Alphabet’s Google has announced a major expansion of its AI chatbot Bard, by deploying it across its entire product suite.

In a blog post, Yury Pinsky, director of product management, Bard, confirmed that the AI chatbot can now connect to a person’s Google apps and services.

Google had initially announced Bard back in February, but a product demonstration showed the chatbot giving incorrect information – a mistake caused the search firm’s shares to nosedive at the time.

Image credit: Google

Bard expansion

A month later in March Google launched limited public access to Bard, with the search giant is taking a markedly different approach to that of start-up ChatGPT’s OpenAI, with the keynote being “caution”.

But now Google is connecting Bard to its full suite tools including Google Docs, Google Flights, Gmail and YouTube.

“Today we’re rolling out Bard’s most capable model yet,” wrote Google’s Pinsky. “Bard now integrates with Google apps and services for more helpful responses. We’ve also improved the ‘Google it’ feature to double-check Bard’s answers and expanded features to more places.”

Google has also launched Bard Extensions in English, which it claims is a completely new way to interact and collaborate with Bard.

With Extensions, Bard can find and show relevant information from the Google tools that people use every day – such as Gmail, Docs, Drive, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Flights and hotels – even when the information you need is across multiple apps and services.

Google cited the example of a user planning a trip to the Grand Canyon (a project that takes up many tabs). The user can now ask Bard to grab the dates that work for everyone from Gmail, look up real-time flight and hotel information, see Google Maps directions to the airport, and even watch YouTube videos of things to do there – all within one conversation.

Another example is if the user is applying for a new job and using Bard to help with the process. A person could ask Bard to “find my resume titled June 2023 from my Drive and summarise it to a short paragraph personal statement,” and continue collaborating on your new cover letter.

Data security

“We’re committed to protecting your personal information,” Google’s Pinsky aded. “If you choose to use the Workspace extensions, your content from Gmail, Docs and Drive is not seen by human reviewers, used by Bard to show you ads, or used to train the Bard model. And of course, you’re always in control of your privacy settings when deciding how you want to use these extensions, and you can turn them off at any time.”

And now users can utilise Bard’s “Google it” button to more easily double-check its answers. When a person clicks on the “G” icon, Bard will read the response and evaluate whether there is content across the web to substantiate it.

When a statement can be evaluated, a person can click the highlighted phrases and learn more about supporting or contradicting information found by Search.

Google’s Pinsky also said that the firm is also making it easier to build on others’ conversations with Bard.

“Starting today, when someone shares a Bard chat with you through a public link, you can continue the conversation and ask Bard additional questions about that topic, or use it as a starting point for your own ideas,” wrote Google’s Pinsky.

He added that as Google continues to build Bard responsibly, it is now expanding access to existing English language features – such as the ability to upload images with Lens, get Search images in responses, and modify Bard’s responses – to more than 40 languages.

“All of these new features are possible because of updates we’ve made to our PaLM 2 model, our most capable yet,” wrote Google’s Pinsky. “Based on your feedback, we’ve applied state-of-the-art reinforcement learning techniques to train the model to be more intuitive and imaginative. So, whether you want to collaborate on something creative, start in one language and continue in one of 40+ others, or ask for in-depth coding assistance, Bard can now respond with even greater quality and accuracy.”

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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