May 11 (Reuters) – Google announced a flurry of artificial intelligence products – but users might need AI just to understand them all.
The Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) unit on Wednesday demonstrated or referenced at least 15 different AI products and features ranging from software solely for creating smartphone wallpaper to another for organizing personal files to yet another for photo editing.
Attendees of Google’s I/O conference in Mountain View, California, could be forgiven for leaving the annual event with their heads spinning. Take one of Google’s press releases from the event: “Duet AI serves as your expert pair programmer and assists cloud users with contextual code completion, offering suggestions tuned to your code base, generating entire functions in real-time, and assisting you with code reviews and inspections.”
For what seemed like every one of Google’s myriad products, the company had a distinct AI aide. Those wishing for snappier text messages can turn to a new assistant called Magic Compose that can transform more mundane prose into something sounding like William Shakespeare. If that’s not mellifluous enough, Google’s new MusicLM AI can make literal music out of text. Or there’s Sidekick to help you compose better documents in Google Docs. The company’s Perspectives AI finds personal stories from videos, blogs and social media posts to augment answers to search queries.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
“There was a lot of buzzwords and a lot of different products,” said Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst. “I call it a smorgasbord.”
If the two-hour keynote felt like a word salad, there were nonetheless meaty business needs behind the buffet of announcements. Investors agreed, sending the company’s shares up 5.5% on Thursday to a nine-month high.
Google is in a heated race with rival Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) to maintain its sizable lead in search and the estimated $300 billion total market for ads. Microsoft garnered accolades for adding generative AI, provided by startup OpenAI, alongside its Bing search engine to answer more nuanced questions and saw an initial uptick in market share as a result.
Google responded Wednesday by showing off what it calls the search generative experience. According to a demonstration, that will satisfy the very specific cohort of web surfers who are seeking the best red e-bikes for a 5-mile (8-km) commute with hills. Search generative experience is not to be confused with Google’s direct competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot known as Bard.
And there was much, much more: med-PaLM 2, Vertex AI, sec-PaLM, Gemini, Project Tailwind, Codey, Chirp, Duet AI for Google Workspace and Duet AI for Google Cloud.
As the Bard himself put it: “words, words, words.”
Reporting by Greg Bensinger; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
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Greg Bensinger joined Reuters as a technology correspondent in 2022 focusing on the world’s largest technology companies. He was previously a member of The New York Times editorial board and a technology beat reporter for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He also worked for Bloomberg News writing about the auto and telecommunications industries. He studied English literature at The University of Virginia and graduate journalism at Columbia University. Greg lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.