Google isn’t done trying to demonstrate Gemini’s genius and is working on integrating it directly into Android devices

Google’s newly reworked and rebranded family of generative artificial intelligence models, Gemini, may still be very much at the beginning of its development journey, but Google is making big plans for it. It’s planning to integrate Gemini into Android software for phones, and it’s predicted that users will be able to access it offline in 2025, according to a top executive at Google’s Pixel division, Brian Rakowski.

Gemini is a series of large language models that are designed to understand and generate human-like text and more, and the most compact, efficient model of these is Gemini Nano, intended for tasks on devices. This is the model that’s currently built and adapted to run on Pixel phones and other capable Android devices. According to Rakowski, Gemini Nano’s larger sibling models that require an internet connection to run (as they only live in Google’s data centers) are the ones expected to be integrated into new Android phones starting next year. 

Google has been able to do this thanks to recent breakthroughs in engineers’ ability to compress these bigger and more complex models to a size that was feasible for use on smaller devices. One of these larger sibling models is Gemini Ultra, which is considered a key competitor to Open AI’s premium GPT-4 chatbot, and the compressed version of it will be able to run on an Android phone with no extra assistance.

This would mean users could access the processing power that Google is offering with Gemini whether they’re connected to the internet or not, potentially improving their day-to-day experience with it. It also means whatever you enter into Gemini wouldn’t necessarily have to leave your phone for Gemini to process it (if Google wills it, that is), thereby making it easier to keep your entries and information private – cloud-based AI tools have been criticized in the past for having inferior digital security compared to locally-run models. Rakowski told CNBC that what users will experience on their devices will be “instantaneous without requiring a connection or subscription.”

Three Android phones on an orange background showing the Google Gemini Android app

(Image credit: Future)

A potential play to win users' favor 

MSPowerUser points out that the smartphone market has cooled down as of late, and some manufacturers might be trying to capture potential buyers’ attention by offering devices capable of utilizing what modern AI has to offer. While AI is an incredibly rich and intriguing area of research and novelty, it might not be enough to convince people to swap their old phone (which may already be capable of processing something like Gemini or ChatGPT) for a new one. Right now, the makers of AI hoping to raise trillions of dollars in funding are likely to offer versions that can run on existing devices so people can try it for themselves, and my guess is that satisfies most people’s AI appetites right now. 

Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others are all trying to develop their own AI models and assistants to become the first to reap the rewards. Right now, it seems like AI models are extremely impressive and can be surprising, and they can help you at work (although caution should be heavily exercised if you do this), but their initial novelty is currently the biggest draw they have.

These tools will have to demonstrate continuous quality-of-life improvements to be significant enough to make the type of impression they’re aiming to make. I do believe steps like making their models widely available on users’ devices and giving users the option and the capability to use them offline is a step that could pay off for Google in the long run – and I would like to see other tech giants follow in its path. 


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WhatsApp could soon let you directly message other apps like Signal

Meta is currently working on improving WhatsApp’s interoperability by giving users the ability to directly message people on different platforms like Signal.

Evidence of this upgrade comes from WABetaInfo revealing the feature was found on a recent WhatsApp beta for iOS. The post offers very few concrete details, but enough that we can paint a picture of what the final release may look like.

An image on the post shows the Chats tab will have a new section exclusive for third-party conversations, storing all outward chats. Users will apparently be given manual control over this function with the option to disable it at any time. Additionally, text messages to and from third-party sources will sport end-to-end encryption to ensure complete privacy. 

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It’s unknown exactly how many or which platforms will be able to communicate with WhatsApp. Signal is only mentioned as an example.

Normally, we would direct you to install the WhatsApp beta on iOS to try out this feature. However, the TestFlight program for the platform is completely full at the time of this writing. No word on whether or not extra spots will open in the future. But, if you own an Android phone, you can join the Google Play Beta Program and download the WhatsApp beta from there. You might get the opportunity to try out the update. Google’s service tends to have more spots available for people interested in early software builds.

New rules

Although it’s not officially confirmed, WABetaInfo believes this increased interoperability is the result of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). 

The DMA, if you don’t remember or are familiar with it, is a law that was passed back in 2022 aimed squarely at major tech corporations. Its main purpose is to limit the amount of power these “gatekeepers” have over the industry and their users. One of the new rules requires companies that own a messaging platform (i.e. Meta) to allow people to talk to others on third-party apps. EU regulators didn’t like the fact these services function essentially like islands; isolated from each other and forcing users to play by their rules.

After the law passed, government officials in Europe gave these corporations ample time to prepare their services for when the DMA officially goes into effect. The EU will begin enforcing the legislation on March 6.

It’s unknown when WhatsApp’s interoperability upgrade will roll out. Given that the effective date is a little over a month away, we may see it come out sometime in February or very early March. Perhaps, it'll come out to Android first since its beta has been out since September 2023. Keep in mind that this is all speculation on our end. Things can always change.

Until then, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best encrypted messaging apps for Android of 2024.

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You can now draw directly on a PDF – but only if you have an Android phone

Making specific amendments to a PDF file on your Android device could soon be a lot more hands-on thanks to a new update.

Google Drive has announced a new feature that will allow users to annotate or draw onto a PDF file when viewing a preview on their Android device with their finger or stylus.

The company says its new annotation tools will offer users of the cloud storage platform a quick and easy way to make edits whilst on the move, for example when travelling to a meeting or on their commute.

Android PDF edits

When updated, users will now see a new pen-shaped floating action button (FAB) in the bottom-right corner of the screen when opening a PDF file in Google Drive for Android, which when tapped, opens up a new toolbar of options to draw and annotate with.

The pen tool is available in red, black, blue, and green with multiple stroke thicknesses, ranging from 8 to 40px. These can be adjusted by dragging a slider with your finger or stylus. 

There is also a highlighter, which is available in yellow, green, blue, or purple, and an eraser, which is able to remove any strokes you may have made, alongside undo and redo capabilities. Finally, there is an option to hide all edits entirely. 

Your annotations can then be directly saved to the file if it is a PDF, or you can create a new PDF copy of the file with the annotations saved to it. And if you'd prefer a cleaner view, the toolbar can also be snapped to the side of the screen by tapping and holding.

The new function is rolling out now, with users downloading the latest version of Google Drive set to be the first to enjoy – although they will need to have Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above installed on their device.

The update is one of a series of recent upgrades to Google Drive, as the company looks to ensure its service remains useful and intuitive for users everywhere.

It recently added a new toolbar for multi-selecting files too, which Google hopes will make bulk changes easier to accomplish, alongside new “search chips”, which will find files fast by filtering for criteria such as file type, when a document was last modified, and who they have been shared with.

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