So no, OpenAI didn’t roll out a search engine competitor to take on Google at its May 13, 2024 Spring Update event. Instead, OpenAI unveiled GPT-4 Omni (or GPT-4o for short) with human-like conversational capabilities, and it's seriously impressive. 

Beyond making this version of ChatGPT faster and free to more folks, GPT-4o expands how you can interact with it, including having natural conversations via the mobile or desktop app. Considering it's arriving on iPhone, Android, and desktop apps, it might pave the way to be the assistant we've all always wanted (or feared). 

OpenAI's ChatGPT-4o is more emotional and human-like

OpenAI demoing GPT-4o on an iPhone during the Spring Update event.

OpenAI demoing GPT-4o on an iPhone during the Spring Update event. (Image credit: OpenAI)

GPT-4o has taken a significant step towards understanding human communication in that you can converse in something approaching a natural manner. It comes complete with all the messiness of real-world tendencies like interrupting, understanding tone, and even realizing it's made a mistake.

During the first live demo, the presenter asked for feedback on his breathing technique. He breathed heavily into his phone, and ChatGPT responded with the witty quip, “You’re not a vacuum cleaner.” It advised on a slower technique, demonstrating its ability to understand and respond to human nuances.

So yes, ChatGPT has a sense of humor but also changes the tone of responses, complete with different inflections while conveying a “thought”. Like human conversations, you can cut the assistant off and correct it, making it react or stop speaking. You can even ask it to speak in a certain tone, style, or robotic voice. Furthermore, it can even provide translations.

In a live demonstration suggested by a user on X (formerly Twitter), two presenters on stage, one speaking English and one speaking Italian, had a conversation with Chat GPT-4o handling translation. It could quickly deliver the translation from Italian to English and then seamlessly translate the English response back to Italian.

It’s not just voice understanding with GPT-4o, though; it can also understand visuals like a written-out linear equation and then guide you through how to solve it, as well as look at a live selfie and provide a description. That could be what you're wearing or your emotions. 

In this demo, GPT said the presenter looked happy and cheerful. It’s not without quirks, though. At one point ChatGPT said it saw the image of the equation before it was even written out, referring back to a previous visual of just a wooden tabletop.

Throughout the demo, ChatGPT worked quickly and didn't really struggle to understand the problem or ask about it. GPT-4o is also more natural than typing in a query, as you can speak naturally to your phone and get a desired response – not one that tells you to Google it.  

A little like “Samantha” in “Her”

If you’re thinking about Her or another futuristic-dystopian film with an AI, you’re not the only one. Speaking with ChatGPT in such a natural way is essentially the Her moment for OpenAI. Considering it will be rolling out to the mobile app and as a desktop app for free, many people may soon have their own Her moments.

The impressive demos across speech and visuals feel may only be scratching the surface of what's possible. Overall performance and how well GPT-4o performs day-to-day in various environments remains to be seen, and once available, TechRadar will be putting it through the test. Still, after this peek, it's clear that GPT-4o is preparing to take on the best Google and Apple have to offer in their eagerly-anticipated AI reveals.

The outlook on GPT-4o

However, announcing this the day before Google I/O kicks off and just a few weeks after we’ve seen new AI gadgets hit the scene – like the Rabbit R1 – OpenAI is giving us a taste of truly useful AI experiences we want. If this rumored partnership with Apple comes to fruition, Siri could be supercharged, and Google will almost certainly show off its latest AI tricks at I/O on May 14, 2024. But will they be enough?

We wish OpenAI showed off a bit more live demos with the latest ChatGPT-4o in what turned out to be a jam-packed, less-than-30-minute keynote. Luckily, it will be rolling out to users in the coming week, and you won’t have to pay to try it out.

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