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Google Bard’s Gmail, Maps, Flights, and YouTube integrations will be tough for ChatGPT to match

Published Sep 19th, 2023 1:21PM EDT
Google Bard updates at Google I/O 2023.
Image: Google

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ChatGPT was the first generative AI chatbot to go mainstream, and it’s still widely regarded as the best chatbot available. But you shouldn’t put all your prompts into the same generative AI basket, so to speak. With Bing Chat, Google Bard, Google SGE, and Claude, there are plenty of other ChatGPT-like products to use during your everyday internet browsing.

In fact, Google Bard just received one of the biggest updates in its short history, and it’s one that ChatGPT can’t possibly match.

Google Bard can integrate with other Google products you already use, like Gmail, Docs, and Drive. More exciting is Google Bard’s integration with Google Maps, Flights, Hotels, and YouTube. These features can turn Bard into the most useful chatbot on the internet.

Let’s talk about privacy first

Since this is a Google product, and since generative AI products aren’t always built with enough privacy protections in mind, we have to talk about privacy when it comes to giving Bard access to your personal information in Gmail, Docs, and Drive.

Thankfully, Google says it will not use any data from Gmail, Docs, and Drive to train Bard. It won’t show ads based on those prompts, and humans won’t see them either.

Google Bard now works with Gmail, Docs, Drive, Maps, Flights, hotels, and YouTube.
Google Bard now works with Gmail, Docs, Drive, Maps, Flights, hotels, and YouTube. Image source: Google

However, the same privacy protections might not apply to Maps, Flights, Hotels, and YouTube. That’s because Google doesn’t explicitly list those apps in the privacy-related paragraph of the announcement on its blog:

We’re committed to protecting your personal information. If you choose to use the Workspace extensions, your content from Gmail, Docs, and Drive is not seen by human reviewers, used by Bard to show you ads or used to train the Bard model. And of course, you’re always in control of your privacy settings when deciding how you want to use these extensions, and you can turn them off at any time.

Why Bard support for Maps, Flights, and YouTube is so exciting

While using Google Bard to find personal information in Gmail, Docs, and Drive should be useful, I’m more excited about Google Maps, Flights, and YouTube working with Bard.

This will make planning trips and finding tickets easier than before. Bard integration with YouTube will let you surface relevant videos to whatever topic you might be researching, not just travel clips.

This example from Google, which also incorporates personal data from Gmail, perfectly illustrates why these integrations are so exciting:

For example, if you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon (a project that takes up many tabs), you can now ask Bard to grab the dates that work for everyone from Gmail, look up real-time flight and hotel information, see Google Maps directions to the airport, and even watch YouTube videos of things to do there — all within one conversation.

An example of a Google Bard prompt integrating with multiple Google apps.
An example of a Google Bard prompt integrating with multiple Google apps. Image source: Google

You can apply similar prompts to any future travel plans, and not only. And Google Bard should serve all that information instantly. Assuming, of course, it’s accurate.

Google Bard’s under-the-hood improvements

Google says it made other improvements to Google Bard that make these integrations possible. Specifically, Google updated to PaLM 2, its “most capable” language model yet. “Based on your feedback, we’ve applied state-of-the-art reinforcement learning techniques to train the model to be more intuitive and imaginative,” Google says.

Moreover, Google is expanding access to Lens support, Search images in responses, and Bard’s answer modifications to more than 40 languages.

Google Bard now lets you verify answers to prompts via a new Google It button.
Google Bard now lets you verify answers to prompts via a new Google It button. Image source: Google

Google is also releasing a new “Google It” button for the English version of Bard. Press it, and Google will offer an instant way to check the accuracy of responses:

When you click on the ‘G’ icon, Bard will read the response and evaluate whether there is content across the web to substantiate it. When a statement can be evaluated, you can click the highlighted phrases and learn more about supporting or contradicting information found by Search.

Whenever green quotes pop up, the information is similar to what Google Bard found initially. If the highlights show up orange, then Bard made a mistake.

Also, Bard will let you continue conversations that others have shared with you, remembering that context.

Can ChatGPT match Google Bard?

ChatGPT offers plenty of extensions of its own, especially if you’re on the Plus subscription. But there’s no telling if/when it might be able to integrate with your other apps like Bard does. Especially Google apps.

Put differently, Google can offer this deep Bard integration because it also controls the other apps Bard is now working with.

Whatever the case, we’re still only scratching the surface here. These new Bard features tease what’s coming from the near future: Personal AI that will be able to glean information from everywhere to meet your needs.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.