ChatGPT, the bot produced by OpenAI, is all the rage right now. This clever online helper is able to answer questions, explain complex topics, and even write poems for Valentine's Day; however, it’s not perfect.
The bot’s knowledge is limited (especially with regard to events after 2021), and if you aren’t a paid subscriber you might find that you’re locked out when its servers are busy. It also doesn’t offer a massive suite of features beyond chatting – this AI won’t be winning photography competitions any time soon.
If OpenAI’s bot isn’t for you, here are some free and paid ChatGPT alternatives that you might want to try out.
If you’re looking for a ChatGPT alternative that’s the most similar to it, then Microsoft’s Bing Chat is the AI bot for you. This AI-powered version of the company’s search engine runs on the same framework as ChatGPT, so its answers and abilities should be pretty similar to those of its virtual cousin.
Bing Chat has one advantage, though: it can search the web.
Rather than having to rely on its digital libraries of stored data, Bing can retrieve information from anywhere on the internet – which should mean its knowledge is less limited than ChatGPT’s. Though by Bing Chat's own admission when the bot leaked its secret AI rules, Bing Chat isn’t promising to be correct with its answers – it’ll just serve up what the internet dishes out.
That said, Bing Chat will provide links to its sources, so you can investigate its recommendations and answers for yourself before choosing whether or not to rely on them.
Bing Chat is also free, with no paid tiers – so unlike ChatGPT, you won’t be booted off unless you pay up when demand is high. Before you can access Bing Chat you’ll need to join the waiting list, and hope Microsoft grants you access to its new service. So if you want to use an AI bot today, this likely won’t be the best pick.
- Try Bing Chat out for yourself (opens in new tab)
Character.AI is the best option on this list if you want to converse with an AI, though its service is more of a novelty than a helpful tool.
You can sign up for free using your email address, and you’ll then be able to have lengthy conversations with bots that are designed to chat as if they were a specific real-life person or fictional character. You can discuss science with Albert Einstein, Twitter drama with Elon Musk, and the goings on in Bikini Bottom with SpongeBob – or at least with AI approximations of these figures.
I particularly enjoyed talking to the AI Keanu Reeves about film, with the synthetic version of the action hero giving off the same kind-hearted energy as the kosher Keanu.
However, the chats aren’t particularly meaningful and lack the depth you’d expect when talking with an ‘expert’ in a specific field.
For example, I tried to get ‘Albert Einstein’ to explain special relativity to me (a theory the legendary physicist developed), but the bot could only provide me with very basic information about the relationships between mass, time, speed, and length in this framework. The information was accurate, but when I asked it to explain the ideas and expand on them it dodged the question, calling the subject “complicated.” That’s certainly an apt description, but we do know the reasoning behind special relativity, and a supposedly intelligent artificial Einstein should have been able to explain these ideas.
If you’re looking for a fine way to waste an hour or two then Character.AI is fun, but if you want a helpful AI it’s not the option for you.
- Try Character.AI out for yourself (opens in new tab)
YouChat is another very ChatGPT-like bot, and relies on the web for many of its answers just like Bing Chat, but it’s free to use and there’s no waiting list, so you can start chatting with this bot right away.
While you should always take an AI bot’s advice and answers with a pinch of salt, I found that YouChat’s responses to my queries – which ranged from finding out about The Mandalorian Season 3 to asking for an explanation of CRISPR gene editing – were fairly accurate. Plus, it often provided links to sources for its info, and websites that I could explore to understand the topic better.
It does, however, have a couple of issues.
While YouChat did always provide links to websites I could visit to investigate a topic further, it didn’t always provide sources for the actual answers it gave. This not only made it difficult to verify statements but also made it seem like responses were YouChat’s own. However, I found that its responses were often just rewordings and amalgamations of information from a few sites on the web.
What’s more, sometimes YouChat’s answers would just cut off. I asked it to give a short description of itself (I thought it would be fun to have the AIs introduce themselves as part of this piece) but it only provided: “I am a language model designed to assist with a wide range of tasks, from answering simple.” Which is hardly confidence-inspiring.
- Try YouChat out for yourself (opens in new tab)
JasperChat is an AI bot for content creators and businesses. While it can provide the same kinds of answers to questions as Bing Chat and YouChat (with links to its sources from the web) it also has more sophisticated productivity-focused abilities.
It can summarize a long block of text, create Facebook ads for products and services, and generate headlines for potential articles a media site might want to write to expand its coverage of a certain topic. You can also use it as an editor, asking it to reword your email in a friendlier tone, or add humor to a paragraph. You can even use its services to create AI art.
Many of its suggestions and short ideas are pretty impressive, although I wouldn’t recommend relying on it to produce video scripts or longer pieces of written content.
I put its document-creation tools to the test by asking it to write a 200-word piece about why gamers should try the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. I was able to provide the prompt, a few keywords to target, and a tone for the piece. The end result was generated quickly, but there were a few issues.
For one, JasperChat went well over the word count I asked for, giving me 436 words instead of 200. What’s more, the piece felt very waffly in its language, it lacked authority, and the bot often repeated itself – several of the paragraphs were literally copies of what it had already written, but with some words changed.
Another thing to note with JasperChat is that it’s a paid service. You can sign up for a five-day free trial, but after that you’ll need to pay monthly or yearly subscription to access its services. Pricing starts at $49 per month (around £40 / AU$70) for a plan with a 50,000 words a month limit. If you decide not to keep using JasperChat after the free trial period, remember to cancel, as you have to sign up with your payment details.
- Try JasperChat out for yourself (opens in new tab)
WriteSonic and its ChatSonic functions are a lot like JasperChat. This productivity-focused bot can produce adverts and content ideas, and even produce content for you, as well as chat and answer questions you might have. It can produce AI art images too.
Its content generation process is a little different though. When I gave WriteSonic the same VR gaming prompt as Jasper, it started by providing several headline options. I picked the one I liked best, and then asked it to provide a short intro for the piece (again choosing from multiple options). WriteSonic then used my selected intro to provide outlines for how it would continue the article; I picked the one I wanted, tweaked it a bit, and away it went.
This process is slower and more involved than JasperChat, but the end result seemed better. It was still somewhat repetitive, but overall the piece was more readable – perhaps because I was able to edit the prompts and suggestions as I went through the creation process.
WriteSonic’s chat function is a little different too, as it offers several personalities, including Astrologer, Comedian, Travel Guide, and Accountant. While the answers did seem to differ a little between the personalities, it didn’t feel like I was chatting to different people, like with Character.AI. ChatSonic was also not the best at providing sources for its information, making it harder to trust.
WriteSonic is free to use and sign up for, but the free version is limited; you only get 2,500 free words a month, and you can’t access all the tools available to paid subscribers. You don’t need to provide payment information to try the free trial, though, and if you like the service you can upgrade to the cheapest paid plan, which allows you 19,000 words per month, for just $13 per month (around £11 / AU19).
- Try WriteSonic out for yourself (opens in new tab)