Google IO

Google I/O 2023 Will Highlight Generative AI and Ignore Google Assistant

Google I/O this year promises a lot of focus on generative AI as the technology and its uses continue to explode. A new large language model (LLM) and other features seem to be on the docket, even as AI projects like Google Assistant fade into the background. Here’s what we are expecting to see at Google I/O starting at 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

Generative AI Google

Google is expected to unveil the new PaLM 2 LLM, an updated and advanced version of the current PaLM, more flexible and useful for both creative writing and software programming and is able to converse in more than 100 languages, according to some leaked documents. This is just a few months after launching an API for the current PaLM. The API gives developers access to the relevant models, as well as the option to adjust and customize the models with their own data to meet their needs.

Generative AI will also be at the heart of an updated search experience, which may integrate the Google Bard AI that the tech giant has been racing to launch in the last few months. The experiments in embedding generative AI in Google’s suite of productivity products like Gmail and Docs may also see some new additions, such as an image generator for Slides and Meet and spreadsheet template creation in Sheets.

Despite being a developer’s event, Google is also planning a lot of hardware at I/O this year, including the new Pixel 7a smartphone, Pixel Tablet, and the first bendable Pixel device, the Pixel Fold. The Android 12 operating system will likely get a preview ahead of a wider release this summer too. Pixel smartphones and tablets may also play early host to the Bard generative AI chatbot as a widget on the home screen before expanding to other Android devices.

Google Assistant?

What’s notable in its absence from the list of discussion topics at Google I/O this year is much about Google Assistant. There are just three subjects listed as connected to the voice assistant, Android in cars, Wear OS, and adjusting apps to different screen sizes. Those are tangential at best. In comparison, last year may have had only four Google Assistant-tagged events, but three were explicitly about the voice assistant. And Google I/O 2021 was a Google Assistant bonanza. The event showcased a whopping 13 discussion topics linked to Google Assistant in some form, including a few features since sunsetted by the company.

The team behind Google Assistant has reportedly been reassigned to Bard, but it’s still an amazing drop in prominence. That’s especially true with the rise in chatbots and conversational versions of generative AI, which would seem ideal for voice interfaces. There are a few voice-controlled generative AI chatbots at the moment, including SoundHound and Siri’s new control of the Wordtune iOS app. Google Assistant and Bard theoretically coordinate at a much deeper level and empower faster responses from Bard, but for now, Google Assistant’s future features are hard to predict.

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