Mishaal Rahman, reporting for Android Authority on Tuesday:

If everything an AI gadget like the Rabbit R1 can do can be replicated by an Android app, then why aren’t these companies simply releasing an app instead of hardware that costs hundreds of dollars, requires a separate mobile data plan to be useful, and has terrible battery life? It turns out that’s exactly what Rabbit has done… sort of.

See, it turns out that the Rabbit R1 seems to run Android under the hood and the entire interface users interact with is powered by a single Android app. A tipster shared the Rabbit R1’s launcher APK with us, and with a bit of tinkering, we managed to install it on an Android phone, specifically a Pixel 6a.

Once installed, we were able to set up our Android phone as if it were a Rabbit R1. The volume up key on our phone corresponds to the Rabbit R1’s hardware key, allowing us to proceed through the setup wizard, create a “rabbithole” account, and start talking to the AI assistant. Since the Rabbit R1 has a significantly smaller and lower resolution display than the Pixel 6a, the home screen interface only took up a tiny portion of the phone’s display. Still, we were able to fire off a question to the AI assistant as if we were using actual Rabbit R1 hardware, as you can see in the video embedded below.

The Rabbit R1, just like the Humane Ai Pin, is nothing more than a shiny object designed to attract hungry venture capitalists. The entire device is an Android app, a low-end MediaTek processor, and a ChatGPT voice interface wrapped up in a fancy orange trench coat — in other words, nothing more than a grift that retails for $200. I’ve said this time and time again: These artificial intelligence-powered “gadgets” are VC money funnels whose entire job is to turn profits then disappear six months later when Apple and Google add more broad AI functionality to their mobile operating systems. In the bustle of the post-October 2022 AI sphere, Rabbit raised a few million dollars in Los Angeles, built together an Android app with a rabbit animation, bulk bought some off-the-shelf cheap electronics from China, engineered a bright orange case, put the parts together, made its founder dress up like an off-brand Steve Jobs, and poof, orders started flooding in by the thousands. Ridiculous.

The Rabbit R1, in many ways, is more insulting than the Humane Ai Pin, which I’ve already bashed enough. It is significantly more affordable, priced at $200 with no subscription — unlike Humane’s $700, $24-a-month product — but it is quite literally worse than the Ai Pin from Rabbit’s chief rival VC funnel in every metric. The entire device, as Marques Brownlee, a YouTuber better known as MKBHD, demonstrated in his excellent review of the device, is a ChatGPT wrapper with an ultra-low-end camera and a knob — or wheel, rather — used in favor of a touch screen presumably to make it seem less like a smartphone. In practice, it is a bad, low-end smartphone that does one thing — and only one task — extraordinarily poorly, consistently flubbing answers and taking seconds to respond. It is a smartphone that does everything poorly aside from looking great. (Teenage Engineering designed the Rabbit R1; I’ll give the product design props.) I am astonished that we are living in a world where this $200 low-end Android smartphone is receiving so much media attention.

Rahman contacted Jesse Lyu, Rabbit’s chief executive and co-founder, for comment on his article, and Lyu, grifter-in-chief at Rabbit, naturally denied the accusations in the stupidest way possible. I don’t even understand how this made it to publication; it’s genuinely laughable. Lyu’s justification for the device is that Rabbit sends data and queries to servers — presumably its own servers — for processing. Here is a non-comprehensive list of iOS apps with large language models built in that send data to the web for processing: OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, Anthropic Claude, and Perplexity — also known as every single AI processing app made by a large corporation because it is all but impossible to run LLMs on even the most sophisticated, powerful smartphone processors, let alone any random inexpensive MediaTek chip, such as found on the R1. The Rabbit R1 is an Android app that exchanges data with the internet with a cellular radio and some network calls. Any 15-year-old could engineer this in two weeks from the comfort of their bedroom.

I aggressively smeared the Humane Ai Pin not because I thought it was a grift, but because I thought it had no reason to exist. I thought and still think that Humane built an attractive piece of hardware and that the company still has conviction in creating a product akin to the smartphone in the hopes of eventually eclipsing it. (I think this entire idea is flawed, and that Humane will eventually go bankrupt, but at least Humane’s founders are set on their ambition.) Rabbit as an entire company, by stark contrast, is built on a throne of lies and scams: It came out of the woodwork randomly during the Consumer Electronics Show in January after raising $10 million the month prior from over-zealous VC firms, threw a launch party in New York with influencers and press alike, then shipped an Android app to consumers for $200. It’s a cheap smear of hard-working, dedicated hardware markers; it makes a mockery of true innovators in our very complicated technology climate in 2024. These “smartphone replacement” VC attractions ought to be bankrupt by, if not right after, June.