Google Gemini is the rebranded Bard with apps it deserves, and a subscription

So far, OpenAI’s ChatGPT was available as an app on any Android phone. As too, on an Apple iPhone. Microsoft’s Copilot (erstwhile Bing AI) has three experiential interaction points on Android and iPhone – a Copilot app, Bing search app and the Edge web browser. Google hoped a user would make the effort to access a webpage to chat with Bard, the artificially intelligent chatbot. Its only entry point. Things are changing. Google is rebranding Bard to Gemini, in line with its recently launched AI models.

Gemini 1.0, since its release in December, is available in three AI model sizes, defined by levels of capabilities and requirements of processing power. (Image from Google)
Gemini 1.0, since its release in December, is available in three AI model sizes, defined by levels of capabilities and requirements of processing power. (Image from Google)

With the rebranding from Google Bard to Google Gemini, comes more interface points for a user to begin interacting with the artificial intelligence tool. Android phone users will now be able to download a new Gemini app for Android phones. It can be tasked to replace Assistant on Android devices and will retain the same methods to invoke the chatbot as Assistant does – mapped to the phone’s power button, corner swipe gesture or Hey Google voice command.

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“It’s a super important first step towards building a true AI assistant that is conversational, multimodal, and more helpful than ever before,” said Sissie Hsiao, vice-president and general manager at Google, in a briefing of which HT was a part. Users will have the convenience of typing into the Gemini chat window, voice conversation or even sharing a photo with it, for search, assistance and completing tasks.

“Let’s say you’re having a dinner party. You can quickly bring up Gemini on your phone and generate a custom image for that invitation you’re about to send. Or you can even ask for help writing a difficult text or email message,” adds Hsiao, describing some of the things Gemini will be able to do, on smartphones and via the web browser.

Things would be less elaborate on an Apple iPhone or iPad. Gemini chatbot will reside within what will now be a comparatively souped-up version of the Google app that’s already available on iPhones. This integration will be the sole access point to the Gemini AI chatbot on an iPhone, for now. Google has not detailed any plans for a dedicated Gemini app for the iPhone. Interestingly, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Copilot and even Perplexity AI have dedicated iPhone apps for their AI chatbots.

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If you wish to use the web version on a desktop or computing device, will now be replaced with to reflect the new branding, and multimodal capabilities. The initial roll-out, which begins now, will see availability in English, Japanese and Korean languages, with more languages and countries as part of expansion plans in the near future. No specific timelines though, for any particular languages or countries.

Google is also introducing a subscription tier for Gemini. That’ll be part of the Google One subscription bundle, with a new plan called Google One AI Premium plan. This is priced at $19.99 per month and it’ll unlock access to Gemini Advanced with the Ultra 1.0 model, alongside Gemini AI in more Google apps including Gmail and Docs. Google says an existing Google One subscriber can add on the AI capabilities for $10 per month. Google’s pricing is at par with Microsoft Copilot Pro (around $20 per month) and OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus ($20 per month).

It is a two-tier structure of Google Gemini’s rebranding with a subscription. If you don’t pay and wish to use the free tier, the Gemini app on Android phones and the Gemini chatbot with the Google app on an iPhone, will use the Gemini Pro model. If you decide to pay $19.99 per month for the Google One AI Premium Plan, that’ll unlock access to the more powerful Gemini Ultra model.

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Gemini 1.0, since its release in December, is available in three AI model sizes, defined by levels of capabilities and requirements of processing power. Gemini Ultra is its most powerful and capable model for complex implementations. Gemini Pro, which sits mid-tier, is designed to be a size smaller for scaling across more specific customisations and broader usage scenarios such as mobile devices. Gemini Nano, as the name suggests, is the model optimised for on-device AI tasks, with frugal tasks on smartphones expected to be in focus.

“With access to our Ultra 1.0 model, Gemini Advanced is far more capable at highly complex tasks with a range of applications like coding, logical reasoning, following nuanced instructions, and creative collaboration. Not only does Gemini Advanced allow you to write longer prompts, it can also better understand the context of your previous prompts,” details Hsiao.

The Gemini rebranding is also expanding to Duet AI in Google Workspace, which attained wider availability late last year. It’ll become Gemini for Workspace and Gemini for Google Cloud for consumers, and that means the most popular Google apps including Gmail, Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Meet will have Gemini AI’s multimodal capabilities integrated. To what extent, will be dependent on whether you subscribe to the Google One AI Premium Plan or not, much like how the Android and iPhone apps would work.

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“Gemini in Gmail, Docs and more will act as your AI collaborative partner, allowing you to create, synthesise information, communicate, and get more things done right from within the tools you’re already using. Gemini will also take into account the context of what you’re working on, whether that’s the current email thread or a document in your Drive,” says Kristina Behr, vice-president, product management for Workspace at Google.

For now, Google’s Gemini rebranding and push is understandably focused on the smartphone platforms, as well as integration with their suite of apps for consumers and business users. Whether Gemini and any of the models make it to more Google devices, including Google TV, Android TV, or smart home devices, remains anyone’s guess.

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