“Hey Celia” – Huawei’s new digital assistant sounds awfully familiar

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Thanks to some American hostility Huawei’s got to do its own thing at the moment, meaning it can’t rely on Google having its back. The company unveiled its new digital assistant — which takes the place of the Google Assistant on (some of) its flagships — during its P40 livestream today and… it sounds awfully familiar.

What’s in a name?

Mostly it’s the name giving us pause. In common with most tech companies, Huawei’s chosen a female name for its new digital assistant. But why this one? The AI-powered helper, which doesn’t do anything unexpected for a mobile assistant, is called Celia. It’s activated by the keywords ‘Hey Celia.’ Say it out loud. Go on, say ‘Hey Celia’. See what your iPhone does if you do it nearby. Does Siri look… hurt, at all?

The name is just different enough to avoid any issues with the likes of Apple but just familiar enough that you might mistake it for Apple’s assistant if you’re not paying attention. But maybe the name’s okay, given that the skillset isn’t all that different. Celia isn’t capable anything special, her skills mostly comprising standard AI help. We’re dying to get our hands on it anyway — South African accents might give Celia a few headaches and we want to see if that’s the case. Celia is due to roll out to more countries in the coming months. We’re not sure if SA’s on the list, yet.

And there’s also something else Huawei’s borrowed from its competition.

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Huawei Share is a clone of Samsung’s Dex software and Apple’s Handoff feature, which allows for PC-based control of your smartphone using a wired connection to your PC. The interface shown off looks mighty similar to Dex, down to how notifications are displayed, and the drag-and-drop functionality is the same as well.

The ability to transfer work from screen to screen, the way Handoff works, is also included in Huawei Share. Users will be able to swap between working on their Huawei smartphones and a compatible Huawei tablet on the fly. Which is a cool feature to have, but the Chinese company definitely didn’t do it first.

Still, Huawei’s new smartphone is taking the fight to Samsung anyway. Their software features might as well come up to par as well.

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