We can't say for sure whether or not AI is secretly plotting world domination – but it does appear that ChatGPT developer OpenAI has designs on replacing Google Assistant as the default helper tool on Android devices.
Some digging by the team at Android Authority has revealed hidden code in the latest version of the ChatGPT app for Android: code that triggers a small pop-up prompt at the bottom of the screen, just like Google Assistant (or Siri on the iPhone).
The thinking is that you wouldn't have to launch ChatGPT for Android to get answers from the AI bot – you could just hold down a shortcut button, or even say “hey ChatGPT”. There also seems to be a new tile in the works for the Quick Settings panel on Android, giving users another way of getting to ChatGPT.
This wouldn't exactly be a hostile coup – Android already allows the default digital assistant app to be switched, to something like Alexa or Bixby – but it's interesting that OpenAI wants to expand the reach of ChatGPT. As always though, plans can change, so it's not certain that we'll see this functionality appear.
In other ChatGPT news, the GPT Store that OpenAI promised last year is now scheduled to launch next week, after a delay – as per emails sent out to people signed up to a paid ChatGPT plan. It means users can create their own bespoke versions of ChatGPT and sell them on to other people and businesses.
These GPTs – or generative pre-trained transformers – are built on the same well of training data as ChatGPT, but they can be tweaked to take on specific personalities or accomplish particular tasks. Some rather obvious examples would be a bot that helps with tech support questions, or one that comes up with recipes.
Custom bots can also be loaded up with knowledge from outside OpenAI's vaults – so if you've written a hundred scientific papers on dinosaur fossils, for example, you're able to plug all of this data into a GPT and ask questions about the research. Right now, you need a ChatGPT Plus or Enterprise account to build a bot.
OpenAI is no doubt trying to foster the same kind of innovation and growth that we've seen in smartphone apps, ever since Apple opened the iPhone App Store in 2008. However, at the moment we're still waiting on a lot of details, including how users can get verified, and how sales revenue will be split.