iFlytek, a leading Chinese voice recognition technology company and Huawei, China’s hope for the 5G age, have signed a cooperation agreement in Shenzhen. The collaboration will focus on 4 major sectors: public cloud service, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, smart ends, and office IT.

The cooperation hopes to grab each other’s industrial advantages in both AI component ecosystem and smart device manufacturing business. The partnership will enable iFlytek and Huawei to leverage collaborative strengths in B2B and B2C markets. The most immediate development: AI voice technology’s use and improvement in Huawei phones.

Read more: iFlytek’s journey from the bottom to the top of China’s voice AI industry

Huawei’s move is likely to lead to commercial advantages that may put the company in a more powerful leading position in world smartphone business. Huawei is also cooperating with BOE, China’s leading semiconductor display and sensor developer and manufacturer. The partnership with BOE aims to launch the world’s first smartphone equipped with a foldable screen in November 2018—a schedule even earlier than behemoths Samsung and Apple.

The deal, however, was obvious to keen market observers: On May 23, Yu Chengdong (also known as Richard Yu), CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said on his Weibo account that Huawei’s new Honor model scheduled to release on June 6, 2018, is carrying some “very surprising technology (很吓人的技术).” Local media noticed that iFlytek also confirmed in a short CCTV interview video that company contributed to the “very surprising technology” in voice recognition and commercial use sectors.

Earlier this month, during Google I/O 2018 conference, DeepMind’s Wavenet technology showcased 6 machine-produced human voices. Google Duplex deceived humans on the other side of the phone. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby, are all aggressively entering the game. Chinese smartphone makers—though owning massive data and diverse use cases—are still behind.

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email: runhuazhao@technode.com

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