Google is adding a smorgasbord of new features to its AI chatbot Bard, including support for new languages (Japanese and Korean), easier ways to export text to Google Docs and Gmail, visual search, and a dark mode. Most significantly, the company is removing the waitlist for Bard and making the system available in English in 180 countries and territories. It’s also promising future features like AI image generation powered by Adobe and integration with third-party web services like Instacart and OpenTable.
Collectively, the news is a shot in the arm for Bard, which was released two months ago for select users in the US and UK. The chatbot — which Google still stresses is an experiment and not a replacement to its search engine — has compared poorly to rivals like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s new Bing chatbot. Notably, Bard made a factual error in its first-ever public demo (though this problem is common to all such bots). Now, Google is adding a lot of new features as well as upgrading Bard to use its new PaLM 2 language model. This should improve its general answers and usability.
The visual results will appear in Bard the same way they might in some Google queries. The company gives the example of asking “what are some must-see sights in New Orleans?” with the system generating a list of relevant locations — the French Quarter, the Audubon Zoo, etc. — illustrated by the sort of pictures you’d get in a typical Google image search.
Bard will soon be able to interface with the web, just like ChatGPT
Google says it will also soon be integrating Firefly, Adobe’s AI image generator, into Bard. This is notable because Adobe has marketed Firefly on the “ethical” nature of its training data (a criticism that has led to lawsuits launched at other AI image tools). This will also be the first of many third-party integrations for Bard (which Google is calling “tools”) with Google promising the system will soon connect directly to apps “from Google and amazing services across the web.”
It’s a sizable addition, but it’s notable that Google is just keeping feature parity with its rivals. Microsoft added AI image generation powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E system to Bing in March, while both OpenAI and Microsoft have been exploring how to integrate chatbots with the wider web. OpenAI first announced this feature for ChatGPT earlier this year, with example use cases of using the bot to book a restaurant through OpenTable or order a grocery delivery through Instacart. Google says it’s working with exactly these same services.