On Thursday, the company announced that it is renaming its Bard chatbot to Gemini, developing a dedicated Gemini app for Android, and integrating all Duet AI features in Google Workspace under the Gemini brand. It also revealed that Gemini Ultra 1.0, the largest and most capable version of Google’s huge language model, is now available to the public.
Gemini’s mobile apps are likely to be where most consumers first discover the new capability. If you download the new app for Android, it can replace Google Assistant as the entity that reacts when you say “Hey Google” or long-press your home button. So far, it does not appear that Google is discontinuing Assistant outright, but the firm has been deprioritizing Assistant for some time, and it is evident that Gemini is the future. “I think it’s a super important first step towards building a true AI assistant,” adds Sissie Hsiao, head of Google’s Bard (now Gemini). “One that is conversational, it’s multimodal, and it’s more helpful than ever before.”
There is no separate Gemini app for iOS, and you can’t designate a non-Siri assistant as the default anyway, but you’ll have access to all of the AI features through the Google app. To give you an idea of how essential Gemini is to Google, there will be a button at the top of the app that allows you to go from Search to Gemini.
For the majority of Google’s existence, Search has been by far the most important product; yet, Gemini is beginning to show signs that it may be equally essential. (For the time being, Google’s in-search AI is still known as Search Generative Experience, but it will likely be renamed Gemini shortly.)
The other adjustments to Gemini are primarily branding-related. Google is dropping the Bard name, but its chatbot will continue to function as before; the same is true for all of the AI capabilities within Google’s Workspace products, such as Gmail and Docs, which were previously known as “Duet AI” but are now also known as Gemini. These are the features that allow you to compose an email, organize a spreadsheet, and complete other work-related tasks.
The majority of users will continue to use the regular version of the Gemini model, known as the Gemini Pro. To use Gemini Ultra, the most powerful version of the model, you must first sign up for a Gemini Advanced subscription, which is included in the new $20-per-month Google One AI Premium plan. The subscription also includes 2TB of Google Drive storage and all of the other capabilities of the Google One subscription, thus Google presents it as a $10 monthly increase for those users. For everyone else, it costs the same as ChatGPT Plus and other products $20 a month appears to be the going rate for a high-end AI bot.
Hsiao claims that for $20 per month, Gemini Ultra “sets the state of the art across a wide range of benchmarks across text, image, audio, and video.” The Ultra model may contain more information and have longer conversations, and it is intended to perform better at sophisticated tasks such as coding and logical reasoning.
It’s not surprising that Google is so invested in Gemini, but it raises questions about the company’s capacity to compete with OpenAI, Anthropic, Perplexity, and the expanding list of other sophisticated AI competitors on the market. In our tests shortly after the Gemini introduction last year, the Gemini-powered Bard performed admirably, virtually matching GPT-4, but was substantially slower. Now, Google must demonstrate its ability to keep up with the industry as it works to create a compelling consumer product while also persuading developers to build on Gemini rather than OpenAI.
Only a few times in Google’s history did it appear that the entire firm depended on one issue. It then became Google Plus. We know how that turned out. However, it looks like Google is now completely committed to being an AI corporation. That means Gemini might be as huge as Google.