Microsoft has been making major moves in the generative AI space, but now Google is fighting back.
On Tuesday, the tech giant announced new AI features for Google Workspace that rival Microsoft’s new AI-powered Bing and Edge chat capabilities. Soon you’ll be able to use AI to generate text directly within Gmail and Google Docs. Google is starting with Gmail and Docs, but plans to expand these features to Slides, Sheets, Meet, and Chat.
A demo of the feature working in Google Docs shows a button with a starry pen icon at the top of the document saying “Help me write.” By clicking the button you can ask the tool to generate a draft of something (in this case, a job description for a regional sales rep). The tool then generates a job description within the document that you can then review, edit, and adjust for tone.
Similarly, in Gmail, you can tap the icon at the bottom of the draft and ask it to generate a draft, or elaborate, shorten, bulletize, and adjust the tone of the text if you’ve already written something in the draft. According to the announcement, Google will be rolling out these features to a “limited set of trusted testers” in the coming weeks.
Ever since OpenAI launched the latest version of ChatGPT and subsequently partnered with Microsoft to bring OpenAI’s generative AI technology to Bing and Edge, Google has been in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up. ChatGPT’s popularity prompted Google to declare a “code red,” and rushed to announce its own ChatGPT-esque chatbot called Bard. Then Bard was called out for its inaccuracy, causing stock prices to tumble. That, coupled with internal reports from employees that the Bard launch was “botched” has made Google look uncharacteristically vulnerable.
But while Microsoft’s new toys are currently basking in the spotlight, Google’s announcement serves as a reminder that, despite a few missteps, it’s still a major contender in the AI arms race. According to the announcement, three billion people use Google Workspace. That means three billion people will soon be using Google’s AI features in Gmail and Docs.
Microsoft may have been first to market with generative AI attached to a flagship product at a big tech brand, but the market belongs to Google.