Ina Fried

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Android Chief Says Your Phone Should Not Be Your Assistant

Andy Rubin thinks there is a lot of potential for phones to be more useful companions, but says he is not interested in turning Android devices into personal assistants.

“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant,” the Android chief said in an interview on Wednesday just after appearing on stage at AsiaD. “Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”

Of course, several million people have already gone out and bought the iPhone 4S, which has as one of its chief selling points the voice-controlled assistant known as Siri.

Rubin said the jury is still out on whether people will take to talking to their phones to control them.

“To some degree it is natural for you to talk to your phone,” Rubin said, but historically that has meant talking to another person. As for talking to your phone without actually trying to connect to another person, Rubin says he’s not so sure. “We’ll see how pervasive it gets.”

Rubin noted that one of his Android co-founders, Rich Miner, had a cellphone speech company called Wildfire, while General Magic also pursued the idea.

“This isn’t a new notion,” he said. “In projecting the future, I think Apple did a good job of figuring out when the technology was ready to be consumer-grade.”

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