Alphabet’s Google has shaken up its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot offering, as it seeks to take the fight to rival Microsoft.

In a blog post on Thursday, Sissie Hsiao, VP and General Manager of Google Assistant and Bard, announced that Bard is now known as Gemini.

She also revealed Google is rolling out a mobile app and Gemini Advanced with Ultra 1.0 (which will require a monthly subscription).

Google had launched its Bard Chatbot back in March 2023, following a rapid development process that had triggered by the overnight success of Microsoft-backed ChatGPT in late 2022.

Bard to Gemini.
Image credit Google

Bard Becomes Gemini

But almost a year later, and Google has now decided to rebrand Bard and launch a number of additional options.

“Since we launched Bard last year, people all over the world have used it to collaborate with AI in a completely new way – to prepare for job interviews, debug code, brainstorm new business ideas or, as we announced last week, create captivating images,” wrote Google’s Hsiao.

“Our mission with Bard has always been to give you direct access to our AI models, and Gemini represents our most capable family of models,” wrote Hsiao. “To reflect this, Bard will now simply be known as Gemini.”

It should be remembered that Google had expanded its AI capabilities with the launch of the Gemini large language model (LLM) in December 2023.

Deepmind’s Gemini at the time was touted as Google’s most capable and general model yet, with state-of-the-art performance across many leading benchmarks.

Gemini 1.0 had been optimised into three different sizes, namely Gemini Ultra (the largest and most capable model for highly complex tasks); Gemini Pro (the best model for scaling across a wide range of tasks); and Gemini Nano (the most efficient model for on-device tasks).

Now Google is rebranding its Bard chatbot as Gemini.

Advanced AI access

“You can already chat with Gemini with our Pro 1.0 model in over 40 languages and more than 230 countries and territories,” wrote Hsiao on Thursday. “And now, we’re bringing you two new experiences – Gemini Advanced and a mobile app – to help you easily collaborate with the best of Google AI.”

US customers can subscribe for $19.99 a month (first two months are free) to access Gemini Advanced, which besides access to the more powerful Ultra 1.0 AI model, will also give subscribers 2 terabytes of cloud storage (that typically cost $9.99 per month).

This plan is dubbed the Google One AI Premium Plan.

Subscribers will also soon gain access to Gemini in Gmail and Google’s productivity suite.

“Today we’re launching Gemini Advanced – a new experience that gives you access to Ultra 1.0, our largest and most capable state-of-the-art AI model,” wrote Hsiao. “With our Ultra 1.0 model, Gemini Advanced is far more capable at highly complex tasks like coding, logical reasoning, following nuanced instructions and collaborating on creative projects.”

“Gemini Advanced not only allows you to have longer, more detailed conversations; it also better understands the context from your previous prompts,” wrote Hsiao.

She cited examples of Gemini Advanced being a person’s personal tutor or helping with more advanced coding examples, or helping digital creators generate fresh content.

It should be noted that back in February 2023, OpenAI had offered ChatGPT Plus to allow people to buy early access to AI models and other features.

And since early 2023 Microsoft has been integrating a free version of ChatGPT across its product line, including the Bing search engine and the Edge browser.

Last month Redmond announced a subscription for AI in programs such as Word and Excel. Both subscriptions cost $20 a month in the United States.

Mobile app

Google’s Hsiao meanwhile also revealed that the search giant wants to provide an easier way to access the Gemini AI assistant on people’s phones.

The firm is therefore starting to roll out a “new mobile experience for Gemini and Gemini Advanced with a new app on Android and in the Google app on iOS.”

“With Gemini on your phone, you can type, talk or add an image for all kinds of help while you’re on the go,” wrote Hsiao.

“You can take a picture of your flat tire and ask for instructions, generate a custom image for your dinner party invitation or ask for help writing a difficult text message. It’s an important first step in building a true AI assistant – one that is conversational, multimodal and helpful.”

She added that Apple iOS users will have to wait for “access to Gemini right from the Google app in the coming weeks.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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