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LG V30 (2018) coming with new AI features at MWC 2018—and it sounds dull

LG has outlined some of the AI features arriving with its new LG V30 in a couple of weeks, but they're unoriginal and uninspiring.

Published onFebruary 13, 2018

The LG V30 in Raspberry Rose.
  • LG has revealed that a new version of the LG V30 is headed to MWC 2018, complete with added AI capabilities.
  • LG’s Vision AI component will integrate with the camera to offer automatic and voice-assisted features.
  • Included among them is automatic shooting mode detection and a smart shopping function.

LG has announced a 2018 edition of its latest flagship phone, the LG V30, and is calling it its “most advanced flagship smartphone to date.” LG broke the news in a press release earlier today, stating that the handset would arrive at MWC 2018 at the end of this month.

The company didn’t divulge details about the handset’s specs or design—though it may come with 256 GB of storage as we heard last week—but did discuss a new AI component. Called Vision AI, this will be comprised of image and voice recognition features: let’s take a look at them below.

Automatic shooting mode selection

LG says Vision AI can automatically determine the best shooting mode for a specific use case using its image recognition algorithms. Point the V30 (2018)’s camera at some food, for example, and it will change to “food mode”—a setting which sharpens the image and makes it warmer.

The V30 features similar modes like portrait, pet, and landscape, all of which will be automatically activated when the AI detects the shooting scenario.

Low-light shooting mode

Vision AI will also include a new “low-light shooting mode” that will brighten dark images—making them twice as bright, according to LG. Rather than try to make an image lighter based on how dark the environment is, LG’s solution is to measure the brightness of the subject, supposedly leading to a much more accurate brightness level.

Smart shopping

Similar to the automatic shooting modes, Vision AI will make use of smart image recognition for shopping too. The LG V30 (2018) can launch an image search, scan QR codes automatically, and provide options on where to purchase an item for the lowest price, all based on what the camera is pointed at.

Voice commands

Finally, LG is adding new voice commands to allow users to change camera settings without searching for them manually. These integrate with Google Assistant so that you could say things like “OK, Google: wide-angle selfie” to take a wide-angle selfie or “OK, Google: Cine Video Melodramatic” to shoot a melodramatic Cine Video. LG has announced nine new commands but it hasn’t yet outlined the keyphrases for them (they’re currently listed as “pending”).

LG said it will expand these AI capabilities in the future and that they won’t just appear on new devices: older models will get similar features via OTA somewhere down the road. We’ll learn more at MWC in a couple of weeks.

Closing thoughts

I fear this is shaping up to be another Bixby: a first generation AI product that isn’t all that useful. LG says it spent more than a year “researching how AI should be implemented in smartphones,” and that the result was a “suite of AI technologies that is aligned closely with the needs and usage behavior of today’s users.”

Sorry, but I don’t buy it.

Google Assistant-based voice commands for accessing camera settings is just about the weakest use of artificial intelligence I can think of, largely because it’s a shortcut to something that doesn’t take very long.

Worse than it being unimpressive, though, is that one of the other main features of Vision AI is to automatically determine which shooting mode you want. If that actually works, why then do we need the voice commands? This wouldn’t be as disappointing if these features didn’t account for 50% of what LG announced about the new AI.

Google selling access to its giant AI cloud systems
google tensor processing unit

The smart shopping functionality is also unoriginal (it’s basically Google Goggles, which was released seven years ago) and will be quickly forgotten about.

I mean, are we really expected to believe that these are the user needs that LG identified after more than a year of research?

The low-light feature is the only one that stands out because, if LG has found a way to significantly improve camera performance in low-light conditions, it would be a very exciting development for smartphones in general. However, based on what LG has said so far, I don’t have much faith.

What are your thoughts on LG’s latest announcements? Let me know in the comments.

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