News & Analysis

Google Rolls Out More AI Features

Google is going all out to get its AI-powered Gemini into as many screens as possible. As part of this effort, the company rolled out that its Android bot would get an upgrade with Gemini Pro, the company’s latest LLM model. In addition, it offered enhanced editing features including AI-powered Magic Editor to all Google Photo users for free. 

Users would recall that these editing features were available earlier only to Google’s Pixel devices and to paid subscribers. The latest expansion also includes the Magic Eraser that removes unwanted items from photos, Photo Unblur that uses machine learning to sharpen images and Portrait Light that lets users change the light source on photos. 

Gemini-powered platform for developers

Readers would recall that Google had introduced the  Android Studio bot in May last year at the I/O developer event. It was then powered by the PaLM foundation model, which is now getting upgraded to Gemini. The change would be available in 180 countries for the Android Jellyfish version. In February, the base model for Bard chatbot also moved to Gemini Pro. 

Like the Studio Bot, the new Gemini bot will straddle the integrated development environment (IDE) where developers can ask coding-related queries. According to Google, users would observe enhanced answers in code completions, debugging as well as for seeking relevant sources and documentation functions. 

As always Google points to privacy as a reason for users to login and enable Gemini and notes that its responses would be dependent on conversation history and the context provided by the user. They can access Gemini API starter template via Android Studio in order to add GenAI powered features to the apps they’re building. 

Quite obviously, this is Google’s effort to compete with existing tools such as GitHub Copilot. Last year, the company had launched the PaLM-2 based Codey assistant to answer queries around programming as well as its own Cloud Services. 

Free picture editing tools – Magnanimity or Necessity?

The company’s efforts to power its image optimization features through AI is quite obviously an effort to put one over on competitor Apple that’s gone slow on this technology and its use cases. In the past, these editing tools were the USP of Google’s high-end devices and also attracted users to their cloud subscription services like Google One. 

However, given the number of such tools flooding the market, many from the startup community eager to set up shop in the over-hyped AI and GenAI market seems to have prompted Google to give away its editing tools for free. Of course, we will have to wait till May 15 before the roll out starts and then some more time before it reaches all users.  

Before you start salivating over the possibilities, be warned that Google has prescribed some hardware requirements for use of these tools. On ChromeOS, the device should be a Chromebook Plus with ChromeOS version 118+ while on smartphones, the device must run on Android 8.0 or higher or on iOS 15 or higher.

In case some of our readers aren’t aware of these image editing tools, the Magic Editor is the smartest one that arrived on the Pixel 8 series. It uses GenAI to resolve complicated edits such as filling gaps in a picture, repositioning the subject and edits to the foreground and the background. It’s a tool that all Instagram fans must have!  

While users had to resort to Magic Eraser and other tools like Photoshop to deliver similar effects, now these get automated via AI. Once the rollout begins, all Pixel devices will come with Magic Editor while iOS and Android users (with the right devices) can use up to 10 saves per month. Beyond this, you need a Premium Google One plan.