Google debuts more powerful “Ultra 1.0” AI model in rebranded “Gemini” chatbot

A promotional image for Google Gemini AI products.

Enlarge (credit: Google)

On Thursday, Google announced that its ChatGPT-like AI assistant, previously called Bard, is now called "Gemini," renamed to reflect the underlying AI language model Google launched in December. Additionally, Google has launched its most capable AI model, Ultra 1.0, for the first time as part of "Gemini Advanced," a $20/month subscription feature.

Untangling Google's naming scheme and how to access the new model is somewhat confusing. To tease out the nomenclature, think of an AI app like Google Bard as a car brand that can swap out different engines under the hood. It's an AI assistant—an application of an AI model with a convenient interface—that can use different AI "engines" to work.

When Bard launched in March 2023, it used a large language model called LaMDA as its engine. In May 2023, Google upgraded Bard to utilize its PaLM 2 language model. In December, Google upgraded Bard yet again to use its Gemini Pro AI model. It's important to note that when Google first announced Gemini (the AI model), the company said it would ship in three sizes that roughly reflected its processing capability: Nano, Pro, and Ultra (with larger being "better"). Until now, Pro was the most capable version of the Gemini model publicly available.

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