Huawei Brings Celia Voice Assistant to India as IT Troubleshooter
Huawei is bringing its new Celia voice assistant to India. The Chinese tech giant is integrating Celia’s AI into its app and website in India, using the same “Hey Celia” wake word as in the P40 smartphones where Celia first debuted.
For Indian customers, Celia is designed to be an informational guide for answering questions about Huawei products. The AI can help people decide on a smartphone to buy and help troubleshoot any technical problems. While people can communicate with Celia via text and voice, the AI may respond with not only texts and links, but pictures and GIFs. When it can’t answer a question, the assistant will connect the user to a human customer service agent.
This is a change in how the voice assistant has been set up in the P40 smartphone series. There, it serves as a Google Assistant replacement, mainly in Europe and Latin America. The voice assistant speaks English, French, and Spanish, but not Chinese or Hindi. Celia seems to be entirely divorced from the Xiaoyi voice assistant used in Huawei products in China. Celia was built largely because the years-long effort to add Google Assistant into non-Chinese Huawei products fell apart after an executive order by the United States put new restrictions on tech imports from China. Huawei even launched its Sound X smart speaker in Europe without any voice assistant at all. After discussions with Yandex, the Russian developer of the Alice voice assistant, apparently petered out, Huawei went with Celia.
The shift in use for Celia in India is interesting as it is unrelated to any specific device and is more of a voice-enabled IT chatbot. Whether Huawei plans to add smartphones with Celia to India’s markets in the near future isn’t clear. The competition may be tough to overcome. India has become the a hotbed of competing voice AIs, with Google Assistant and Alexa facing off against each other and domestic creations, plus arrangements like Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce company acquired by Walmart, setting up its own voice assistant for its platform. The fact that the Huawei AppGallery that Celia accesses on the P40 phones lacks most of the apps available in the Google Play store may make it a losing proposition, hence the decision to use Celia’s AI in a more limited, but still useful fashion.