Let’s take a break from talking about the latest smartphones and gasping at the long list of features of the new Samsung GALAXY S8 to talk about the other part of the mobile ecosystem equation: the software. The smartphone landscape continues to be a two-horse race, with iOS and Android leading the market. Sure, there are other operating systems on the market, but they are hardly catching up at this point.
Both iOS and Android has its brand of a virtual assistant built into the operating system. Other variations are also available, including Samsung’s latest Bixby and Windows 10’s own Cortana. It is interesting to note that these virtual assistants, the smartphones you use every day, actually know you better than you think.
Our Mobile Life
Over 80% of our lives are now lived or stored digitally. We take pictures with our smartphones, buy stuff from different online merchants on the go, and communicate with others on mobile phones most of the time. We go on social media and the World Wide Web to catch up with what’s happening in the world around us.
These activities are sources of information. Thanks to big data and machine learning, smartphones and the virtual assistants in them can now learn so much about you and your everyday activities. It’s part of the reason why Google Assistant can automatically inform you about traffic accidents on your route home and why Siri automatically suggests restaurants that serve burgers when you ask for nearby places to visit.
Naturally, there are a lot of concerns surrounding how tech companies gather information for machine learning purposes. When you first set up an Android phone, for example, you are asked whether to allow the OS to gather user experience-related information. The same question is asked when you set up an iPhone.
There are policies in place. Machine learning enables tech companies to learn about its users without actually revealing anything specific. The data is studied as big batches while maintaining an incredible level of precision. Nevertheless, you have the option to opt-out if you don’t want the virtual assistants to learn more about you personally.
A Bright Future Ahead
What’s interesting is the immense personalization today’s top virtual assistants are capable of. Both Google Assistant and Siri can make personalized recommendations, understand personalized queries, and create a more humane mobile experience. That’s the ultimate goal to achieve; to create a smartphone user experience that feels very personalized.
Top universities such as New Jersey Institute of Technology and their online masters in computer science programs are also hosting research in advanced machine learning. Students who are pursuing their online masters computer science degree are actively involved in shaping the future of smartphones and machine learning in general.
It won’t be long before smartphones become even bigger parts of our lives. Imagine having a smartphone that wakes you up at the right time without you having to manually set an alarm or one that can remind you to buy some milk on your way home from work based on your past purchase habits or routines; how cool would that be?