Not even Chromebooks can escape AI PC craze: Google to inject Plus laptops with LLM juice

New models will come with a year of Gemini Advanced, too

Not to be outdone by the shiny new AI PCs Microsoft showed off last week at its Build conference, Google on Tuesday said various generative AI features will be rolling out to Chromebook Plus laptops over the next few weeks.

Those features include text and image generation services, including Google's "Help me write" assistant, built right into the notebooks' Chrome-based desktop OS. As the name suggests, the Clippy-esque "Help me write" pops up to suggest how users might finish a sentence, and can also be used to rewrite existing text to match a desired tone or address a specific audience.

In addition to these text-generation capabilities, the Chocolate Factory will introduce generative AI desktop wallpapers and backgrounds for video calls, while Google Photos gains some machine learning-enhanced editing in the form of Magic Editor. According to Google, this Magic Editor allows users to automatically select, resize, and reposition subjects within a frame, and it apparently works with still images and videos.

As we understand it, these generative AI features are coming to supported Chromebook Plus machines via automatic updates starting next month.

The Chromebook Plus family launched in October, and at the time Google did warn that it will be adding generative AI functionality. Though these laptops sport neural network acceleration hardware in one form or another, we do wonder how much of this ML stuff happens on device and in the cloud; we've asked Google for clarification. When Microsoft showed off its Windows AI PCs last week, the IT titan focused on the local processing of data by its models.

Today it was also announced that a few more laptops are being added to the Chromebook Plus line, such as the Acer Chromebook Plus Spin 714, which uses an Intel Core Ultra processor with built-in AI acceleration. In all, we're told there are four new Chromebook Plus and two budget Chromebooks coming from HP, Acer, and Asus.

For those picking up a new Plus machine, these computers will ship with 12 months of Google One AI Premium for free, which includes full access to Gemini Advanced, including integrations with Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Gmail, as well as 2TB of cloud storage.

Announced earlier this year as part of the rebranding of Bard, Google's One AI Premium subscription normally costs $19.99 a month.

As part of that plan, you get access to Google's question-answering generative assistant Gemini Advanced, which is supposed to take into account more context from previous prompts in order to provide more comprehensive answers. Presumably, the Chrome goliath thinks that, given a year to integrate Gemini Advanced into their workflows, users will be hooked and continue paying for the service after the trial expires.

As for all users of supported Chromebooks, Google is also rolling out a number of quality-of-life changes to ChromeOS. These include the ability to use QR codes and a supported Android device to provision Chromebooks; easier access to Google Tasks; a game dashboard; and the ability to turn screen recordings directly into GIFs.

Unsurprisingly, Google plans to continue rolling out AI and non-AI features to Chromebook Plus and regular Chromebook laptops with each software update. Upcoming features, it's said, include a summarization capability, which uses Google's Gemini model to condense websites or PDFs to their core concepts. The search giant also promised to add tools to better manage open windows and tabs, a feature to more easily focus on "must finish" tasks, and the ability to seamlessly resume reading a web page in ChromeOS that you were looking at on an Android or iOS device.

A future update will even allow users to control their kit using face and gesture tracking, which builds on its work with Project Gameface. ®

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