If you asked a hundred people what Google’s generative AI product is called, 98 of them likely wouldn’t know, unless they’re in San Jose. It’s “Bard,” for the record, unconsciously associating generative AI with British playwrights and D&D players who failed their sexual harassment prevention training. Or at least it was. Now it’s called “Google Gemini,” after a brief period of rebranding, and debuting in Google’s workplace products.
Gemini is an umbrella term for Google’s generative AI (a separate app on Android, embedded within the Google search app on iOS) and its integration into existing services like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Meet, where it was sometimes referred to as “Duet” before. Some advanced capabilities, like being a “personal tutor” or assistive writing in “more advanced coding scenarios,” will be behind a Gemini Advanced paywall. That’ll run you a hefty $19.99 a month on top of a Google One plan. It seems extremely expensive in terms of pure utility — $20 a month gets you 2TB of cloud storage space, for example — but it’s in line with premium versions of ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot AI tools.
Despite Google’s insistence that it’s been working on AI for years, it’s hard to see this rebrand as anything but a move to try and get some relevance with a relatively cheap coat of paint. OpenAI and Microsoft are pushing hard with their partnership, and that seems to be benefitting the latter almost on the strength of ChatGPT’s mindspace alone. It surely doesn’t hurt that Microsoft has an easy way to market Copilot, whether its users want it or not, right on their desktop. Despite using Google tools multiple times every day for my work and personal life, and running Android for the better part of fifteen years, I’ve yet to find a reason to engage with Bard or Duet.
As someone who’s worked with Android for a long time both personally and professionally, I also hasten to point out that Google has some commitment issues. The company is infamous for dropping apps and services even if they’re popular with end users, implementing redesigns on a whim, and rebrands that seem baffling at best and downright detrimental at worst. Google Podcasts, something I’ve personally and publically praised, is the latest service that’s being jammed under the YouTube door crack for some reason. If Google finds that it has a hard time getting users interested in its newest exciting software product, it has only itself to blame.