Mobile World Live (MWL) brings you our top three picks of the week as AT&T struck a satellite-based broadband agreement with AST SpaceMobile, Google bolstered its search system with generative AI (GenAI) and Apple closed in on a deal with OpenAI.

AT&T, AST SpaceMobile draw closer to sat-to-phone launch

What happened: US operator AT&T inked a six-year commercial agreement with AST SpaceMobile to develop what would be the first satellite-based broadband network direct to mobile phones, with the companies already working towards commercial launch.

Why it matters: Speaking to MWL, Mike Thompson, practice director for space and connectivity at Access Partnership, stated AST SpaceMobile “has been proposing the satellite-to-mobile model for several years” but failed to gain traction from operators until recently. He added the deal could also be a response to SpaceX and T-Mobile US’ partnership on a similar offering “and a possible indication that cellular operators are taking the technology seriously”, though he noted technical details on the service remains opaque. However, the tie-up indicates “both T-Mobile and AT&T now see a commercial way forward to introduce these satellite augmentations”.

Google debuts AI-based search

What happened: Google took the lid off its Gemini-powered search engine, dubbed AI Overviews, with the service already available in the US and is set to expand to billions of users globally by end of this year.

Why it matters: Launched at its I/O developer conference, AI Overviews marked Google’s latest move to ramp up competitions with rivals in the segment. Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said “one of the most exciting transformations with Gemini has been in Google Search”, with VP of the product Liz Reid claiming the service can now help users explore the most complex queries. Leo Gabbie, principal analyst and director Americas at CCS Insight said Google’s AI capabilities “span a huge array of devices and services, with billions of people using Google products worldwide”. Gabbie expects customers of Google devices will reap the most benefits, “but for anyone who uses apps like Google Maps or Gmail, the infusion of AI should deliver a more intelligent user experience”.

Apple poised to make major GenAI move with OpenAI deal

What happened: Apple reportedly moved closer to closing its deal with OpenAI, a move that will see the iPhone-maker deploy ChatGPT features in its upcoming iOS 18. 

Why it matters: The news comes a few months after Apple reportedly explored a similar partnership with Google. Commenting on the news, Dan Ives, MD of equity research at Wedbush Securities, told CNBC that if an OpenAI deal is reached, “it’s really going to be the future of the iPhone” and that Tim Cook, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and OpenAI getting together can be “the nightmare for Google”.