Google just wrapped up its Made by Google hardware event this morning, and while a lot of things we got were certainly known and revealed ahead of time, a few features and updates were a complete surprise. For example, being able to use Generative AI to zoom in and essentially rebuild pixels for a clearer image is ripped straight out of spy thriller and sci-fi movies.
Additionally, I’ve been speaking for months about the fact that Google would absolutely take the innovations it’s worked on with its Bard AI chatbot and inject them into Google Assistant, effectively replacing the heart and soul of the defunct helper.
Introducing ‘Assistant with Bard’
As it turns out, I totally called it, and today, “Assistant with Bard” was revealed. Because Assistant has become dumber than a box of rocks in recent times, it’s now going to be testing an early version of Bard taking the wheel and helping with tasks. That’s right, your Assistant is getting an AI overhaul, just as I predicted!
In order to become a more intuitive, intelligent and personalized digital assistant, the two will work together (Pixel 8 users and early testers will get access first in the next few months, and Google did not reveal when it would roll out on a wider basis). If you’re at all familiar with the incredible powers of AI like Bard, where you can ask it complex questions and have it respond with a great level of reasoning instead of essentially returning voice search results (or in the case of the Nest Hub this year, refusing to help and pulling up a web page directly).
Today at Made by Google, we introduced Assistant with Bard, a personal assistant powered by generative AI. It combines Bard’s generative and reasoning capabilities with Assistant’s personalized help. You can interact with it through text, voice or images — and it can even help take actions for you. In the coming months, you’ll be able to access it on Android and iOS mobile devices.The Keyword
Google Assistant can see, hear and speak
Let’s say, for example, you want to ask Assistant with Bard to summarize the emails you received this week. It can do that. You can even ask it to tell you things about specific emails, like where the party you were invited to is taking place, and how long it will take to drive there. To be honest, this is such a paltry example, because Assistant with Bard is truly set up to help Google take its dominant position in the marketplace for artificial intelligence. The possibilities are truly limitless. It’s hard to even quantify this or give concrete examples, because anything you ask me if you can do with this, I’ll likely say yes and then some.
Want to know what kind of food that restaurant in the email invite has? Just ask. Want to know how many calories are in a certain dish? Just ask. Actually, with the announcement last week from OpenAI about its ChatGPT bot being able to hear, see and speak, Google mirrored that today in its reveal of Assistant with Bard. Assistant will soon be able to hear, see and well, it could already speak. Want to know what kind of puppy is in front of you, or which path to take on a trail? Just snap a photo and ask.
Want to know how many calories are in an entire plate of food with diverse offerings? Just take a photo and Assistant with Bard will literally sum it all up. It’s just nuts, seriously. You can already do a lot of this with Bard directly, but the benefit here is that with Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, you’ll have all of this on-device, in your pocket, built directly into Assistant.
What I think is going to happen, and I keep reiterating this since I believe it so strongly, is that the company will replace the guts of Assistant with Bard AI and still call it ‘Assistant’ since that’s a household name (for better or worse now!).Me, back in June
If this happens, we could be looking at a new era of virtual assistants that don’t suck, because let’s face it, Google’s version was supposed to be the future, but now it just looks like it’s struggling to keep up or perform even the most basic of tasks.
The future is here, and it shouldn’t suck anymore
With all of the pain we’ve endured with Google Assistant over the past two years, and with the company pulling resources and teams from working on it, we knew that Bard would take center stage. Quite honestly, this changes everything, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for this to replace the current iteration of Assistant. As I stated in the past, Google would inject Bard and keep the Assistant nomenclature since it’s a household name. Add to that the fact that Bard just got access to extensions, including Google apps and services to help process your own data and help you better understand it, and you can see where I’m going with this.
A more intelligent, actually useful Assistant will radically transform how we interact not only with our phones, but our smart homes too. Add to that the ability to point and shoot a camera lens at the world around you to understand it better without having to be flowery with your words and teach the Assistant what you’re looking at, and you’re finally bridging the great divide between humans and machines – a divide that has existed since their inception, and that’s both beautiful and terrifying.