HTC’s new phones incorporate AI that adapts to user habits

The HTC U Play and U Ultra, HTC’s new smartphones, are powered by artificial intelligence technology designed to learn a user’s phone habits and adapt to them.

The AI software, called HTC Sense Companion, learns how the phone is used on a daily basis and tweaks its behaviour accordingly.

The phones are able to understand which apps and contacts are most regularly used and prioritise notifications received from or relating to them.

The phones are different sizes, with the larger U Ultra also featuring a second, smaller screen at the top of the display that is designed to stay on and offer a faster window to important notifications and other information, a feature HTC calls Priority Assistant.

The U Ultra comes with a 5.7in display, while the U Play has a 5.2in screen.

AI is becoming increasingly prominent in gadgets. Google for example launched its flagship Pixel smartphone in October that includes an AI-powered assistant along with Google Home, a voice-controlled speaker designed for home use. 

Amazon also released its voice-controlled Amazon Echo smart home speaker in the UK last year.

HTC says the Sense Companion will be able to help users save battery life by reminding them to charge the phone during the day when it spots a busy calendar, while also suggesting extra clothing and leaving more time to travel if bad weather is forecast.

The tech giant said the new phones “represent a new beginning for HTC” and also feature a predominantly glass body for the first time.

HTC has struggled for market share against some of its rivals in the smartphone business in recent years, particularly following the rise of Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei, who have further crowded the mobile marketplace.

The firm’s Vive virtual reality system, however, has become one of the leaders in the VR sector since its launch last year.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month HTC revealed a VR sensor that enables Vive users to bring any physical object into the virtual world. 

The new U Ultra also features voice-recognition capability that can be used to control the device even when it is asleep, HTC said, adding it can be used to snooze or dismiss alarms as well as take or reject phone calls.

The phones also feature HTC’s SonicU audio technology, which involves earphones that use sonar-like pulses to analyse a user’s hearing ability and adapt audio accordingly.

The firm is yet to announce pricing for the UK, though it did reveal the phones will be available in four colours, including a new “cosmetic pink” finish.

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