Two years after departing Google, Andy Rubin is about to make headway on the smartphone industry — a field he helped push.
Rubin is the creator of Android, a mobile operating system running on more than 86 percent of all mobile phones in existence as per IDC. He's planning to merge artificial intelligence with his prowess in software engineering, and he's doing it to produce consumer hardware.
He's not alone in that venture, however. His team is composed of 40 individuals — some poached from Apple and some from Google — and they're called Essential, a forthcoming company Rubin will helm, reports Bloomberg, citing individuals familiar with the matter.
The Creator Of Android Will Create A Smartphone
Essential is poised to become a platform company looking to fuse multiple devices together. It's currently developing a suite of consumer hardware products for something as integral as mobile and something as nascent as smart homes. The centerpiece will be a smartphone with an edge-to-edge screen sans a surrounding bezel.
The smartphone in question, however, is currently in its prototyping phase, although Rubin is intent on putting it in parallel ranks where the iPhone and the Pixel flagships sit atop. The phone is expected to be manufactured with high-end materials, metal edges, and a ceramic back panel. It's also expected to boast the ability to gain hardware features over time, which might allude to an idea similar to modular smartphones.
One prototype of Rubin's smartphone boasts a larger screen than the iPhone 7 Plus but one that gains a smaller footprint because of the bezel's absence. What's more, Rubin is currently trying to create a screen that can sense pressure, similar to Apple's 3D touch technology.
A proprietary connector is in the works too, being designed in a way that will enable charging the handset and bringing expanded functionality over time. Developers can come out with compatible accessories with the said connector, and not just accessories, but also hardware peripherals to be clear. For example, Rubin's team is working on a 360-degree camera that will attach to the connector, allowing users to create high-res 360-degree photographs right from the phone.
AI Is The Future
Google bought Android in 2005. Rubin spent eight years at the company, developing an operating system that would later become the most prevalent platform on mobile devices globally, which is no easy feat. After exiting Google's doors in 2014, his next venture became Playground Global, a startup centered on robotics, AI, and augmented reality.
AI, according to Rubin, is the major inflection point the technology industry will experience and in some ways is already experiencing. Every decade or so, he said in June, new platforms naturally emerge, and this time, it's AI.
"What's the next platform? It's about data and people training AI systems to learn," Rubin said.
Pricing And Availability
Rubin is aiming for a price point close to that of the iPhone 7's, although plans still fluctuate at this stage of the phone's development. It's being tipped for mid-year launch, and Foxconn is already in discussions to manufacture it, Bloomberg's report claims.
Trademarks for Rubin's company, Essential, have already been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Bloomberg's report didn't expand on other products Essential is currently developing, save for "a suite" of consumer hardware products — and this has all come about without Rubin's official confirmation. The tech industry is just revving up this year, but it's already becoming an all-bets-are-off situation now that Android's creator is aiming to parallel the pantheon of smartphones dominating the field today. We'll see how this "Essential" phone pans out.