Google’s AI-powered NotebookLM is now available to help organize your life

Google’s AI-powered writing assistant, NotebookLM, is leaving its experimental phase behind and launching as an official service with multiple performance upgrades.

First revealed during I/O 2023 as Project Tailwind, the tool’s primary purpose is to help organize your messy notes by creating a summary detailing what you wrote down. It will even highlight important topics plus come up with several questions to help people gain a better understanding of the material. The big update coinciding with the release is that NotebookLM will now run on Gemini Pro, which the tech giant states is their “best [AI] model” for handling a wide variety of tasks. It claims the AI model will enhance the service’s reasoning skills as well as improve its ability to understand the documents it scans.

What’s more, Google took the feedback from NotebookLM’s five-month testing period and has added 15 new features aiming to improve the user experience. 

Highlight features

The company highlights five specific features in its announcement with the first one being a “new noteboard space”. In this area, you’ll be able to take quotes from the AI chat or excerpts from your notes and pin them at the top for easier viewing. Next, citations in a response will take you directly to the source, “letting you see [a] quote in its original context.”

Highlighting text in said source will now suggest two separate actions. You can have the AI instantly “summarize the text” into a separate note or ask it to define words or phrases, which can be helpful if the topic is full of tough concepts. Down at the bottom, users will see a wider array of follow-up actions from suggestions on how to improve your prose to related ideas that you can add to your writing. NotebookLM will also recommend specific formats for your content that’ll shape it into an email layout or the outline of a script among other things.

NotebookLM sample

(Image credit: Future)

The full list can be found on Google's Help website. Other notable features include an increased word count for sources (they can now be 200,000 words total), the ability to share notebooks with others much like Google Docs, and support for PDFs.

Coming soon

There are more updates on the way. Starting on the week of December 11, NotebookLM will gain an additional seven features. They include a Critique function where you can ask the AI for constructive feedback plus a way to combine all your notes into one big page.

NotebookLM is available in the United States only to users ages 18 and up on desktop and mobile devices. When you visit, you’ll see some examples to help you get started with the service. It’s worth mentioning that despite this being an official launch, Google still regards NotebookLM as “experimental” technology, so it won’t be perfect. No word on if there are plans for an international release although we did ask. This story will be updated at a later time. 

While we have you check out Techradar's roundup of the best AI writers for 2023.

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Google’s new AI tool can help organize your messy Google Docs files

Google is launching yet another large language model (LLM) with the purpose of helping people organize their messy Google Docs accounts.

Say you’re a college student who typed in a series of notes into a Google Docs file for class, but you didn’t put a lot of thought into the page’s structure. It’s all one big mess of randomly organized ideas. Now, you can ask the new NotebookLM tool to generate a short summary to read so you have a better idea of what you wrote. The original file will still be there for reference. It’s not going anywhere. The generative AI will even throw in some “key topics and questions” based on the summarized information to help users gain “a better understanding of the material.” What’s more, you are not limited to a single document. Notebook LM is able to pull from multiple sources for its content.

Directing the AI

Like Bard, Google’s other generative AI, you can ask NotebookLM questions to better direct its response if you want to know something in particular. In an example given, a student can upload an “article about neuroscience” and then tell the AI to construct a list of “key terms related to dopamine” from that particular piece.

NotebookLM isn’t only for summarizing your school notes. It can, according to Google, generate ideas, too. Google states a content creator can give the LLM their idea for a new video and then instruct it to write up a rough draft for a script or help a businessperson come up with questions to ask at an investors’ meeting.

As helpful as it may sound, there is one major problem. Believe it or not, NotebookLM can still hallucinate. Even though the main source is your own personal Google Docs account, there's still the possibility it could create false information. The company recommends double-checking the generated responses “against your original source material” just to be safe. If the AI is grabbing from multiple sources, Google states each response will have citations so you’ll know exactly where everything is coming from. 

Future release

NotebookLM is currently seeing a limited release as it is still experimental technology. If you want to try it out yourself, head on over to the Google Labs website and sign up for the waitlist. Once a spot opens up, Google will shoot over an email letting you know. The company is asking the lucky few who gain access to please provide feedback so it can improve the AI.

NotebookLM actually made its world debut during Google I/O 2023 when it was originally known as Project Tailwind. The event saw the tech giant tease a lot of upcoming devices and software; most of which have been released with a few stragglers remaining. Universal Translator, for example, is still missing in action. If you don’t recall, it’s an “AI video dubbing service” that has the ability to translate speech in real-time. There also isn’t a lot of information out there regarding the Sidekick panel, a Google Docs feature that can create text prompts while writing.

We asked Google if it could provide any insight on the missing I/O 2023 tech plus when it will release the final version of NotebookLM. This story will be updated at a later time.

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