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Google I/O Wrap-Up: Gemini AI Enhancements, New Search Features, And More


Google I/O Highlights: AI Innovations and Future Directions

On Tuesday, Google held its annual I/O developer conference, unveiling a suite of artificial intelligence products, from new search and chat features to AI hardware for cloud customers. These announcements underscore Google’s strategic focus on AI as it competes with rivals like OpenAI.

While many of the newly introduced features and tools are still in the testing phase or limited to developers, they provide a glimpse into Google’s AI strategy and investment areas. Google monetizes its AI technologies by charging developers for using its models and customers for its Gemini Advanced service, a ChatGPT competitor priced at $19.99 per month, which assists in summarizing PDFs, Google Docs, and more.

These updates come on the heels of similar moves by AI competitors. Earlier this month, Amazon-backed Anthropic introduced its first enterprise offering and a free iPhone app. Meanwhile, OpenAI launched a new AI model and a desktop version of ChatGPT, complete with a revamped user interface.

Gemini AI Updates

Google introduced enhancements to Gemini 1.5 Pro, its AI model that will soon manage more data, such as summarizing 1,500 pages of text. Additionally, the new Gemini 1.5 Flash AI model is more cost-effective and tailored for smaller tasks like summarizing conversations, captioning media, and extracting data from large documents.

CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted improvements in Gemini’s translation capabilities, noting its availability to developers in 35 languages. Within Gmail, Gemini 1.5 Pro can analyze PDFs and videos, providing summaries and more. This functionality extends to helping users quickly get up to speed with lengthy email threads, including attachments.

Gemini updates also enhance Gmail searches. For instance, if you’re comparing quotes from different contractors, Gemini can summarize the offers and their start dates from various email threads. Eventually, Gemini will replace Google Assistant on Android phones, positioning it as a stronger competitor to Apple’s Siri.

Google Veo, Imagen 3, and Audio Overviews

Google unveiled “Veo,” a new model for high-definition video generation, and “Imagen 3,” its highest-quality text-to-image model, offering lifelike images with fewer visual artifacts. These tools will be available to select creators soon and will be integrated into Vertex AI, Google’s machine-learning platform for developers.

The company also introduced “Audio Overviews,” which generates audio summaries based on text input. For example, a user can upload a lesson plan, and the chatbot will verbally summarize it. Additionally, Google showcased “AI Sandbox,” featuring generative AI tools for creating music and sounds from scratch based on user prompts.

Despite these advances, generative AI tools still face accuracy challenges. Google’s search chief Prabhakar Raghavan emphasized that while competitors may offer new gadgets, users trust Google for verification. Earlier this year, Google retracted its Gemini-powered image generator due to historical inaccuracies, planning to relaunch it soon.

New Search Features

Starting Monday in the U.S., Google is launching “AI Overviews” in Search, providing quick summaries for complex queries. For example, searching for the best way to clean leather boots will yield an AI-generated summary of cleaning steps.

Google also plans to introduce assistant-like planning capabilities within search. Users will be able to request meal plans or other detailed tasks, with the AI pulling information from across the web. Additionally, Google will test multimodal queries, allowing users to ask questions through videos, such as diagnosing a problem with a filmed product.

Another feature in testing is “AI Teammate,” which integrates into Google Workspace, creating searchable collections from emails and documents. For instance, a user could ask the AI if a project is ready for launch, and it would provide a summary based on available data.

Project Astra

Project Astra, developed by Google’s DeepMind AI unit, aims to be an advanced AI assistant akin to Marvel’s J.A.R.V.I.S. In a demo, Astra helped locate misplaced items, review code, and answer questions about objects shown in videos, all in real-time without lag. CEO Demis Hassabis highlighted the engineering challenge of achieving conversational response times, with a launch expected in Gemini later this year.

AI Hardware

Google announced Trillium, its sixth-generation tensor processing unit (TPU), set to be available to cloud customers in late 2024. While not designed to compete directly with Nvidia’s GPUs, Google Cloud will offer Nvidia’s Blackwell GPUs in early 2025, continuing their long-standing partnership to support large-scale AI model development for enterprise clients.

CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the enduring collaboration with Nvidia, anticipating continued partnership well into the future.

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