Here’s how Google is preparing Android for the AI-laden future


The future of Android will be a lot smarter, thanks to new programming tools that Google unveiled on Wednesday. The company announced TensorFlow Lite, a version of its machine learning framework that’s designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices, during the keynote address at its Google I/O developer conference.

“TensorFlow Lite will leverage a new neural network API to tap into silicon-specific accelerators, and over time we expect to see [digital signal processing chips] specifically designed for neural network inference and training,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android. “We think these new capabilities will help power a next generation of on-device speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more.”

The Lite framework will be made a part of the open source TensorFlow project soon, and the neural network API will come to the next major release of Android later this year.

The framework has serious implications for what Google sees as the future of mobile hardware. AI-focused chips could make it possible for smartphones to handle more advanced machine learning computations without consuming as much power. With more applications using machine learning to provide intelligent experiences, making that sort of work more easily possible on device is key.

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