Google on Tuesday enabled its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Bard, to scan user data from its popular applications (apps) like Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Docs, and Drive — based on user consent — for more personalised use cases. While still at the experimental level, this marks the biggest move yet in combining generative AI capabilities with the consumer services of the search giant.
The new features allow users to utilise Bard as a one-stop solution for tasks such as double-checking responses and summarising emails. Additionally, it can retrieve relevant information from various apps, including Maps, YouTube, Drive, Docs, as well as Travel with Google (Flights, Hotels).
Google initially announced these features at its annual developer conference in May. However, it took the company around four months to roll out the update, ensuring a safe and trustworthy experience. Bard currently responds in more than 40 languages and serves users in over 230 countries and territories. Nevertheless, the new extension will only be available in English initially.
Yury Pinsky, director of product management at Bard, stated in a blog post, “We’re rolling out Bard’s most capable model yet. Bard now integrates with Google apps and services for more helpful responses. We have also improved the ‘Google it’ feature in Bard to double-check Bard’s answers and expanded access to more places.”
Launched in March this year, Bard, Google’s conversational AI tool, was viewed as a move to compete with the popular tool ChatGPT by Microsoft-backed OpenAI. Data from Similarweb, a data analysis firm, shows that nearly 200 million users have visited Bard, although it still lags far behind ChatGPT in terms of usage.
In May, Microsoft introduced its early access program for the Microsoft365 co-pilot tool, integrating OpenAI’s image generator tool, DALL-E, into PowerPoint to create custom images to support their content, among other features. This program remains in the invitation-only paid preview version.
Google Bard’s new feature will also enable shared conversations. Users can create a public link to share Bard’s chat and allow others to continue the conversation and ask Bard additional questions on that topic or use it as a starting point for their ideas.
Some interesting use cases for the extensions shared by Google include organising a group trip. Users can enquire about available dates that work for everyone, based on data from their apps, and also access real-time flight and hotel information. It can also provide directions to the airport using Google Maps and offer informative YouTube videos on the same subject.
Google emphasises that the entire process will continue to prioritise user privacy. Pinsky added in his blog, “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.”
All of these new features will work with the latest version of Google’s foundational AI model, PaLM 2. The company stated that it has been enhancing the system based on user feedback and implementing new learning techniques to make it more intuitive and imaginative.
– ‘Google it’ button to be improved for easier verification of Bard’s responses
– Initially, the new extension to be available only in the English language