Huawei Celia

Huawei Adds Generative AI-Powered Voice Assistant to Smartphones, Beating Apple and Google

Huawei has augmented its Celia voice assistant for smartphones with generative AI as part of its new HarmonyOS 4. Celia, also known as Xiaoyi, runs on Huawei’s Pangu 3.0 large language model, giving it the ability to interact and perform in ways similar to ChatGPT and understand informally phrased commands better than Siri or Google Assistant.

Generative Celia

Celia’s role as a smartphone voice assistant includes the usual tasks enhanced by generative AI. Not only can it now grasp casually phrased commands, but it can also help write and edit text and adjust phone settings such as background themes. The voice assistant’s document search is broad enough to handle relatively vague requests like, “Find my spreadsheet about travel plans I made last month.” Celia can also process images and search through them. For instance, users could ask Celia to find “pictures at the park in the winter two years ago.” Celia makes a point of indicating when it uses AI for writing texts and social media posts, with a note reading, “Automatically generated by the AI model,” appearing when relevant.

“People can collaborate with Celia not only by voice but also through documents, texts, pictures, and more. Users can also type to interact with Celia if it’s not a good time to talk,” Huawei director of consumer business Jia Yongli said in a translated statement. “Dialogues between users and Celia will feel more intuitive and natural.”

Smartphone Generative AI

Huawei’s voice assistant adding generative AI puts it well ahead of many rivals. Google Assistant is reportedly getting a generative AI makeover that would presumably include Android devices, but it hasn’t left the rumor stage yet. The same goes for Apple with Siri and even Amazon’s plans for a generative AI-powered Alexa. The popularity of the ChatGPT mobile app and the release of SoundHound’s voice-controlled ChatGPT mobile app suggest the demand is there as soon as the option becomes available.

Huawei may face more competition domestically from other tech giants like Baidu or Alibaba, who recently unveiled an open-source LLM of its own. On the other hand, new regulations from Chinese authorities on generative AI and synthetic media may curtail too much of a gold rush. Apple delisted more than 100 generative AI-related mobile apps from its Chinese App Store last week to comply with the new rules, which it said would make content on those apps illegal.

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