In less than a year, artificial intelligence (AI) has risen to be the most verbalized topic among the internet-frequenting populace. The credit for AI’s roaring fame largely goes to ChatGPT — the famous chatbot with humanoid responses. The same technology is now being brought to Android phones — not as a third-party app, but as a deeply integrated virtual assistant.
Infinix, previously in the news for its blazing fast-charging tech that charges a phone fully in under eight minutes, is the first phone company to bring ChatGPT to a smartphone as a virtual assistant with the Infinix Zero 30, which was unveiled last week at the Venice Film Festival.
I tried the ChatGPT-powered features on Infinix’s new phone and instantly realized what I have been missing with the Google Assistant.
Infinix’s virtual assistant, “Folax,” has been refashioned to generate responses using ChatGPT on the Zero 30 smartphone. For this, Folax relies on Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI APIs — a set of precalibrated tools that many companies use to leverage the power of ChatGPT for their products.
While ChatGPT already offers a chatbot app for Android devices, Infinix’s implementation goes deeper than getting quirky responses from a well-informed algorithm. It uses OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 Large Language Model (LLM) to comprehend complex or overlayered instructions and sequentially execute them. This mainly gives it the superpower to take action based on multiple commands simultaneously — with much better proficiency than Google Assistant, Android’s default voice assistant.
Google’s own generative AI tools have made tremendous leaps based on advanced machine-learning language models, including LaMDA, which powers Google’s own chatbot, Bard. It has furthered research into generative AI with improved models such as PaLM and PaLM 2.
These improvements have remained distant from Google Assistant, which has been limited to facilitating media playback on phones and Nest-branded smart speakers or reduced to being a means of directing users to Google search and other apps. While Google has attempted to integrate its AI prowess into Google Assistant, it has shied away from releasing these to the public.
To fill the gap, unofficial methods to replace Google Assistant with ChatGPT have cropped up, but it is impossible to achieve without a knack for tinkering with the hidden workings of Android.
ChatGPT-based Folax is a potential candidate for beating traditional voice assistants such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon Alexa. Here are some reasons Folax, based on ChatGPT, scores a lead against Google Assistant.
Broader knowledge with better responses
Since ChatGPT’s public release last year, we’ve seen countless impressive and surprising use cases of the chatbot — including its ability to write essays and poems, review and correct computer code, ace exams of varying complexity, draft regulatory bills, and much more. The same skills trickle down to the version of Folax on Infinix Zero 30. It can offer highly nuanced and detailed responses based on the complexity of the question.
OpenAI’s GPT-3 machine learning model has been trained using over 45 terabytes of text-based data, including books (physical as well as online journals0, articles, webpages, etc. Therefore, ChatGPT — and thus, Folax — tends to offer far more detailed responses than Google Assistant. This aligns with the core principle of generative AI, wherein every response is uniquely generated word by word.
Google Assistant, on the other hand, primarily sources its results from the web. Since Google Assistant aims for brief and concise responses, it may often direct you to Google search results instead of reading the answers aloud. Unlike Folax, Google Assistant cannot generate answers and only responds to what is easily accessible through Google Search.
Another advantage Folax has over Google Assistant is its ability to acknowledge and answer complex questions with multiple parts. This corresponds to Folax’s generative AI features that allow it to process and make sense of questions by breaking them down into a sequence of words.
Simply put, you may speak uninterruptedly for several minutes, asking multiple questions along the way, and can still expect Folax to give you valid responses for each of them. These questions may not be related, and you can still expect them to be processed. The responses are also transcribed, so you can always read or copy them for later processing.
Comparatively, Google processes only the first question. It tries to shove subsequent questions into the first one’s context, but ignores them if it takes too long. You may even find Google Assistant shutting off midway as you fumble or restructure your thoughts.
One of ChatGPT’s most impressive features is its ability to enact different characters — both fictional and based on real people. You can ask ChatGPT to act in a professional role such as a hiring manager” or “say it like Shakespeare,” and it will alter its responses by assuming the role — and does it efficaciously. Whether it is to prepare for an upcoming interview or add charm to your words, the ability makes Folax extremely useful and productive.
Google Assistant cannot assume the role of different people to make the conversation more zestful or effective. Its abilities are limited to mimicking a celebrity’s voice, but that may be restricted to certain regions and languages.
No real-time information or access to the internet
While ChatGPT benefits from an enormous trove of training data, some information may be incorrect or outdated because GPT-3.5 has only been trained with data up to July 2021. This means if you ask Folax about events beyond mid-2021, it may spew unreliable responses.
If you want Folax to fetch results from Google search, you must explicitly instruct it. However, Folax cannot directly utilize these search results or respond using voice.
This may change when Infinix switches to a more advanced version of GPT, such as GPT-4, which can source information through the internet. However, considering GPT-4 is available as part of OpenAI’s paid tier, ChatGPT Plus, Folax may not receive the functionality soon — at least not on midrange devices such as the Infinix Zero 30.
Still prone to hallucinations
Generative AI’s biggest advantage is also its biggest bane. Because it generates texts sequentially (i.e., adding word by word), it is prone to getting off-track and responding with erroneous answers or cooking up incorrect facts. This is rightly known as “hallucination” in AI models.
Since Folax is inherently drawing responses from ChatGPT, it can often hallucinate and present incorrect answers — often very confidently. Once again, the only way to remedy this is to upgrade to newer models, such as GPT-4 (or equivalent), which have fewer hallucinations and more accurate responses.
Besides its prowess in AI, the Infinix Zero 30 is amply stocked. For its approximate price of $339 (converted price since the smartphone is not available in the U.S.), the Zero 30 offers unusual features in this price bracket — including a 120Hz Full HD+ curved AMOLED display, a 108MP camera, a sub-flagship MediaTek Dimensity 8020 chipset, and 68-watt fast charging.
A few standout features on the Infinix Zero 30 include the following:
4K selfie video at 60 fps
Infinix furnishes the Zero 30 with a 50MP selfie camera capable of 4-in-1 pixel binning for high-quality shots even in challenging lighting. While this is not extraordinary, what stands out is that this camera supports 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second (fps) — a feature that has remained exclusive to much more expensive and premium devices such as the iPhone, Google Pixel, or high-end Samsung Galaxy phones.
Besides 4K video recording at 60 fps, the Zero 30’s front camera also offers autofocusing capabilities, which is rare, even on premium devices. This ensures a subtle and authentic optical blur while capturing selfie videos and vlogs — just like we see on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.
While most midrange chipsets lack support for these features — due to the heavy processing load of 4K recording at 60 fps — the Infinix Zero 30 benefits from MediaTek’s special chip optimized for high-quality video recording. The Dimensity 8020 chip features a special Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) that helps prioritize camera-related tasks and enables the chip to capture 4K videos with ease.
For photography, this APU comes in handy for seamless and automatic exposure control and object tracking, which ensures consistent and blur-free shots.
Besides text-based conversations, another AI feature on the Infinix Zero 30 that stands out is its real-time translation. While translation features fall under the umbrella of the Folax assistant, they do not rely on ChatGPT — due to GPT-3.5’s limited ability to process text only. They can, however, be invoked using Folax.
Besides regular text-based translation, Folax Translate offers real-time transcription and translation for in-person conversations and lets you translate straight from images. Further, like Google Assistant’s Screen Context, Folax can actively translate text or media on display. For messaging apps specifically, Infinix has inserted another feature that instantly translates incoming texts to your preferred language.
AI wallpaper generator
Lastly, Infinix is said to bring an AI-based wallpaper generator to the Zero 30 (and other models powered by the future versions of Folax). Unlike Android 14‘s AI wallpaper generator, Infinix will rely on a text-to-image diffusion model, similar to MidJourney, taht will be developed in-house.
However, the feature’s efficacy can only be tested when it becomes available in the coming months.
Infinix took a brave route of integrating ChatGPT into its virtual assistant. I call this brave because Google Assistant is predominantly the default virtual assistant on Android and hogs the limelight at Folax’s expense. Even if Infinix manages to promote Folax as the more adept virtual assistant (it can’t get rid of Google Assistant altogether), new users will have to face the dilemma between trying something exciting and the fatigue of learning something new.
From a technology standpoint, it may not be long before Google implements AI-based responses in the Assistant. But until that is realized, Infinix has some advantage in convincing people about its acumen. From the depth of responses, I firmly believe I need my voice assistant to be smarter than Google Assistant currently is.
The general momentum for AI is in Infinix’s favor, but that only matters if it can reach markets where people care about the development of AI. With brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo no longer displaying the same fervor as earlier, Infinix is emerging as a viable competitor in parts of the Asian, African, and European phone markets (its Chinese origin may be the reason it doesn’t launch in the U.S. soon). The brand has recently turned its focus to Europe, where patent conflicts with Nokia are driving Oppo and Vivo out, but persistence will be critical.
Lastly, Infinix may face some challenges with abating privacy concerns. While using Folax, you cannot sign in with your OpenAI account and cannot opt out of data collection. This means Microsoft, OpenAI, or Infinix may access your conversations with the virtual assistant to improve the quality of responses. In the future, the company might include the cost of using ChatGPT in the phone’s pricing or introduce a paid model.However, the price-conscious who cherish a phone loaded with features may find the Infinix Zero 30 an attractive option tyhanks to its sub-$350 pricing.