Previously we heard that the next project for the company would be a smart speaker rather than the next Essential Phone.
Instead, this device will uniquely use artificial intelligence to essentially copy you and respond for you, according to Bloomberg, which described the yet-to-be-announced device as something desigend to free people from their phones. A second Essential smartphone was scrapped as it was found too similar to other devices already on the market. It is an interesting development, as a report back in May had suggested that Essential was considering selling itself and cancelled the development of a new smartphone.
In an interview with Bloomberg previous year, Rubin suggested the phone could become a virtual version of its owner, helping detach people from their smartphones. It might also help in solving "part of the (smartphone) addictive behavior".
Although novel, the concept faces many practical challenges.
Essential is backed by about $300 million, making it Silicon Valley's most ambitious consumer-electronics upstart in years. People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the company has set aside work on a smart speaker and a follow-up to its first smartphone released past year, in order to focus on the AI device.
By the time Essential chose to put the home-speaker project on hold, it had already lost key engineers working on the project amid disagreements over the prospects for launching such an ambitious device.
Essential proved they had an excellent hardware design on their hands with the PH1 which ran stock Android, allowing them to be the first non-Google phone to receive the Android Pie update in August when it was released.
One of the sources adds that Essential is aiming to have a prototype of the phone finished by the end of 2018 and may show it off to industry partners at CES 2019 in January.