If there’s one job I’d like AI to take away from me, it’s my daily email deletion ritual.
Every morning at 8:30 am, Google Calendar sends me a reminder that contains just one word: EMAILS. So, my formal workday begins with me quickly deleting almost all of the emails that arrive in my inbox overnight. They are largely useless and clog up the space between legitimate emails that I need to read and respond to.
However, imagine for a minute if you could tell an AI assistant to show you your most important emails and delete the rest. I asked Google Assistant on a Pixel 7 Pro to do this, and without a word, he walked me to my inbox so I could take care of it myself. Thanks a lot.
Google, like almost every other technology company in the world, is focused on AI right now. The company showed off a lot of new ideas for generative AI at I/O earlier this year: tools to help you compose a new message in Gmail, write a job description in Google Docs, and create a template for your dog-walking business in Google Sheets. .
They are unpredictable. Sometimes they’re helpful: I asked her to expand on a list of bulleted notes on some care instructions for my houseplants and added some helpful context about how often to water them. But often the answers it provides are obvious, like the weekly meal plan I asked Google Sheets to create for me. When I was asked to come up with healthy meal and snack ideas, I had some good suggestions, but left me to my own devices in the snack column with “fruits, vegetables, nuts, or yogurt” in each cell.
Then there’s Bard, the AI chatbot that Google apparently launched to compete with Bing earlier this year. It wasn’t very impressive in its initial state, although it has become more useful throughout the year. With a recent update, you can give Bard access to Gmail and Google Docs and ask him questions about them. It’s actually quite useful. I asked him to check my personal Gmail for important emails and he returned one about Fresh Hops Week at a local tavern. You know me too well, Google.
We’re now in the middle of Techtember and Google’s fall hardware event is quickly approaching. We’ll see the Pixel 8 (that’s not a surprise: Google already told us that in 20 different ways), and what I’m most interested in seeing is how it begins to bring together the company’s various ideas about AI and its usefulness in our day to day. day. lives.
Right now, Apple is allergic to saying AI, and Microsoft has some computers to sell you, but nothing shaped like a phone. If AI is really going to ease our daily tasks, as all the tech companies want us to believe, then the Pixel should be the device that shows us how it works. I’m not super keen on having generative AI write me emails regularly when I’m sitting in front of my computer, but I can think of a lot of things I’d like an AI assistant to be able to do for me on my phone.
For all its strengths, the current Google Assistant is still largely a small repetition machine
To start, it would be good to give myself a summary of those important emails and interpret them as reminders or to-do list items. I would listen to Google Assistant Bard do that while I make my morning coffee. Maybe if I asked it to find a good time to go for a run, it could compare my calendar and the hourly precipitation forecast, make a suggestion, and remind me 10 minutes before it’s time to head out the door. For all its strengths, the current Google Assistant is still largely a small repetition machine. You can tell me when my next meeting is or how likely it is to rain today, but you can’t put these two concepts together and make a suggestion.
Realistically, these types of features are still a long way off. One of the main barriers to allowing AI to run freely on your phone is processing power. AI needs a lot, and Google, like other companies, offloads the heavy lifting to the cloud when you ask Bard to summarize a document or write a meal plan. Consequently, it takes a while, much longer than most of us would tolerate with an on-device assistant.
Google’s custom Tensor chips are supposedly designed with the goal of doing more processing locally, but is its third-generation chipset up to the task? Given the common overheating complaints These are Pixel 7 phones, it seems unlikely that Tensor G3 will suddenly be ready to run much more complicated processes on the device. Still, even with Tensor’s current limitations, the Pixel 8 should offer us a glimpse of what AI can really do for us.
Realistically, you’re probably still cooking up a full Bard wizard on your phone. Google has also taken a cautious approach to rolling out generative AI, for better or worse, and the features announced at I/O are largely in beta. There was a report earlier this year that Google was reorganizing the Assistant team with the goal of making the product more like Bard, and I’m guessing we’ll see plenty of variants of this future in next week’s announcement.