Recent months have underscored a clear reality: smartphones continue to reign supreme.

The highly anticipated AI devices intended to alleviate our reliance on smartphones have proven to be disappointingly incomplete. Any hopes that products like the Humane AI pin or the Rabbit R1 would offer relief from the constant barrage of personal technology have evaporated. With Hot Gadget Spring now behind us, the developer season is in full swing, kicking off with Google I/O this upcoming Tuesday.

This juncture also marks a crucial moment for Android. I/O follows a significant reorganization that unified the Android team with Google's hardware division for the first time. The directive is straightforward: accelerate forward momentum and integrate AI into a wider array of products. Android's foundational ethos once centered around not favoring Google's proprietary products, but that paradigm began shifting years ago as hardware and software teams collaborated more closely. Now, with the removal of barriers and the dawn of the AI era, the landscape is poised for transformation. And if the past year is any indication, the transition may be a bit turbulent.

Despite Samsung and Google's concerted efforts, AI capabilities on smartphones have thus far amounted to little more than a handful of gimmicks. From transforming images of objects to summarizing meeting notes with varying degrees of accuracy, and even enabling screen-based searches by circling items, these functionalities are undoubtedly handy but fall short of presenting a cohesive vision for our AI-driven future. However, Android holds the key to unlocking a pivotal door that could amalgamate these features more seamlessly: Gemini.

Gemini emerged as an AI-powered alternative to the conventional Google Assistant just over three months ago, albeit with a sense of unfinished refinement. Upon its debut, it lacked access to users' calendars.

Yet, as I revisit Gemini, its transformative potential becomes increasingly evident in how it could revolutionize smartphone usage. It has the ability to memorize a dinner recipe and guide users through the cooking process step by step. It can discern when users pose the wrong question and redirect them to the information they truly seek (for example, clarifying that figs, not dates, are the fruits containing dead wasp parts). It can even identify specific Paw Patrol toys – a testament to its versatility and practicality.

However, these capabilities still seem like mere party tricks. The true value of Gemini will only be realized when it seamlessly integrates across the entire Android ecosystem – when it becomes ingrained in your earbuds, your smartwatch, and deeply embedded within the operating system itself.

Android's success in the AI era hinges on these integrations. Unlike ChatGPT, Gemini possesses the ability to readily access your emails and calendars, as well as maintain a comprehensive history of your past decade's whereabouts. These are tangible advantages, and Google must leverage them to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving landscape. With indications that Apple intends to unveil a significantly enhanced Siri at WWDC this year, and with competitors like Microsoft and OpenAI making strides, Google cannot afford to remain complacent. It must fully capitalize on its strengths to deliver AI capabilities that transcend mere party tricks – even if it requires departing from the traditional Android approach.