Friday, May 24, 2024

Android’s AI era includes eavesdropping on phone calls, warning you about scams

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Google’s “code red” demands that AI be part of every single Google product and that includes Android. At Google I/O, the company announced a “multi-year journey to reimagine Android with AI at the core” but only demoed a few minor AI enhancements.

Gemini can soon be brought up via the power button as an overlay panel, where it will have access to whatever’s on your screen. The demo involved opening a PDF in Android’s PDF reader, summarizing it, and answering questions based on the content. You can do something similar with a YouTube video. The demo also showed generating images based on a text prompt and then sending those images in a text message. Another demo involved Gemini understanding a chat log and suggesting future actions.

Talkback, Android’s system for low-vision users, will soon be able to use AI to describe images that lack descriptive text.

The wildest demo revealed that Gemini will listen to your phone calls. One demo involved a scam phone call where the scammer on the other end claimed fraudulent charges were happening on your account and that the best way to secure your money would be to transfer it to a new account. After hearing the scammer speak the request to transfer money, the Google phone app popped up with a warning: “Likely scam. Banks will never ask you to move your money to keep it safe.”

Google says that some of these features will require the pay-per-month Gemini Advanced. The company says all of these features will happen on-device, so your phone calls and PDFs will not be streamed to the Internet. It still feels just a bit creepy to have an AI listen in on your phone calls.

In other Android news, Android 15 is being demoted to Day 2 of Google I/O, when it used to be headline keynote stuff. An operating system is not AI, so it’s not making the keynote.

Listing image by Aurich Lawson / Getty Images

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