Google Bard is getting a major upgrade that will allow it to interact with various Google and third-party services. The feature, called Bard Extensions, was announced at Google I/O 2023, and it will enable users to do things like book flights, hotels, restaurants, and real estate using natural language queries. Now, the folks at 9to5Google have found a leak of how the UI will look for discovering extensions through Bard.
Bard Extensions will work by integrating Bard with different APIs and platforms, such as Adobe, Kayak, Instacart, and OpenTable. These are some of the initial partners that Google has revealed, but more are expected to join in the future. Users will be able to enable or disable particular services from a menu that will appear next to the Bard icon. The menu will also have a puzzle-piece icon that will indicate the availability of Bard Extensions for a given service.
One of the benefits of Bard Extensions is that users will not have to switch between different apps or websites to accomplish their tasks. They can simply ask Bard what they want to do, and the chatbot will handle the rest. For example, users can say “Bard, book me a flight to New York for next weekend” or “Bard, find me a nice restaurant near the Eiffel Tower” and Bard will respond with relevant options and confirmations.
Another advantage of Bard Extensions is that they will leverage Bard's natural language understanding and generation capabilities. This means that users can use conversational and informal language to communicate with Bard, and the chatbot will be able to understand and respond accordingly. Users can also ask follow-up questions or provide feedback to Bard, and the chatbot will adapt to their preferences and needs.
Google is also preparing a Workspace extension for Bard, which will give the chatbot access to Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail. This will allow users to create, edit, and share documents, files, and emails using Bard. Users can also ask Bard for help with formatting, spelling, grammar, and other features of Workspace.
Competing with OpenAI's ChatGPT Plugins and Bing Chat
Bard Extensions is seen as Google's answer to ChatGPT Plugins, which is a similar feature from ChatGPT, one of Google's competitors in the chatbot space. ChatGPT Plugins was launched in March, and it allows ChatGPT to integrate with various services such as Spotify, Netflix, Uber, and Amazon. However, Google claims that Bard Extensions will offer more functionality and flexibility than ChatGPT Plugins, as well as better natural language processing and generation.
Microsoft and OpenAI also leverage their partnership in a shared plugin ecosystem between ChatGPT and Bing Chat. The plugins are based on open standards that enable them to work seamlessly with both ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot AI, a suite of intelligent chatbots that includes Bing Chat, Windows Copilot, Dynamics 365 Copilot, and Microsoft 365 Copilot.
However, OpenAI has since blocked the Bing Chat plugin in ChatGPT. Browse with Bing is a feature that came to the ChatGPT Plus subscription feature last month. However, some users found a way to exploit ChatGPT's abilities to bypass paywalls of news websites. By asking the AI to summarize the articles for them, they could access the content without paying for a subscription.
It is arguable that Google has a head start in extensions considering its Chrome browser already has millions of web plugins available. Google has not announced a specific release date for Bard Extensions yet, but it is expected to roll out in the coming months. Users who are interested in trying out Bard Extensions can sign up for early access on Google's website.