capable to run domestically on future Snapdragon-powered telephones. Xiaomi additionally unveiled its new Xiaomi 14 cellphone, which will probably be one of many first gadgets to run on Qualcomm’s new chip, on the occasion. But different manufacturers like Oppo, OnePlus, Honor and Vivo will even undertake the chip, probably subsequent 12 months. Samsung usually places Qualcomm’s newest processor within the US model of its flagship Galaxy S and foldable Galaxy Z telephones, though the Galaxy S23, Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 gadgets run on a custom-made model of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Not to be outdone, Motorola can be working to deliver extra AI options to its smartphones. Lenovo, which owns Motorola, is growing an AI assistant for PCs and telephones that learns out of your habits and might accomplish duties in your behalf, akin to writing messages and scheduling duties.

Between Google’s Pixel 8 launch and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit, there is no doubt the Android panorama in 2024 will probably be all about AI. But what in regards to the iPhone? Apple hardly ever, if ever, discusses future merchandise. However, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman stories that Apple is growing a slew of AI upgrades for its household of merchandise, together with the iPhone. 

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vp of software program engineering, is reportedly spearheading an effort to deliver AI to the subsequent main iPhone replace, prone to be referred to as iOS 18. Apple needs to sprinkle its giant language studying mannequin into the software program, the report says, which might present up in Siri and Apple’s messages app. Apple’s suite of apps may additionally get an AI makeover based on Bloomberg, with the corporate reportedly seeking to deliver auto-generated playlists to Apple Music and AI-assisted options to Pages and Keynote. 

Apple did not instantly reply to CNET’s request for remark.

Siri on iOS 17 Siri on iOS 17

If a Bloomberg report seems to be true, Apple might deliver extra AI options to Siri. 

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

But to get the personalised experiences that firms like Google and Qualcomm envision, you will have to offer tech giants a fair greater window into your life. After all, how can these gadgets present suggestions based mostly in your textual content messages or sum up your cellphone calls with out the AI being dialed into your communications?

“What the AI is attempting to do, is attempting to foretell you,” Amon stated throughout Qualcomm’s keynote.

That’s a key purpose why Qualcomm is pushing the advantages of its Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, which it claims is highly effective and environment friendly sufficient to execute AI duties on the machine domestically with out counting on the cloud. Doing so means your data would not have to go away your cellphone, which is best for privateness and safety. It may make extra private recommendations based mostly in your habits, incessantly visited places and different way of life patterns with out sending that extremely particular person data by way of the cloud.

Apple takes the same strategy to private information. Since the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 can course of verbal requests on-device because of Apple’s new S9 processor, Siri will be capable to reply health-related questions on these gadgets. 

“The extra delicate the information, the extra private the information, the extra that will probably be processed on machine,” Pearce stated. 

Two people jumping off a rock with the rock erased Two people jumping off a rock with the rock erased

This picture was edited with Google’s Magic Editor software on the Pixel 8. My colleague Patrick Holland eliminated a large rock from this picture to make it appear like the themes are leaping abnormally excessive.

Patrick Holland/CNET

There’s additionally the query of whether or not AI will toe the road between truth and fiction with regards to pictures and movies created on our telephones, as my colleague Sareena Dayaram just lately identified. Tools like Magic Editor and Best Take go a step past sprucing and enhancing photographs. They change what’s occurring in an image. 

“Now you are placing much more energy into the fingers of much more folks,” stated Dasgupta. “And therefore the chance exists for it to be misused in lots of extra methods.” 

Qualcomm and Google have thought of this. The chipmaker companions with Truepic to confirm the authenticity of pictures and sign whether or not they have been taken with AI. Google additionally just lately launched an “About this picture” software that gives extra context in regards to the origin of pictures that seem in search outcomes. 

It’s unclear whether or not these protections will probably be sufficient to stop AI from being utilized in deceptive or malicious methods. But what is clear is that AI will change the best way we use what has turn into crucial machine in our lives, for higher and hopefully not for worse. 

“There could also be a killer use case that does not exist but,” stated Pearce. “But that can come across the nook and shock us all and turn into fully indispensable.”

Editors’ word: CNET is utilizing an AI engine to create some private finance explainers which can be edited and fact-checked by our editors. For extra, see this publish.

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