Google is known for having a million similar products with confusingly different names that seem to have nothing in common. (Can I interest you in a messaging app?) But when it comes to the work of AI, there’s only one name that matters: Gemini.
Google Gemini AI now has a new app and works across Google products
The company announced Thursday that it has rebranded its Bard chatbot to Gemini, launched a dedicated Gemini app for Android, and even integrated all of Google Workspace’s Duet AI features into the Gemini branding. It also announced that Gemini Ultra 1.0 — the larger, more capable version of Google’s large language model — will be released to the public.
Gemini’s mobile apps are probably where most people encounter the new gadget. If you download the new app on Android, it can set Gemini as your default assistant, meaning it replaces Google Assistant as the thing that responds when you say “Hey Google” or long-press the home button. So far, it doesn’t look like Google is ditching Assistant entirely, but the company has been de-prioritizing Assistant for a while, and clearly believes Gemini is the future. “I think it’s a very important first step toward building a true AI assistant,” says Sisi Hsiao, who runs Bard (now Gemini) at Google. “It’s conversational, it’s multimedia, and it’s more useful than ever.”
There’s no dedicated Gemini app for iOS, and you can’t set a non-Siri assistant as your default anyway, but you’ll have access to all the AI features in the Google app. To give you an idea of how important Gemini is to Google: There will be a toggle switch at the top of the app that lets you switch from search to Gemini. For as long as Google has been around, search has been the most important product of all; She’s starting to suggest that Gemini might be just as important. (For now, by the way, the AI in Google Search is still called “generative search experience,” but it’s probably safe to bet that it will eventually be Gemini, too.)
Other changes in Gemini are mostly just a sign. Google is ditching the Bard name, but otherwise its chatbot will feel the way it did before; The same goes for all the AI features within Google Workspace apps like Gmail and Docs, which were previously called “Duet AI” but are now also known as Gemini. These are features that help you craft an email, organize a spreadsheet, and accomplish other work-related tasks.
Most users will still use the standard version of the Gemini model, known as Gemini Pro. In order to use Gemini Ultra, the most powerful version of the model, you’ll have to sign up for a Gemini Advanced subscription, which is part of Google’s new $20-per-month One AI Premium plan. (Those names aren’t helpful, Google!) The subscription also comes with 2TB of Google Drive storage and all the other features of a Google One subscription, so Google is positioning it as just a $10 monthly increment for those users. For everyone else, it’s the same price as ChatGPT Plus and other products – $20 per month seems like the going rate for a high-end AI bot.
The Ultra model can have more context and hold longer conversations
For $20 a month, Hsiao says Gemini Ultra “sets the state of the art across a wide range of standards across text, images, audio and video.” The Ultra model can contain more context and hold longer conversations, and is designed to be better at complex matters like programming and logical thinking.
It’s no surprise that Google is so interested in Gemini, but it does raise the stakes for the company’s ability to compete with OpenAI, Anthropic, Perplexity, and the growing array of other strong AI competitors in the market. In our tests just after Gemini’s launch last year, the Gemini-powered Bard performed very well, almost on par with GPT-4, but was noticeably slower. Google now needs to prove it can keep up with the industry, as it looks to build a compelling consumer product and tries to convince developers to build on Gemini and not with OpenAI.
Only a few times in Google’s history has it seemed like the entire company was betting on one thing. Once upon a time, that turned into Google Plus… and we know how that went. But this time, Google seems to be fully committed to being an AI company. This means that Gemini might be as big as Google.