Google silences Bard, restrings it as Gemini with optional $20-a-month upgrade

Say Gemini again, I dare you. I double dare you. Say Gemini one more goddamn time

Google on Thursday said it is bringing Gemini Ultra – its most powerful large language model yet – to the world in the form of a rebranded subscriber-only Bard.

It is clear by now that CEO Sundar Pichai is reorienting Google around its Gemini series, which debuted in December 2023. This family of neural networks can be used to summarize and analyze information, help solve problems, write code, generate images from prompts, and all the other stuff today's top-end LLMs can do.

Crucially, the Big G's general-purpose, question-answering chatbot Bard, and Duet AI tools in Google Workspace, have been renamed Gemini and Gemini Workspace, respectively, seeing as they now use the Gemini family of models internally. If you want to use Bard, sorry, Gemini with the latest Ultra 1.0 model, you will need to cough up $19.99 a month for a Google One AI Premium plan, in which case you'll be using something called Gemini Advanced.

If you don't want to pay, you can still use the standard Bard, er, Gemini with a less-powerful Gemini Pro model for free.

Google's Assistant is also being revamped with some of Gemini's abilities. Those who download the Gemini app or opt-in via Google Assistant on their Android phones will be able to summon a natural-language assistant powered by Gemini simply by uttering the usual "Hey Google" if the phone is set up to listen for audio prompts.

Users can ask these Gemini phone assistants to do things like automatically generate captions for photos, or pull up further information based on articles they've read. Other commands – for actions such as controlling smart devices, setting timers, or making calls – are handled by a pre-Gemini model.

If you're an iPhone user, Gemini will be available via the Google app. It won't be accessible using Google Assistant.

"Gemini is evolving to be more than just the models," Pichai declared. "It supports an entire ecosystem – from the products that billions of people use every day, to the APIs and platforms helping developers and businesses innovate."

We note that the Google One AI Premium plan is comparable to consumer-level subscriptions offered by other large language model developers, such as OpenAI and Anthropic.

Unlike its rivals, Google's subscription scheme offers more than just access to a powerful content-generating, fact-hallucinating chatbot. Paid-up users will get up to 2TB of storage across their Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos accounts.

Gemini will also come to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Meet productivity applications at an unspecified future date in some form. Enterprise or work accounts looking to use Gemini in those same applications can sign up for Gemini for Workspace – previously, as we said, known as Duet AI.

Meanwhile, Duet AI for Google Cloud, which uses Gemini models to power chat and coding assistance tools – as well as its AppSheet, a no-code app-building software – will also be rebranded as Gemini.

The Gemini Ultra-based Gemini Advanced is now available in over 150 countries and territories, though it only supports English for now. As we said, the free version of Bard, now also called Gemini, will continue to be available and use the Gemini Pro model, which isn't as powerful as Gemini Ultra.

In other Google AI-related news, the ad giant is going to support the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity's (C2PA) Content Credentials specification. That means we're likely to see Google and YouTube applications letting users know when C2PA metadata is detected in media that indicates it was AI generated, and adding that metadata to computer-made stuff.

As we've said before, Content Credentials can be defeated by trivially stripping this metadata from files – though steps are being taken to ensure the metadata is automatically restored from a cloud repository if it's missing from a document.

Meta and OpenAI are also adding support for C2PA's spec. ®

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