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[Gadgets] Turns out the Rabbit R1 was just an Android app all along / AI is in its Juicero era.


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Since it launched last week, Rabbit’s R1 AI gadget has inspired a lot of questions, starting with “Why isn’t this just an app?” Well, friends, that’s because it is just an app. Over at Android Authority, Mishaal Rahman managed to download Rabbit’s launcher APK on a Google Pixel 6A. With a little tweaking, he was able to run the app as if it were on Rabbit’s own device. Using the volume-up key in place of the R1’s single hardware button, he was able to set up an account and start asking it questions, just as if he was using the $199 R1. Oh boy. Related Rabbit R1 review: nothing to see here The Rabbit R1: all the latest news about this hare-raising AI gadget Rahman points out that the app probably doesn’t offer all of the same functionality as the R1. In his words: “the Rabbit R1’s launcher app is intended to be preinstalled in the firmware and be granted several privileged, system-level permissions — only some of which we were able to grant — so some of the functions would likely fail if we tried.” But the fact that the software runs on a midrange phone from almost two years ago suggests that it has more in common with a plain ‘ol Android app than not.

Rabbit founder and CEO Jesse Lyu disagrees with this characterization. He gave a lengthy statement to The Verge that we’ve partially quoted below — it was also posted

to Rabbit’s X account if you want to read it in full.

“rabbit r1 is not an Android app... rabbit OS and LAM run on the cloud with very bespoke AOSP and lower level firmware modifications, therefore a local bootleg APK without the proper OS and Cloud endpoints won’t be able to access our service. rabbit OS is customized for r1 and we do not support third-party clients.” The R1 isn’t alone; Humane’s AI pin appears to run on a version of Android’s open-source software, too. But it’s the R1 in the hot seat right now as the first reviews have started to trickle out — and they’re not great, Bob. Rabbit issued its first software update earlier today to address some complaints, including a fast-draining battery. That issue seems to be better controlled post-update; my R1’s idle battery performance is vastly improved after downloading the update this morning. But the bigger problem is that the R1 just doesn’t do enough useful things to justify its existence when, you know, phones exist. It looks like this AI gadget could have just been an app after all. Update April 30th 11:23PM ET: Added a statement from Rabbit CEO Jesse Lyu.

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