Google announced Thursday that it would rename its popular artificial intelligence chatbot: Bard is now Gemini. At the same time, Google is also launching a new bot app for Android, intended to replace Google Assistant. The company will also launch a paid version of the bot called Gemini Ultra 1.0, which promises to be much more powerful than the free version.
This update represents a major shift in direction for the company and is potentially the most significant product release in years. It's also further proof that Google is committed to becoming an AI-driven company for the foreseeable future.
“Our mission with Bard has always been to give you direct access to our AI models, and Gemini represents our most capable family of models,” wrote Sissie Hsiao, Google vice president at Gemini. a blog post. “To reflect this, Bard will now simply be known as Gemini.”
The free version of the chatbot is called Gemini Pro and is available to all Google and Android users. Multi-modal AI allows users to prompt using text, voice commands and images. The next tier is Gemini Ultra, which costs $20 per month but offers access to its most powerful model. (This product is a direct response to OpenAI's $20 per month ChatGPT Plus subscription that gives users access to GPT-4.) In addition to the chatbot, users also get 2TB of cloud storage.
Despite the name change, the underlying model that powers Gemini will be essentially the same as Bard. The most notable update, however, is the fact that the company wants to integrate Gemini into Android phones as an alternative to Google Assistant, the company's virtual assistant software and answer to Apple's Siri. Once downloaded, Gemini would replace Google Assistant and apparently perform the same tasks such as “setting timers, making calls and controlling your smart devices,” Hsiao said.
But in practice, it's a different story, at least for now. Gemini is currently missing a range of basic features that many users rely on. For example, voice commands are not sent automatically when prompted. Gemini also can't perform certain tasks done by Google Assistant, such as creating reminders and events on Google Calendar. Hsiao noted that the company is “striving to support” more tasks and features in the future.
This begs the question: if Gemini can't perform simple tasks that many users rely on regularly, why release it? The answer is probably that Google is simply trying to keep up with the breakneck pace of the AI trend.
The release of OpenAI and the rapid adoption of generative AI by competitors such as Microsoft surprised Google. Since then, the company has rapidly integrated AI into its various products, notably its search engine and Google Workplace. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also been a driving force behind the company's AI efforts, even going so far as to spread outright lies about the capabilities of its technology.
Integrating a Gemini virtual assistant into their phones helps reinforce the idea that Google is an AI-driven company. This is the future of how we'll interact with our technology – or at least it is if Google has anything to say about it.
“This is an important first step in creating a true AI assistant,” Hsiao said, “one that is conversational, multimodal, and helpful.”