Bard is Google’s generative AI-powered chatbot, built as a competitor against Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT. Google is now rolling out image generation and an enhanced AI model to more Bard users.
Back in December, Google started updating the Bard chatbot to use the company’s new “Gemini” AI model, which the company says is more accurate and helpful in its responses. Modified versions of the Gemini model also now power on-device AI features in the Google Pixel 8 series and Samsung Galaxy S24 series. The Gemini AI in Bard was limited to English language useries, but that’s now expanding to “over 40 languages and more than 230 countries and territories.” The full list is on Google’s support site.
Google is still touting the Gemini Pro language model in Bard as the best chatbot around. The company said in its blog post, “blind evaluations with our third-party raters identified Bard with Gemini Pro as one of the top-performing conversational AIs, compared to leading free and paid alternatives.” ChatGPT has a Plus option with the GPT-4 language model and plugin functionality, and Microsoft recently released Copilot Pro as an option for most personal and business accounts, both of which are priced at $20 per month. Bard still doesn’t have the most powerful Gemini Ultra model, though.
Image generation is also rolling out “in most countries around the world,” powered by Google’s updated Imagegen 2 model. You can ask Bard something like “Create an image of a dog riding a surfboard,” or you can use the ImageFX web app, which can create images from a prompt and easily modify the prompt afterwards to fine-tune the result. Images created with Imagegen 2 also have invisible watermarks to help automated tools identify them as AI.
Google said in a blog post, “Imagen 2 is powered by Google DeepMind’s latest text-to-image advancements via a diffusion-based model. This update delivers our highest-quality images yet, as well as improvements in areas that text-to-image systems often struggle with, such as rendering realistic hands and human faces and keeping images free of distracting visual artifacts.”
It’s interesting to see Google pushing ahead with better AI tools without locking some improvements behind a subscription, like Microsoft and OpenAI have done. Third-party apps and services still have to pay to access the APIs, but Bard and its AI image generation are completely free to use through the websites—for now, anyway.