Assistant with Bard video may show how it’ll work and when it could land on your Pixel

New footage has leaked for Google’s Assistant with Bard demonstrating how the digital AI helper could work at launch.

Nail Sadykov posted the video on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) after discovering the feature on the Pixel Tips app. Apparently, Google accidentally spilled the beans on its tech, so it’s probably safe to say this is legitimate. It looks like something you would see in one of the company’s Keyword posts explaining the feature in detail except there’s no audio.

There will, based on the clip, be two ways to activate Assistant with Bard: either by tapping the Bard app and saying “Hey Google” or pressing and holding the power button. A multimodular input box rises from the bottom where you can type in a text prompt, upload photos, or speak a verbal command. The demo proceeds to only show the second method by having someone take a picture of a wilting plant and then verbally ask for advice on how to save it. 

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A few seconds later, Assistant with Bard manages to correctly identify the plant in the image (it’s a spider plant, by the way) and generates a wall of text explaining what can be done to revitalize it. It even links to several YouTube videos at the end.

Assistant with Bard has something of a badly kept secret. It was originally announced back in October 2023 but has since seen multiple leaks. The biggest info dump by far occurred in early January revealing much of the user experience as well as “various in-development features.” What’s been missing up to this point is news on whether or not Assistant with Bard will have any sort of limitations. As it turns out, there may be a few restrictions.

Assistant Limitations

Mishaal Rahman, another industry insider, dove into Pixel Tips searching for more information on the update. He claims Assistant with Bard will only appear on single-screen Pixel smartphones powered by a Tensor chip. This includes the Pixel 6, Pixel 7, and Pixel 8 lines. Older models will not receive the upgrade and neither will the Pixel Tablet, Pixel Fold, or the “rumored Pixel Fold 2”.

Additionally, mobile devices must be running the Android 14 QPR2 beta “or the upcoming stable QPR2 release” although it’s most likely going to be the latter. Rahman states he found a publication date in the Pixels Tip app hinting at a March 2024 release. It’s important to point out that March is also the expected launch window for Android 14 QPR2 and the next Feature Drop for Pixel phones.

No word on whether or not other Android devices will receive Assistant with Bard. It seems it’ll be exclusive to Pixel for the moment. We could see the update elsewhere, however considering that key brands, like Samsung, prefer having their own AI, an Assistant with Bard expansion seems unlikely. But we could be wrong.

Until we learn more, check out TechRadar's list of the best Pixel phones for 2024.

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Google Gemini is its most powerful AI brain so far – and it’ll change the way you use Google

Google has announced the new Gemini artificial intelligence (AI) model, an AI system that will power a host of the company’s products, from the Google Bard chatbot to its Pixel phones. The company calls Gemini “the most capable and general model we’ve ever built,” claiming it would make AI “more helpful for everyone.”

Gemini will come in three 'sizes': Ultra, Pro and Nano, with each one designed for different uses. All of them will be multimodal, meaning they’ll be able to handle a wide range of inputs, with Google saying that Gemini can take text, code, audio, images and video as prompts.

While Gemini Ultra is designed for extremely demanding use cases such as in data centers, Gemini Nano will fit in your smartphone, raising the prospect of the best Android smartphones gaining a significant AI advantage.

With all of this new power, Google insists that it conducted “rigorous testing” to identify and prevent harmful results arising from people’s use of Gemini. That was challenging, the company said, because the multimodal nature of Gemini means two seemingly innocuous inputs (such as text and an image) can be combined to create something offensive or dangerous.

Coming to all your services and devices

Google has been under pressure to catch up with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and its advanced AI capabilities. Just a few days ago, in fact, news was circulating that Google had delayed its Gemini announcement until next year due to its apparent poor performance in a variety of languages. 

Now, it turns out that news was either wrong or Google is pressing ahead despite Gemini’s rumored imperfections. On this point, it’s notable that Gemini will only work in English at first.

What does Gemini mean for you? Well, if you use a Pixel 8 Pro phone, Google says it can now run Gemini Nano, bringing all of its AI capabilities to your pocket. According to a Google blog post, Gemini is found in two new Pixel 8 Pro features: Smart Reply in Gboard, which suggests message replies to you, and Summarize in Recorder, which can sum up your recorded conversations and presentations.

The Google Bard chatbot has also been updated to run Gemini, which the company says is “the biggest upgrade to Bard since it launched.” As well as that, Google says that “Gemini will be available in more of our products and services like Search, Ads, Chrome and Duet AI” in the coming months, Google says.

As part of the announcement, Google revealed a slate of Gemini demonstrations. These show the AI guessing what a user was drawing, playing music to match a drawing, and more.

Gemini vs ChatGPT

Google Gemini revealed at Google I/O 2023

(Image credit: Google)

It’s no secret that OpenAI’s ChatGPT has been the most dominant AI tool for months now, and Google wants to end that with Gemini. The company has made some pretty bold claims about its abilities, too.

For instance, Google says that Gemini Ultra’s performance exceeds current state-of-the-art results in “30 of the 32 widely-used academic benchmarks” used in large language model (LLM) research and development. In other words, Google thinks it eclipses GPT-4 in nearly every way.

Compared to the GPT-4 LLM that powers ChatGPT, Gemini came out on top in seven out of eight text-based benchmarks, Google claims. As for multimodal tests, Gemini won in all 10 benchmarks, as per Google’s comparison.

Does this mean there’s a new AI champion? That remains to be seen, and we’ll have to wait for more real-world testing from independent users. Still, what is clear is that Google is taking the AI fight very seriously. The ball is very much in OpenAI’s (and Microsoft's) court now.

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Meta was late to the AI party – and now it’ll never beat ChatGPT

Meta – the tech titan formerly known as Facebook – desperately wants to take pole position at the forefront of AI research, but things aren’t exactly going to plan.

As reported by Gizmochina, Meta lost a third of its AI research staff in 2022, many of whom cited burnout or lack of faith in the company’s leadership as their reasons for departing. An internal survey from earlier this year showed that just 26% of employees expressed confidence in Meta’s direction as a business.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg hired French computer scientist and roboticist Yann LeCun to lead Meta’s AI efforts back in 2013, but in more recent times Meta has visibly struggled to keep up with the rapid pace of AI expansion demonstrated by competing platforms like ChatGPT and Google Bard. LeCun was notably not among the invitees to the White House’s recent Companies at the Frontier of Artificial Intelligence Innovation summit.

That’s not to say that Meta is failing completely in the AI sphere; recent reveals like a powerful AI music creator and a speech-generation tool too dangerous to release to the public show that the Facebook owner isn’t exactly sitting on its hands when it comes to AI development. So why is it still lagging behind?

Abstract artwork promoting Meta's new Voicebox AI.

Meta’s AI ‘Voicebox’ tool is almost terrifyingly powerful – so terrifying, in fact, that Meta isn’t releasing it to the public (Image credit: Meta)

Change of direction

The clue’s in the name: remember back in 2021, when the then-ubiquitous Facebook underwent a total rebrand to become ‘Meta’? At the time, it was supposed to herald a new era of technology, led by our reptilian overlord Zuckerberg. Enter the metaverse, he said, where your wildest dreams can come true.

Two years down the line, it’s become pretty clear that his Ready Player Zuck fantasies aren’t going to materialize; at least, not for quite a while. AI, on the other hand, really is the new technology frontier – but Meta’s previous obsession with the metaverse has left it on the back foot in the AI gold rush.

Even though Meta has now shifted to AI as its prime area of investment and has maintained an AI research department for years, it’s fair to say that the Facebook owner failed to capitalize on the AI boom late last year. According to Gizmochina, employees have been urging management to shift focus back towards generative AI, which fell by the wayside in favor of the company’s metaverse push.

Meta commentary

A female-presenting person works at her desk in Meta's Horizons VR

Meta’s virtual Horizon workspace was never going to take off, let’s be honest (Image credit: Meta)

Perhaps Meta is simply spread too thin. Back in February, Zuckerberg described 2023 as the company’s “year of efficiency” – a thin cover for Meta’s mass layoffs and project closures back in November 2022, which have seen internal morale fall to an all-time low. Meta is still trying to push ahead in the VR market with products like the Meta Quest Pro, and recently announced it would be releasing a Twitter rival, supposedly called ‘Threads’.

In any case, it seems that Meta might have simply missed the boat. ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing AI are already making huge waves in the wider public sphere, along with the best AI art generators such as Midjourney.

It’s hard to see where Meta’s AI projects will fit in the current lineup; perhaps Zuckerberg should just stick to social media instead. Or maybe we'll see Meta pull another hasty name-change to become 'MetAI' or something equally ridiculous. The possibilities are endless!

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Grammarly’s ChatGPT upgrade won’t just improve your writing, it’ll do it for you

Grammarly will soon no longer just recommend ways for you to improve your writing, it’ll do the writing for you.

The writing assistant Grammarly already uses AI in several ways to help it act as a clever tool. Not only can it pick up common grammar and spelling mistakes, but it can also recommend ways to better structure your sentences, and can even tell you the tone your writing portrays (with adjectives like Formal, Confident, Accusatory, and Egocentric).

Come April, Grammarly will be taking its help a step further with the introduction of GrammarlyGo.

Built on OpenAI’s GPT-3 large language models (OpenAI is the team behind ChatGPT), GrammarlyGo will be able to perform a slew of different functions. If you have a document that’s already been written, GrammarlyGo will be able to edit it to portray a different tone or change the length to make your writing clearer or more succinct. Alternatively, if you’re experiencing a writing block its ideation tools will supposedly help unlock your creativity by creating brainstorms and outlines based on prompts you provide.

The press release announcement says it won’t stop at outlines either. GrammarlyGo will be able to compose whole documents for you, and it can even generate replies to emails based on the context of the conversation.

(Image credit: Grammarly)

We haven’t yet had a chance to try GrammarlyGo for ourselves, but we expect it’ll perform similarly to other ChatGPT alternatives we've tested. Specifically, we imagine it’ll show a lot of promise, but its compositions will almost certainly need to be proofread and tweaked by a human – especially while it’s still in beta. Even when given prompts to work with we’ve found that AI writing bots can struggle to generate content that sounds authoritative. Sure, they can produce 400 words about, say, VR headsets, but the writing is often full of chaff and sprinkled with buzzwords rather than feeling like it’s written by someone that understands the topic.

GrammarlyGo’s beta will launch in April (we don’t have an exact date yet) and will be available to all Grammarly Premium, Grammarly Business, and Grammarly for Education subscribers. It’ll also be accessible to people using the free version of Grammarly in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

It’s not just writing that OpenAI’s tech is helping to improve. Spotify has launched an AI DJ that can talk to you while mixing your favorite tracks, and Microsoft has incorporated ChatGPT into its search engine to create the impressive Bing Chat tool.

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It’ll soon be easier to track down all your lost Google Workspace docs

Tracking down that elusive Google Docs or Sheets file could soon get a lot simpler thanks to a new search upgrade.

The company has revealed it is adding a new setting to its search history tool specifically designed to find files created in its Google Workspace office software suite.

The new addition will hopefully be able to track down and display those hard-to-find files directly in your search history, removing a common headache for workers everywhere.

Google My Activity

The change is coming to the Google  – My Activity page, which contains all the details of your recent searches across both the web and Google's own apps, such as YouTube.

Going forward, search data from Workspace apps will be contained in a new setting, which will allow users to see suggestions from their own search history.

Past searches can be rerun if necessary, and will cover the likes of Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, and Currents, along with standalone services such as Google Cloud and Google Sites.

Google says it doesn't utilize any of this data for targeted advertising, and deletes all search history data after 18 months (although this can be reset to delete at 3, 18 or 36 months) and users can amend, expand or restrict the amount of data collected on them at any time.

The new setting will begin rolling out on March 29, and will be set to on by default. Users can disable it by heading to My Activity page > Other Google activity > Google Workspace search history.

The news comes shortly after Google unveiled a new look for Gmail that aims to combine several of the most popular Workspace apps in one window.

The approach looks to provide users with a one-stop shop for all their communication needs – whether via email, video conferencing, or just good old-fashioned instant messaging – without them having to open up extra tabs or windows.

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