Samsung is beating Apple in the race to bring AI to smartphones

Samsung’s free-for-now AI smartphone features will get an update on Thursday, putting the South Korean electronics giant even further ahead of Apple in the race to bring generative AI to cell phones.

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Samsung first launched Galaxy AI on its Galaxy S24 smartphone in January. The AI software (which leverages Google’s AI chatbot Gemini) offers live translation when users make phone calls, so they can select the language they’re speaking and the language they want their voice to be translated to in real time. There’s also AI photo editing capabilities and “circle to search,” which lets people quickly look up information about an element within a picture. Now the AI features, which come at no cost until 2025, will be available on more Samsung phones — the S23 series, S23 FE, Z Flip 5, and Z Fold 5.

Google was the first to debut a smartphone with AI tools with the Pixel 8 Pro in December. But Apple has yet to release an iPhone powered by AI features. The tech giant is reportedly in talks with Google parent Alphabet to use Gemini for iPhones, and it’s also considered leveraging OpenAI’s model. Apple also quietly acquired the Canadian startup DarwinAI earlier this year as it prepares to launch iOS 18 (probably in September) with generative AI features.
Apple’s AI push comes as it’s falling behind in the smartphone market. iPhone sales fell 24% year-over-year in China to start 2024.
Bank of America analyst Wamsi Mohan noted the muted sentiment for Apple during a recent visit to China to meet with supply chain company executives. “This is the first trip over approximately 20 years we have been doing this where smartphones were barely a part of the conversation,” Mohan in an email to investors Wednesday
Apple is facing other challenges, too. The company is being sued by the Department of Justice for allegedly violating antitrust law, and it’s getting investigated by the European Union over similar concerns about allegedly anticompetitive practices. Not to mention the company shuttering its electric vehicle project and its stock underperforming other tech giants in the so-called Magnificent Seven.

It’s safe to say Apple has had a rough 2024 so far. A push into AI could give it a boost.

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{Author}Laura Bratton{/Author}
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