Chinese telecom company Huawei is developing its own voice assistant which is expected to be called as HiAssistant. The voice assistant will compete with the existing apps including Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri and other artificial intelligence based apps such as Google Lens and Samsung Bixby. The feature initially will be limited to Chinese users and will come with devices that feature Kirin 970 SoC and are running on EMUI 8.1.
According to a report on XDA-Developers, the details of the virtual assistant and HiAI applications has been accessed from the firmware files of Huawei Mate 10 running on EMUI 8.1 and Android 8.1 Oreo. HiVoice which comes pre-installed with Huawei smartphones in China takes care of basic controls such as placing a phone call or telling the current location. It is not as sophisticated as other existing assistants in the market.
Features of Huawei HiAssistant
The Neural Processing Unit (NPU) on the HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC is expected to bring full capabilities to the new virtual assistant. According to the report, HiAssistant will allow the user to control nearly every setting including software functions such as auto-rotation, night mode, volume levels, display colour temperature, glove mode, location settings and hotspot/mobile data using the user's voice. HiAssistant will also be able to search for specific categories of items including music albums, anime, books, movies, TV shows and more. It will also cover almost all the features offered by Google Assistant and the Google app, such as the ability to search for food, emoticons, buses, music, airplane tickets, navigation routes, taxis, train tickets, videos through Weibo.
Huawei HiAssistant, Google Lens and Samsung Bixby
The codes found in the firmware also hint of feature that will allow the users to control chat apps such as QQ and WeChat. The features seen on Google Lens and Samsung's Bixby will also be available on the HiAssistant app. It will be able to recognise categories of objects such as food, passports, people, accessories, animals, appliances, tools, toys, vehicles and more.
The HiAI Mobile Computing platform on the SoC allows third-party apps to use its scene recognition to recognise beach, bicycles, cars, cats, dogs, fireworks, flowers, and more. It can also read barcodes, text.
Natural Language Understanding (NLU) on Huawei HiAssistant
Huawei HiAssistant will be based on Natural Language Understanding (NLU) which is able to interpret unstructured sentences from human input and allows the user to communicate despite mispronunciations, colloquialisms, and other quirks of speech. According to the report, the Huawei’s HiAssistant application on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is based on HiAI Mobile Computing platform will help the company taking on apps that come with similar features such as Google Lens and Samsung's Bixby.
The new feature is also expected to solve one of the biggest problems that current voice assistant face. Users will no longer have to learn a precise phrase to achieve a desired outcome.
The HiAssistant is expected to only be seen on devices housing the HiKirin 970 SoC as it houses the NPU on board. EMUI version 8.1 is expected to come with the upcoming Huawei P20 series.
The functionality of the voice assistant can be tested once it will be launched on the Huawei devices.