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Smartphone user experience set to improve as AI advances

New artificial intelligence systems will lead to smartphones becoming even smarter

It’s your phone’s AI that sorts your photos for you, making it easier to find that one you took of your dog that time. Photograph: iStock

It’s your phone’s AI that sorts your photos for you, making it easier to find that one you took of your dog that time. Photograph: iStock


Just how smart is a smartphone? Already many of us are happy to outsource much of our thinking to its artificial intelligence, from cleaning up our spellings to guiding us to our destinations.

“All the brands now have major AI built into their phones, making things easier for you every day,” says Mark Gardiner, head of products, services and logistics at Three Ireland.

It’s your phone’s AI that sorts your photos for you, making it easier to find that one you took of your dog that time. “And it’s AI that, when you search something on Google Maps, layers the content with interesting things to do and see while you are there,” he says.

Most people today have some form of voice activation service from their phone, whether it’s Siri, Alexa or Bixby.

“It’s so commonplace now we take it for granted, even as it enhances our world. For example, take Huawei’s new phones. We all worry about battery life, but it uses AI to optimise your battery life. If you buy a new Huawei phone, after a couple of days you’ll find that its battery performance actually improves. This is because it uses AI to see how you use it, what you open and close, and, depending on your behaviour, will tailor battery usage.”

Recognise objects

These days phones come with multiple cameras too, some have up to three, and use artificial intelligence to recognise objects and scenes, pre-selecting the best mode for the subject. It means your phone “knows” that the fast-moving object running across the frame is your dog, and adjusts its shutter speed to give you the best possible pooch pic.

The line between phones and wearables is blurring too, with your phone’s sensors enabling apps to not just track the distance you travelled on your morning run, and in what time, but also the hill you ran up faster than you did yesterday, or the straight stretch you struggled with. “It’s the AI that is giving the context,” he says.

How people will use their handsets in the home is likely to change too, seeing them become increasingly integral to the running of smart home applications. Already we see this, with apps such as Nest allowing us to control our heating via our phones.

What is now coming down the tracks are even greater advancements powered by AI. “Cisco has said that by 2021 the sensors we see in connected home appliances will represent just under half of all machine to machine sims in the market. The big advances will be for consumers, not in the business to business space,” he says.

Behaviour patterns

“It means that on a cold day, the AI system in your phone will kick in and turn on your heating for you, preheat your oven and let you arrive home to lights and the TV on. You won’t have to do anything, it will know from your location and your behaviour patterns that you are on your way home.”

The capability for each of these things to happen separately already exists. “The AI adds the intelligence based on your behaviour. The longer you have your handset, the more it will understand you and the better your experience will be.”

Already in Germany Bosch fridges, which automatically take a picture of its interior and sends an updated pic to your phone every time the fridge door closes, has a pilot initiative running in which the fridge goes on to order food directly from the supermarket for you.

Increasingly AI and the enhanced user experience it gives rise to will be the main arena in which smartphone makers compete. “Experience is going to be the new focus driving loyalty,” says Gardiner.