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October 5, 2023
Google Assistant with Bard is a generative AI powered version of Google’s voice activated personal assistant software, announced alongside its new slate of Pixel phones.
‘A more intuitive, intelligent, personalized digital assistant’ is what’s being promised by infusing Google Assistant’s voice help functions with generative and reasoning capabilities from its Bard generative AI platform.
Assistant with Bard can be interacted with through text, voice or images, as opposed to just voice like the vanilla version. We’re told it understands and adapts to the user and can lend a hand with personal tasks like such as planning a trip, finding something in your inbox, creating a shopping list or sending a text ‘in new ways’.
By way of example of how one might use such functions, a post on the Google blog reads: “On Android devices, we’re working to build a more contextually helpful experience right on your phone. For example, say you just took a photo of your cute puppy you’d like to post to social media. Simply float the Assistant with Bard overlay on top of your photo and ask it to write a social post for you. Assistant with Bard will use the image as a visual cue, understand the context and help with what you need. This conversational overlay is a completely new way to interact with your phone. And just like both Bard and Assistant, it’ll be built with your privacy in mind — ensuring that you can choose your individual privacy settings.”
Google Assistant with Bard is being rolled out to some testers soon, and will be available to the public on both Android and iOS mobile devices over the next few months.
Meanwhile Google also dropped two new phones to its Pixel line of phones which are ‘built with AI at the centre.’
Notable features include a new temperature sensor on the back of the Pixel 8 Pro, which can be used to check if a pan is hot enough to start cooking and things like that, and Google has also submitted an application to the FDA to enable the Pixel’s Thermometer App to take your temperature and save it to Fitbit. Whether this is to add another metric by which to judge the success of a jog, or if they have something like a covid detector in mind remains to be seen.
The phones also have some incremental camera updates, and a software function which blends different bits of multiple photos to cover up the fact someone had their eyes closed or wasn’t looking at the camera (heaven forbid). There are also some more AI infused image editing tools, and a computational audio capability based on machine learning models which can get rid of the sound of wind on videos you’ve taken.
It’s hard to judge how much the new version of Google Assistant adds on top of the existing assistant software without using it, but with the impressive amount of progress generative AI has made in recent years, this would seem to be a good fit for providing something novel. And if that can become some sort of differentiator for its Android platform then may serve as some benefit to come out of the zillions Google is ploughing into AI development.
Science fiction is replete with future world’s where people communicate with personal, hyper realistic AIs that can sort their lives out for them, help them out of jams, or even have a romantic relationship. While we may be a little way off the type of sophistication postulated upon in films like Her, a really intuitive voice activated personal assistant that can plumb the depths of the web and personal data to give bespoke information and perform admin actions could be a genuinely useful outcrop of the generative AI phenomenon.
It certainly seems like a more interesting use of the technology and the enormous amounts of money being thrown at it than fabricating the perfect selfie.
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