Smartphone guru hints at dystopian, AI dominated ‘post-app’ future

Carl Pei, co-founder of the OnePlus smartphone brand, reckons there will be no need for apps in the future because your phone will already know what you want.

Scott Bicheno

June 6, 2024

2 Min Read
source: carl pei X

Pei’s current venture is the Nothing smartphone brand, which sets itself up as a trailblazer in redefining the smartphone paradigm. The first iterations of this ambition, however, were very much evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But, in a video published to X, Pei reckons the latest developments in AI will enable him to finally come up with something genuinely new.

“In the future there will be no more apps” declared Pei. “The operating system knows everything it needs to know about you and it will call on all the services and string them together to make your day easier.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, because people also love their apps – people are really bought into their app experiences… And you can’t just ship a product and be like ‘here, there’s no more apps, are you going to buy it?’… So the challenge for us is to build a bridge from today’s app-based user experience to tomorrow’s post-app world.”

Surely people like apps because it’s through them that they tell their phone what to do. Part of that transition, according to Pei, will be using AI and all the information your phone has about you to enable apps to ‘talk to each other’. One manifestation, which Nothing’s R&D team is currently working on, is to make the smartphone home screen less of an app launcher and ‘more of a hub of contextual, relevant information’. The researcher said he wants to make your phone feel almost like your best friend.

The prototype consists of empowering a phone with a chirpy AI voice that, not content with harvesting your digital footprints, asks you a bunch of unsolicited, nosey questions. This culminates in the creating of a unique companion that knows you better than you know yourself. To better enable it to run your life, Nothing is exploring ways of it even chirping up when the phone is locked, presumably in order to ensure you’re always making the right choices.

Luddite caution aside, the automation of repetitive tasks and even the anticipation of your needs by phone-based AI is not only potentially useful, but inevitable. The ideal balance will result from properly empowering the user to control how presumptuous and intrusive their AI buddy will be. Maybe some kind of simple slider on the home screen, ranging from ‘STFU’ to ‘run my life’ would be a simple solution.

We should start to see some of these UI experiments in the wild when Nothing launches the Phone [3] next year. The Verge notes that much of what is being worked on seems very similar to the latest Chat GPT iterations, but Pei seems to think his differentiator will be its tight integration with the rest of your phone and its platform. Public response to the Phone [3] will be a good measure of how willing people are to surrender their personal agency to AI.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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