At Google's I/O event on Wednesday, the company announced that it was to scrap waitlists to use Bard, its AI-powered chatbot.
The move comes just a week after Microsoft announced that it was to remove waitlists for its Bing AI platform, and is a sure fire sign of the fierce competition between the two tech giants.
In addition to the removal of the waitlist, it was also announced that Bard would be available in more countries than the initial US and UK , and would be packed with new features.
Google Scraps Waitlist for Bard
If you've been desperately waiting to use Google's Bard, then good news – the company has done away with the waitlist, and it's now available for everyone to use right now (mostly, there are still a few small caveats). Microsoft made a similar announcement last week when it ditched waitlists for Bing AI.
Announced at Google's I/O event, where AI was very much the running theme of the occasion, the company revealed that Bard was to be rolled out to 180 countries and regions, after initially launching two months ago in the US and UK. It will also support Japanese and Korean language, with 40 more expected soon.
To use Bard today, you'll need to be in one of the applicable countries, and have a Google account.
It's been a rocky start for Bard, with a couple of high profile stumbles going so far as wiping around $100 billion from the value of the company. Nobody is more aware of the potential for falure than Google, but in the current AI arms race, no company wants to get left behind, especially when the tech is expected to revolutionize the way we search the internet. Google has now moved the platform to PaLM 2, describing it as a ‘far more capable language model', which it surely hopes will address those initial teething problems.
New Bard AI Features Announced by Google
As well as announcing that waitlists were being removed from Bard, Google also revealed a host of new features at the I/O event.
Bard is to integrate Google Lens into the platform, allowing users to use photos with AI. Use cases could be asking Bard to generate descriptions or captions for photos a user has taken. In Google's own example, it shows some possible ways to tag a photo of some pets:
In addition, Bard's responses should now be a lot more visual. Ask it what the must see sights are in New Orleans for example, and it will show photos of local landmarks and places of interest, as well as text descriptions.
Fact: The phrase AI was mentioned 110 times during Google's two hour event.
Google also announced that it had taken feedback onboard from developers, and would be making some key changes to the platform. This include:
- Sourcing citations – As of next week, Bard will give clearer citations for sources, allowing users to click on the relevant passage to see the initial source.
- Dark theme – Self explanatory, but those that prefer a darker screen that's easier on the eyes, are now being catered to.
- Export button – A much requested feature from developers, Bard will let users export and run code, starting with Python. It will also be possible to export to Gmail and Google Docs.
These weren't the only AI announcements from the I/O event – in fact, if you were keeping track of the times ‘AI' got mentioned, you probably would have lost count early on (spoiler, it was 244). However, with Google betting big on Bard, it's hard to argue that improvements to the platform aren't significant, especially considering the number of competitors snapping at Google heels in the AI space.