Bye-bye, Bard – Google Gemini AI takes on Microsoft Copilot with new Android app you can try now

Two phones on an orange background showing the Google Gemini app
(Image credit: Google)

Google Bard has been officially renamed as Geminiand as was recently rumored, there’s going to be a paid subscription to the AI in the same vein that Microsoft introduced with Copilot Pro not so long ago.

Gemini will, of course, sound familiar, as it’s actually the name of Google’s relatively recently introduced AI model which powered Bard – so basically, the latter name is being scrapped, simplifying matters so everything is called Gemini.

There’s another twist here, though, in that Google has a new sprawling AI model called Ultra 1.0, and this freshly built engine – which is the “first to outperform human experts on MMLU (massive multitask language understanding)” according to the company – will drive a new product called Gemini Advanced.

No prizes for guessing that Gemini Advanced is the paid subscription mentioned at the outset. Those who want Gemini Advanced will have to sign up to the Google One AI Premium plan (which is part of the wider Google One offering). That costs £19.99 / £18.99 per month and includes 2TB of cloud storage.

Google is really hammering home how much more advanced the paid Gemini AI will be, and how it’ll be much more capable in terms of reasoning skills, and taking on difficult tasks like coding. For a breakdown of the differences between the free and paid tiers, check out our Google Gemini explained breakdown.

We’re told Gemini Advanced will offer longer more in-depth conversations and will understand context to a higher level based on your previous input. Examples provided by Google include Gemini Advanced acting as a personal tutor capable of creating step-by-step tutorials based on the learning style it has determined is best for you.

Or for creative types, Gemini Advanced will help with content creation, taking into account considerations such as recent trends, and ways in which it might be best for creators to drive audience numbers upwards.

Google is also introducing a dedicated Gemini app for its Android OS (available in the US starting today, and rolling out to more locations "starting next week"). Gemini will be accessible via the Google app on iOS, too.

Owners of the best Android phones will get the ability to use Gemini via that standalone app, or can opt in via Google Assistant, and it’ll basically become your new generative AI-powered helper instead of the latter.

Long press the power button and you’ll summon Gemini (or use “Hey Google”) and you can ask for help in a context-sensitive fashion. Just taken a photo? Prod Gemini and the AI will pop up to suggest some captions for example, or you can get it to compose a text, clarify something about an article currently on-screen, and so on.

Google Assistant voice features will also be catered for by Gemini on Android, such as controlling smart home gadgets.

Naturally, the iOS implementation won’t be anything like this, but within the Google app you’ll have a Gemini button that can be used to create images, write texts, and deliver other more basic functions than you’ll see on Android.

The rollout of the Gemini app on Android, and iOS handsets, starts from today in the US, so some folks may be able to get it right now. It’ll be made available to others in the coming weeks.

Analysis: As Bard exits stage left, will Gemini shine in the spotlight?

Google is pretty stoked about the capabilities of Gemini Advanced, and notes that it employs a diverse set of 57 subjects – from math and physics, through to law and medicine – to power its knowledge base and problem-solving chops.

We’re told by Google that in “blind evaluations with our third-party raters” the Ultra 1.0-powered Gemini Advanced came out as the preferred chatbot to leading rivals (read: Copilot Pro).

Okay, that’s all well and good, but big talk is all part of a big launch – and make no mistake, this is a huge development for Google’s AI ambitions. How the supercharged Ultra 1.0 model pans out in reality, well, that’s the real question. (And we’re playing around with it already, rest assured – stay tuned for a hands-on experience soon).

The other question you’ll likely be mulling is how much will this AI subscription cost? In the US and UK it’ll run to $20 / £18.99 per month (about AU$30 per month), though you do get a free trial of two months to test the waters, which seems to suggest Google is fairly confident Gemini Advanced will impress.

If $20 monthly sounds familiar, well, guess what – that’s exactly what Microsoft charges for Copilot Pro. How’s that for a coincidence? That said, there’s an additional value spin for Google here – the Google One Premium plan doesn’t just have its AI, but other benefits, most notably 2TB worth of cloud storage. Copilot Pro doesn’t come with any extras as such (unless you count unlocking the AI in certain Microsoft apps, such as Word, Excel and so on, for Microsoft 365 subscribers).

So now, not only do we have the race between Google and Microsoft’s respective AIs, but we have the battle between the paid versions – and perhaps the most interesting part of the latter conflict will be how much in the way of functionality is gated from free users.

Thus far, Copilot Pro is about making things faster and better for paying users, and adding some exclusive features, whereas Gemini Advanced seems to be built more around the idea of adding a lot more depth in terms of features and the overall experience. Furthermore, Google is chucking in bonuses like cloud storage, and looking to really compete on the value front.

However, as mentioned, we’ll need to spend some time with Google’s new paid AI offering before we can draw any real conclusions about how much smarter and more context-aware it is.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).