Meet the Rabbit R1: a little orange box that redefines the use of apps with the help of artificial intelligence

Meet the Rabbit R1: a little orange box that redefines the use of apps with the help of artificial intelligence

The Rabbit R1 can fit in the palm of your hand and will be able to answer questions, play a Spotify playlist, or call a taxi with the push of a button. Sounds familiar, right? The Rabbit R1 is not a smartphone in the traditional sense. Instead, it promises to be a personalized personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence Ships in late March for $199.

Our phones are great for so many things, like taking vacation photos, entertaining us with an endless stream of bite-sized videos, and acting as our personal planner. That’s exactly the problem, according to Jesse Liu, founder and CEO of AI technology startup Rabbit. He believes the countless apps and functions available on our phones have been stripped of their simplicity, and he’s trying to change that with the R1, which debuted at CES 2024.

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Watch this: A first look at the Rabbit R1 Mobile AI device

Do not interact with the R1 by opening applications; Alternatively, you can press the physical push-to-talk button to ask a question or play a song on Spotify as if you were talking to a walkie-talkie. The phone’s software is powered by a large business model or algorithm that can learn from how humans use apps and interfaces so it can replicate and automate those processes. Leo likens it to handing your phone to a friend to order takeout instead of doing it yourself.

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The Rabbit R1 AI Assistant looks quite old in orange

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There is no shortage of virtual assistants capable of doing almost what Rabbit’s R1 claims to do. Google and Amazon are also equipping their virtual assistants with generative AI technologies to make them better at handling complex requests more easily. Leo sees the need for a device that’s specifically designed to get things done and is separate from your phone and therefore less distracting. He argues that just because your phone can do the same thing doesn’t mean it’s a superior experience.

This argument is going to take a lot of convincing, especially considering how glued we are to our phones. A survey from Reviews.org found that 89% of Americans check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up, and 60% sleep with their phones on at night. However, the Rabbit R1, along with Humane’s recently announced AI Pin, is another sign that tech companies are increasingly looking to build new tools around AI. Many have already found the promise of Rabbit tempting enough to demand R1. The company announced on January 10 that it It sold 10,000 units on its first day From pre-orders.

The R1 has a simple appearance

Rabbit R1 is sitting at the table

Joon Kim/CNET

The R1’s bright orange color, relatively small screen, and scroll wheel give it a nostalgic, almost retro look. It’s incredibly lightweight and is half the size of your average smartphone, as you can see in the photo of the R1 on top of my iPhone 15 below. In fact, its size and shape feel similar to using a foldable phone like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or the 2023 Motorola Razr when closed, though it’s noticeably lighter.

Bunny R1 on top of iPhone 15

The Rabbit R1 is roughly half the size of the iPhone 15.

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The R1 actually shares some similarities with smartphones, like the touchscreen and camera, but these parts are used in different ways.

The back of the R1 rabbit

The Rabbit R1 comes in bright orange.

Joon Kim/CNET

For example, the R1 doesn’t have a traditional phone operating system, but instead uses a 2.88-inch screen to display cards in response to your requests. The camera isn’t actually meant to document your days on Instagram, but rather to help with visual queries like taking photos of what’s in your fridge to generate recipe ideas.

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Although it’s not positioned as a phone, you can definitely make phone calls with it because it has a SIM card slot as well as Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. It is powered by a 2.3GHz MediaTek Helios P35 processor and has 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM.

It doesn’t run apps, but it can connect to your apps

Rabbit R1 plays music

Rabbit R1 will be able to use applications for you.

Joon Kim/CNET

The R1 device does not have applications in the traditional sense, but rather connects to services to fulfill requests. Playing a playlist on Spotify or calling Uber requires linking these apps to your Rabbit account through an online portal. This can end up being a cumbersome process, considering that you’ll have to manually connect any service you want Rabbit to consider for your usage. Rabbit says it doesn’t store any login data and that authentication methods happen in the application system.

The device uses Rabbit’s Big Business Model to execute tasks, along with OpenAI’s GPT-4 model to understand your spoken requests. During my brief trial period, I asked the Rabbit R1 to play music and answer basic knowledge-based questions. The ears on the animated on-screen bunny icon rose adorably when I pressed the side button to recite my command. I’ll need to spend more time with it before I know how well it works as a personal assistant to get things done more quickly and efficiently than on my phone.

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With the R1, Rabbit takes on an ambitious goal by trying to carve out a place for a new gadget in our lives in a world already full of screens and sensors. However, it is interesting to see new devices developed in response to the increased interest in AI that we have seen over the past year. However, the Rabbit experience should be compelling enough to convince you to buy a new device instead of continuing to use ChatGPT, Google Bard, and other AI assistants on devices you already own.

For more, look beyond the most exciting smartphone and mobile technology we saw at CES.

Editors’ Note: CNET uses an artificial intelligence engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.

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