Essential’s Next Phone Reportedly Different Than Any Other

Posted on October 10, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Android with 22 Comments

Essential, the company known for its PH-1 flagship Android phone, could soon be coming back with an innovative new smartphone. The company’s first Android phone wasn’t a success at all, with poor sale numbers resulting in a troubled start for the firm.

When Essential first launched, the company’s founder Andy Rubin, who also happens to be Android’s creator, said the company will build out its own ecosystem of devices. And that might not be happening anymore after the failure of its first product. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the company has reportedly paused development of its home speaker and cancelled the development of a second smartphone.

Instead, it’s apparently building a new kind of device.

Bloomberg device that the new device isn’t like any other smartphone, it’s designed to have a small screen and uses voice commands as the main interaction point. The phone will have AI built-in to automatically get real-world tasks done for the user, including things like replying to text, booking appointments, responding to emails, etc.

The idea obviously sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but with Google building products like Duplex that can automatically call people for you, we may not even need a product that’s entirely focused on such features.

Essential has a lot to worry about here if it does end up eventually releasing the product. Using voice as the main input point not only presents privacy concerns, but it’s also a technical challenge around voice recognition that even companies like Google are struggling to master.

Essential is expected to show the device off as early as CES 2019 in January, with the first prototype expected to be finished by the end of this year.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Essential’s Next Phone Reportedly Different Than Any Other”

  1. dcdevito

    Finally, a company thinking outside the box and trying to do something different for a change.

  2. ben55124

    I'm rarely in a setting where I want to talk to a device -- perhaps that's just me. Until someone can figure out a direct brain API, IO options have peaked (for me).

  3. Pedro Vieira

    Lots of problems with these "voice commands as the main interaction point":

    1. people don't like talking to devices
    2. speech recognition is too prone to mistakes
    3. if its always listening, battery life will be terrible
    4. if its always listening, there will be privacy issues

    Someone tell Rubin to just stop right there and maybe focus on building a third mobile OS, instead of hardware.

    • skane2600

      In reply to PeteMiles:

      I agree with everything except the last. Rubin's Android didn't even support a touchscreen at the time that Google bought it. I'm not sure if he would be the best person to try to build a third mobile OS, not sure if he has enough time or money to do so. Not to mention the challenge of cracking a well-established market.

      Android and iOS enjoy the same sort of compatibility protection as Windows has enjoyed for many years.

  4. FalseAgent

    This could be far more interesting than the Essential Phone which was 'just another nice phone' on the market that wasn't differentiated enough.

  5. MacLiam

    I thought I had seen vultures circling above this company, so I am happy to hear there are still signs of life. I wish them well with this concept, and I will study the device feature list and spec sheet when it becomes available. But at this moment my next phone-like thing, which I expect to get maybe six or eight months from now, is likely to be either the big XS or the big Pixel 3, an announcement I make with some respect but no great enthusiasm for either device. Since I'm not in the market immediately, there is still time for another company to catch my attention. I have no great hopes Essential will be that company, but I am willing to be happily surprised.

  6. skane2600

    Given Essential's track record of over-promising and under-delivering, perhaps they should wait until they've been able to actually achieve their technical goals before talking publicly about them.

  7. Saxwulf

    This is surely what Andromeda is, a smartish thin client powered by Azure.

  8. chrisrut

    Well, Essential's first phone was also "different from any other."

    Note to self: different does not necessarily better make, nor does better necessarily successful make...

    However, I strongly agree with other posters; it's good to see someone trying to redefine the box.

  9. harmjr

    I hope they can pull this off. We need a better I have fallen and I cant get up pendant.

  10. waethorn

    "Essential's next phone will reportedly be able to reply to text and email by itself."

    WTH do I need a phone for then??

  11. Daekar

    Ouch, better start digging the grave for this company now. Or on second thought, it's going to make an impact crater big enough we might not need to bother.

  12. karlinhigh

    Why is it that people expect to communicate with devices by voice and with humans by text? Isn't this backwards?

  13. Minke

    Aargh! Why are voice commands so important to the tech industry? It is not something I can use about 98% of the day, so it is useless. I don't want to talk to my phone or my computer, thereby disturbing everyone around me and eliminating my own privacy. Just useless. I turned off Google's voice recognition for the Assistant because I can never use it.

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