The Rabbit R1 Joins the Humane Pin in the Junk Drawer

After the Humane AI Pin was evicerated across the internet, round 2 of AI crap has commenced with a device announced at CES earlier this year: the Rabbit R1. This $199 very-orange singular AI device was supposed to be the opposite of the pin. It has a screen, a killer design (by the minds at Teenage Engineering), and promises to simplify the AI stuff it can do into basic questions and taking action in your apps. And just like the Humane AI Pin, it sucks. A lot.

To make a long story short, the R1 does none of what people ask of it. In review after review the gist is this: it is a coin flip on whether it'll answer your request. Even if it does it can still lie (I can't seriously call it "hallucinate"). And in each review the promised things it should do like call an Uber or order food never work.

Then the kicker was then reported by Rob Amadeo at Ars Technica that the R1 is really just an Android app and you can run it on any hardware.

Android Authority's Mishaal Rahman looked at the software and found the "smartphone replacement" device just runs a smartphone OS. It runs AOSP (the Android Open Source Project codebase), which is the open source bits of Android without any proprietary Google code. The interface—which is mostly just a clock, settings screen, and voice input—is also just an Android app. Being a normal Android app means you can install it on an Android phone, and Rahman was able to get the Rabbit R1 software running on a Pixel 6. He even got the AI assistant to answer questions on the phone.

Rabbit has punched back saying you can't do everything with only the app because it won't fully connect to Rabbit's services. Okay, sure, but the point is this: we've seen two companies gunning for the smartphone with AI and with the common goal of making an AI assistant something you can rely on and not use your phone.

Google and Apple are surely laughing quite hard at how easily these two attempts have fared for Humane and Rabbit. The smartphone is what it is because it does everything, keeps expanding its capabilities, and is a form factor we all grok. People don't want to replace their phones because these gadgets don't do everything a phone does. Their promises don't do nor will they ever do everything we do on our phones. It is simply impossible right now and in the foreseeable future that this will change. And with every new technology that comes out (better bluetooth, 4G/LTE, LIDAR, Computer Vision, the list goes on) Google and Apple are quick to build them into its offerings.

I think it's great that companies are trying to break through the current state of our tech to bring us something new. I'm not saying they shouldn't try. But "AI" is so new and so unreliable and these products are so rushed that it's a lot of self-sabotage. And just like Humane, I suspect Rabbit will be gone in a year or so.

In its current form and/or uselessness, an AI-only gadget misses the mark. And when you come for the smartphone king, you best not miss.

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