It looks like the Essential Phone is getting a successor. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Essential has begun work on a new phone that will use artificial intelligence that mimics the user to perform tasks like automatically respond to messages.
It seems as though Essential is working full steam ahead on the new project — in fact, it has reportedly paused development on things like a planned home speaker and potentially some other products in order to put its focus on the new phone.
Even the design of the new phone would be totally different than other smartphones, according to the report. It will reportedly have a small screen, and the user will mostly interact with it through voice controls, which will work with Essential’s own artificial intelligence software. In other words, the device will aim to be more of a digital assistant than any phone before it.
It all sounds a bit sci-fi, but that’s apparently the point. Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android and founder of Essential Products, is reportedly trying to build a device that “captures people’s imagination” by being something that’s totally different from the competition.
Of course, Essential has a long road ahead of it. Currently, the consumer A.I. space is dominated by the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple, but even the assistants from those companies sometimes fail, forcing the user to manually perform the task they’re asking the assistant to do. With a phone that has only a small display, manually doing tasks may be much harder. The new device, however, could be targeted at those who want to spend less time using their phones.
So when will we see Essential’s new device? Essential reportedly aims to have the first prototype ready by the end of the year, but it’s unlikely consumers will see what that prototype looks like. According to the Bloomberg report, Essential is aiming to show the device off to industry partners at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas — though consumers probably won’t see the device until well into 2019.
Even when Essential does eventually release the new device, there’s no guarantee that it will sell — and if it doesn’t, this could be one of the last devices we see from Essential.