First Look While many of our readers were enjoying some holiday downtime, Microsoft was busy bringing Copilot AI to Android and iOS.
The software giant released Copilot apps for both platforms, with the Android version quietly debuting six days before Christmas and the iOS version arriving just before New Year’s Eve.
Both apps offer text-to-text, text-to-image searches, and use generative AI to generate detailed results.
Users will have the opportunity to adopt a language model of GPT-4 or lower. A Dall·E text-to-image generator is also available. Some queries require you to sign in with a Microsoft account.
The functionality of these apps appears to replicate what’s found in Microsoft’s Edge browser and Bing Chat service. The Bing Chat service has been rebranded to Copilot as the tech giant refines his AI service through 2023.
Microsoft’s motivation for bringing Copilot to rival mobile platforms is clear. That’s because the Windows maker doesn’t have its own mobile operating system, and while its Office apps do well on iOS and Android, it’s not a major mobile player. The city of Redmond isn’t particularly successful in search, either. That’s why the city is betting that AI will make Bing a better alternative to Google.
register So I tried out the two apps to assess their potential to advance Microsoft’s progress, and I was moderately impressed.
Our correspondent used a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to search for local weather. It took a few more seconds for the results to appear as I typed them into the browser’s search bar, but in the end they showed me information gathered from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Dall·E on the Ultra offered a nearly identical experience to what text-to-image services on other platforms offer. So it’s a 1024 x 1024 image, but sometimes there are glitches. When I asked the service to draw a picture of “a giant dinosaur with a cricket bat invading a cricket ground in Sydney,” it produced an image that anyone familiar with stadiums would not mistake for another location. It was done. Three of the four images accurately depict the bat, an impressive feat considering the relative obscurity of the location and sport.
It contained many reasons to quibble about its veracity, other than the existence of prehistoric creatures.
Cricket dinosaur – click to enlarge
Apps were probably a little snappier on the 7th generation iPad than on the Samsung. Samsung is even though he is 4 years younger than Apple’s Fondres Lab. The text generation caused the kind of glitches familiar to any user of a GPT-powered service. When asked by voice prompts to write a letter requesting that he be excused from jury duty on the grounds that his time away from work would be detrimental to his business, Service weaves the story of a one-man practitioner’s catering business. At least you weren’t picky about grammar and provided a warning that it’s wise to customize your letter to your particular situation.
AI-powered search and generation The big question with AI is whether existing services already perform better. I think Leonardo.ai is a much better text-to-image service than Dall•E. This is because Leonardo.ai is more flexible and allows for user-defined image sizes. The output of AI-powered searches is frustratingly brief, focusing on the machine-selected results rather than presenting you with options. Within the confines of a smartphone screen, the focus is even narrower.
So I can’t imagine the arrival of Microsoft’s Copilot app changing the search habits I’ve learned over a decade of using Android and iOS.
However, the app is useful for many people as it allows text to text conversion at the user’s fingertips.
Overall, these are solid apps, but I just don’t find them appealing enough to take over from the tools I already love. Text-to-Text, on the other hand, is a relatively new class of apps, giving Microsoft the first-mover advantage of building an audience before Apple and Google integrate similar functionality into their operating systems. ®