ChatGPT came to Android users in India in July after OpenAI made the app version of the viral chatbot available to people in more countries. We tried out the app to see if it has improved on the desktop experience.
Design and User Interface
The ChatGPT app brings the chatbot to Android smartphones with a clean chat-based interface and both light and dark modes. The overall operation remains the same: type in your query and wait for an answer to be generated.
The ChatGPT app comes with a microphone icon for voice typing. A side menu allows you to switch between modes, view or change the privacy settings, turn haptic feedback on or off, view your chat history, and select the primary language for voice typing.
With a long press, users may copy text, select it from a new screen, mark responses as good or bad, or regenerate responses.
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According to the Google Play Store, the ChatGPT app for Android does not share data with third parties, but collects data such as users’ location, personal information, messages, app activity, and app info/performance. Data is encrypted in transit and users may request data deletion.
The chat history is synced across devices so users can refer to old conversations and continue from where they left off on desktop.
While the desktop version of ChatGPT saw the answers generated word-by-word, the app is faster and entire paragraphs are quickly generated. However, the app uses strong and ultra-fast haptic feedback for every generated word, which makes the device vibrate. This is uncomfortable when waiting for long answers. Fortunately, the feature can be turned off in the app.
The app uses ChatGPT for Android, version 1.1.0023. We personally observed fewer instances of hallucination, or completely made-up answers, when using the app. Translations were relatively correct if reductive, and the app was able to directly translate Tamil text without requesting a romanised version as it did in the past. The ChatGPT app resisted giving specific answers or names in response to controversial questions, such as a list of sexual harassers in certain professions. However, ChatGPT still lacks some nuance and people should not use the chatbot for legal queries, medical questions, or advice concerning sensitive matters.
The voice typing feature was excellent, as it allows users to speak and then correct the transcribed text before sending in the question to the chatbot. Once corrected, ChatGPT quickly learns to recognise proper nouns and even words in Indian languages. The queries also come with correct punctuation as the voice typing feature can differentiate well between statements and questions. Users who enjoy making searches on the go will find this to be an indispensable feature.
ChatGPT Plus has not yet come to the app, so users will have to deal with the September 2021 knowledge cut-off, which grows riskier with each passing day.
Running the ChatGPT app and using it for queries does not seem to negatively impact a smartphone’s battery life or its temperature.
The ChatGPT app on Android is a definite upgrade when compared to the chatbot’s slow and jerky desktop experience. While the free version of ChatGPT is useful for basic queries and low-stakes situations where accuracy is not a priority, the knowledge cut-off is a major flaw and hallucination still takes place.
Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Bing might be more accurate chatbots, but for now the ChatGPT app makes for an easy, bloatware-free pocket companion.