Gemini Live's background mode and app extensions could blow Apple Intelligence away

Google Gemini website displayed on Google Pixel 7a
(Image credit: Future / James Ide)

During Google I/O 2024, the tech giant previewed Gemini Live, a unique version of the AI on mobile capable of holding “natural conversations.” You can think of it like Siri, as you’ll be able to engage in a two-way dialogue with Gemini and have the AI respond concisely.

Since the initial announcement, we haven’t heard much about the tech until recently, when strings of code referencing Gemini Live were found in a Google app beta. The code mentions a “background mode” letting users continue conversations “while using other apps or while [their] screen is locked.” As 9To5Google points out, this effectively turns the Gemini Live experience into a phone call of sorts.

The AI will continue to accept vocal inputs and reply as you do other things. A user could, for example, open Chrome on their Android phone, look up something on the search engine, and seamlessly relay that information back to Gemini. Again, the goal is to make talking with the AI natural. 

9To5Google states interactions can be ended by “looking for a persistent notification” or saying “Stop” to Gemini Live aloud.

Possible features

There was more uncovered in the beta beyond the background mode, though.

Google is apparently working on a way to give users quick access to Gemini when their smartphone is locked. Looking at the report's screenshot, you’ll be able to utilize four extensions to first-party services: Google Maps, Google Flights, Google Hotels, and YouTube.

It’s unknown exactly what you’ll be able to do with those extensions, as details are scarce. But judging from what was shown, users might be able to ask Gemini for directions, play music on YouTube, or book a flight.

Those four will be turned on by default, and Google seemingly has plans to add support for more extensions; however, there is a small catch. According to the screenshot, “extensions that don’t require user credentials or don’t access private data will be on by default.” Everything else would presumably require manual activation.

Additionally, users can toggle three extra features for Gemini on the lock screen, expanding the AI’s level of control. Messages lets you text friends and family, while  Workspace can locate and summarize emails or documents. Then there is Home Automation, which is arguably the most interesting as it allows homeowners to manage smart home devices from the lock screen.

Surpassing Apple 

It’s unknown when Gemini Live will launch. The May announcement said the software was supposed to arrive within the coming months to Gemini Advanced subscribers. So far, Google has been silent. Maybe we’ll see it before summer ends or later in the fall.

Whenever it is released, the background mode and lock screen interactivity could allow the upgrade to stand out against the likes of Apple Intelligence. Apple’s tech is highly capable, too, offering all sorts of tools for organization, content creation, and more. However, judging from what we’ve seen, constant interaction is required. Gemini Live is less stringent, which could make it easier to use.

As always, take these leaks with a grain of salt. Things can always change last minute.

If you're interested in what is the best AI chatbot out there, check out our Versus article where we compare the big three: Meta AI, ChatGPT, and Google Gemini.

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.