This AI-powered app lets you chat with historical and fictional characters

With this new chat app, you can talk to AI versions of Leonardo DaVinci, Shakespeare, Hercules, Dracula, and many other famous and infamous characters.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Ever wanted to chat with your favorite people from history and literature? Short of traveling back in time or jumping into the pages of a book, you can now get as close as possible thanks to the power of AI. 

Designed for iOS/iPadOS, a new app named Superchat presents bots as well-known historical and fictional characters with whom you can chat. Thanks to TechCrunch for bringing attention to this innovative app.

What is Superchat?

The basic flavor of Snapchat is free but limits the number of characters to whom you can ask questions and send requests. For $6.99 a week or $69.99 a year, you can chat with any available character. Whether you go with the free or paid version, the choice of characters is imaginative.

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You can ask Isaac Newton if an apple really fell on his head, question Socrates about philosophy and ethics, talk to Flash Gordon about space travel, and get advice from Jay Gatsby on how to become rich.

Superchat's cast of historical and fictional characters
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Beyond the regular fictional and historical personalities, Superchat offers helpers from different professions to guide you. Ask a pastry chef for his best dessert recipe, a gardener about removing weeds, or a programmer about designing code for a new app. You'll also find a ChatGPT assistant named Aria whose mission is to help you write emails, cook up marketing plans, and more.

Also: How to use ChatGPT: What you need to know now

With all the buzz about ChatGPT and AI, companies and developers have been rushing to take advantage of the technology. Released on April 17, Superchat is powered by APIs from OpenAI's ChatGPT, specifically the GPT-3.5 Turbo Model. But Guglielmo Faglioni, CEO of Superchat developer Gorilla Technologies, told me that he's waiting for OpenAI to provide access to the GPT-4 API.

How to use Superchat

After installing Superchat from the App Store, launch the program. All the colorful characters appear on the screen with images designed using the Midjourney AI image creator. Just tap the character you wish to contact. That person introduces themselves with a brief description of who they are from history or literature. Your chat session then works like any other exchange. Type your question or request, and the character responds in their own style.

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For example, I asked Jay Gatsby how someone can get rich like him. In response, he acknowledged that his wealth came from questionable sources and advised me not to follow his path to riches. Instead, he spoke about more legitimate keys to financial success -- hard work, offering people a valuable skill or service, investing your time and resources, maintaining financial discipline, and networking with the right people.

Jay Gatsby offers advice on how to get rich
screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

The goal behind Superchat is to make AI accessible to more people, not just those who know how to write a great prompt, according to Faglioni. With that in mind, he thinks the app offers a great way for kids to learn more about historical figures by chatting with people like Shakespeare and Cleopatra. And because Superchat is built like a messaging app, you can have different conversations with all of the characters.

How did Superchat come about?

"Initially, the idea was to develop an AI voice-only assistant," Faglioni told me. He continued: 

However, during the development process, it became apparent that text-based functionality would be more effective for certain tasks, such as writing emails. As I continued to work on the app, I realized that having multiple conversations with the same assistant could become monotonous. That's when the idea of introducing different characters, such as a teacher, a gardener, a lawyer, or a therapist, came to mind. I wanted to create a diverse range of characters, including historical and fictional individuals, that users could engage with directly.

Also: How your kids can use ChatGPT safely, according to a mom

There's more in store for Superchat. Faglioni said that he's expanding the library of characters and enhancing existing ones. Versions of Superchat for the iPad and Mac will launch in a few days. And an Android release is due next month.

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