The company behind popular iPhone customization app Brass, sticker maker StickerHub, and others is out today with a new AI chat app called SuperChat, which lets iOS users chat with virtual characters powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, what makes the app different from the standard ChatGPT experience or the dozens of generic AI chat apps available now is the characters on offer that you can use to use SuperChat’s AI features.
The characters include notable historical figures such as Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Cleopatra or Neil Armstrong, plus those from public domain works, classic stories or fairy tales, such as Snow White or Medusa or Sherlock Holmes, as well as those representing different professions such as gardeners, cooks or therapists.
The company, Gorilla Technologies, has also created its own characters, such as its default ChatGPT assistant called Aria. This chatbot can help users with daily tasks such as writing emails or marketing expertise.
“The goal is to make AI technology accessible to everyone, not just people who know how to write great prompts,” explains Guglielmo Faglioni, CEO of Gorilla Technologies. “And we think this app will be a great resource for kids who want to learn more 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 once. The AIs themselves are powered by OpenAI technologies – specifically GPT-3.5 turbo, we’re told. Meanwhile, the artwork for the characters was created using Midjourney.
Some of the characters are available for free when downloading the app, while others can be unlocked through a premium subscription. However, this upgrade is quite pricey considering the experience of chatting with AIs is available for free elsewhere – the app’s cheapest plan is $1.35 per week, if you opt for an annual plan (~$70/year). The weekly subscription seems out of reach, especially if children are the target audience, at an overpriced $6.99 per week. The latter is a price likely designed to lure people who want to play with the app for a week and then cancel, rather than those who want to commit for a year in advance.
Still, it’s an interesting concept to put a face to an AI and have it interact in the style of their character.
That said, the characters themselves could use a bit more configuration – aside from introducing themselves as the character or persona in question, their later interactions don’t seem to evoke any speech patterns to make them sound like the character they represent. For example, you might expect Dracula to punctuate conversations with a Bwhahaha, but instead it reacted just like any other AI chatbot. Other characters fared slightly better. For example, Zeus told us how he had the power to create lightning himself after explaining how lightning works in the natural world after being asked a scientific question on the subject.
However, the characters seem to be aware of their own history and will incorporate it into their conversations, but their speaking style is more of a generic AI.
As a result, Superchat cannot 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 pirate chatbot that actually responds the way a pirate would, using language like “Avast, you scurvy dog! What is your business?,” instead of “how can I help you?”
Gorilla Technologies isn’t alone in thinking about combining AI with a character or avatar lately.
Google bought AI avatar startup Alter for $100 million last fall, and Korean startup Neosapience raised $12.5 million for its synthetic voice and video platform Typecast, which lets users turn text into video. But D-ID operates in a space closer to what Superchat is trying to achieve with its new technology that gives both a face and a voice to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, the web app has evolved much further as it allows users to have face-to-face conversations with a photorealistic AI.
Meta also said it’s experimenting with AI chats in Messenger and WhatsApp, while Discord today offers a bot with ChatGPT-like features.
Superchat isn’t necessarily trying to invent new technology here, but rather hopes to capitalize on the hype surrounding AI chatbots — a market where in-app user spending has grown more than 4,000% year-over-year, as of March, at nearly $ 3 million for the best apps. The top 10 mobile AI apps had already raked in more than $14 million this year, as of last month. Targeting a younger demographic with an experience much like messaging makes the chatbots feel more accessible than going to OpenAI’s website.
The app itself is a free download on iOS with in-app purchases. (Since it was only released this morning, it may take a few hours to reach all users and markets in the App Store).