The company behind popular iPhone customization app Brass, sticker maker StickerHub and others are today launching a new AI chat app called SuperChat, which lets iOS users chat with virtual characters powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, what differentiates the app from the default ChatGPT experience or the dozens of generic AI chat apps now available is the characters offered that you can use to interact with SuperChat’s AI features.
Characters include notable historical figures like Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, or Neil Armstrong, as well as those from public domain works, classic stories, or fairy tales, like Snow White or Medusa or Sherlock Holmes, as well as those who represent different professions, such as gardeners, chefs or therapists.
The company, Gorilla Technologies, has also created its own characters, such as its standard ChatGPT assistant named Aria. This chatbot can help users with daily tasks, such as writing emails or marketing expertise, for example.
“The goal is to make AI technology accessible to everyone, not just people who know how to write good prompts,” says Guglielmo Faglioni, CEO of Gorilla Technologies. “And we think this app will be a great tool for kids to learn about historical figures by chatting with cool characters like Shakespeare.”
The app itself is structured like a messaging app, he says, allowing users to have multiple conversations with different AI chatbots at the same time. The AIs themselves are powered by OpenAI technologies – specifically GPT-3.5-turbo, we’re told. During this time, the character illustrations were created using Midjourney.
A number of characters are available for free with the app download, while others can be unlocked through a premium subscription. However, this upgrade is quite expensive, given that the AI chat experience is available for free elsewhere – the cheapest plan in the app is $1.35 per week, if you choose an annual subscription (~$70/year). The weekly subscription seems out of reach, especially if children are the target market, at an overpriced $6.99 per week. The latter is a price that’s likely designed to capture people who want to play with the app for a week and then cancel, rather than those who want to commit for a year up front.
Still, it’s an interesting concept to put a face to an AI and have it interact in the style of its character.
That said, the characters themselves could use a bit more setup – beyond presenting themselves as the character or character in question, their subsequent interactions don’t seem to invoke speech patterns to make them sound like the character they are. they represent. For example, you might expect Dracula to punctuate conversations with a Bhahahaha, but instead responded like any other AI chatbot would. Other characters do a little better. For example, Zeus explained to us that he had the power to create lightning himself after explaining how lightning works in the natural world after asking a science question about it.
The characters however seem to be aware of their own history and will include it in their conversations, but their speaking style is more of a generic AI.
As a result, Superchat doesn’t compare to the experience offered by rival Poe, Quora’s chatbot app, where users can now create their own bots using prompts. While not limited to character creation, the feature has been used to create things like a hacker chatbot that actually responds like a hacker would, using language like “Avast, scurvy dog!” What is your business?,” instead of “how can I help you?”
Gorilla Technologies isn’t the only one thinking about combining AI with a character or avatar lately.
Last fall, Google acquired avatar AI startup Alter for $100 million and Korean startup called Neosapience raised $12.5 million for its synthetic voice and video platform, Typecast, which allows users convert text to video. But D-ID works in a space closer to what Superchat is trying with its new technology that gives both a face and a voice to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Its web app, however, is much more advanced, as it actually allows users to talk in face-to-face conversations with photorealistic AI.
Meta also said it is experimenting with AI chats in Messenger and WhatsApp, while Discord today offers a bot with ChatGPT-like functionality.
Superchat isn’t necessarily trying to invent new technology here, but instead hopes to capitalize on the hype around AI chatbots – a market that has seen user spending in the app increase by more than 4,000% by year-over-year, starting in March, to reach nearly $3 million in top apps. The top 10 mobile AI apps had already grossed over $14 million this year as of last month. By targeting a younger demographic with an experience that’s a lot like messaging, its chatbots feel more accessible than going to OpenAI’s website.
The app itself is free to download on iOS with in-app purchases. (As it was only released this morning, it may take a few hours to reach all users and markets on the App Store).