Google rebrands Bard AI to Gemini and launches a new app and subscription

Google rebrands Bard AI to Gemini and launches a new app and subscription

Google’s Gemini logo

Google has unveiled a new name and a new app for its AI chatbot and assistant, formerly known as Bard. The new name is Gemini, which reflects the AI models that power the chatbot. Gemini is a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, another popular AI tool.

Google also introduced new ways for users to access Gemini: Android users can get a new app for Gemini, while iPhone users can use Gemini within the Google app on iOS.

Google’s new name and app show its dedication to developing and investing in AI assistants or agents, which are tools that can do anything from chatting to coding to helping with work.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the company’s focus on AI during the earnings call on Jan. 30. Pichai said he wants to offer an AI agent that can do more and more things for users, including within Google Search, but he said there is “a lot of work to do.” Similarly, other tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon also expressed their commitment to building AI agents as productivity tools.

Google’s Gemini updates are a first step to “building a true AI assistant,” Sissie Hsiao, a vice president at Google and general manager for Google Assistant and Bard, said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.

Google also announced a new AI subscription option, for users who want to use Gemini Ultra 1.0, Google’s most powerful AI model. The subscription costs $19.99 per month through Google One, the company’s paid storage service. For existing Google One subscribers, the price includes the storage plans they already have. There is also a two-month free trial.

The new features are available to users in more than 150 countries and regions, but they only work in English for now. Google plans to add more languages soon, such as Japanese and Korean.

The new name also affects Duet AI, Google’s old name for the “packaged AI agents” within Google Workspace and Google Cloud, which are tools that can boost productivity and do simple tasks for clients like Wayfair, GE, Spotify and Pfizer. The tools will now be called Gemini for Workspace and Gemini for Google Cloud.

Google One subscribers who pay for the AI subscription will also get to use Gemini’s assistant features in Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Meet, executives said on Wednesday. Google hopes to add more context to Gemini from users’ content in Gmail, Docs and Drive. For example, if you were replying to a long email thread, suggested replies would take into account both previous messages in the thread and relevant files in Google Drive.

Why the new name? Google’s Hsiao said on Wednesday that it’s about helping users understand that they’re talking directly to the AI models that run the chatbot.

“Bard [was] the way to access our cutting-edge models, and Gemini is our cutting-edge models,” Hsiao said.

In the future, AI agents could do things like schedule a group hangout by checking everyone’s calendar, book travel and activities, buy gifts for loved ones or do a specific job function like outbound sales. But for now, the tools, including Gemini, are mostly limited to tasks like summarizing, making to-do lists or helping to write code.

“We will use generative AI again, especially with our most advanced models and Bard,” Pichai said on the Jan. 30 earnings call, talking about Google Assistant and Search. That “allows us to be more like an agent over time, if I think about the future and maybe go beyond answers and do more for users.”

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