Sat. May 18th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Google Gemini is an advanced AI model with three versions: Ultra, Pro, and Nano, optimized for various tasks and formats.
  • Gemini replaces Google Assistant, offering app launches, message sending, web searches, games, jokes, and more.
  • Gemini requires an internet connection and lacks media integration, reminders, routines, and real-time translation.

Google was late to the AI game. The company released Bard in early 2023, behind ChatGPT and what would eventually become Microsoft Copilot. Bard was lackluster at first, but it has since had a major glow up to become “Gemini”—and Google Assistant is in its sights.

What Is Google Gemini? Is It Different From Bard?

Google Gemini is a multimodal, general, and flexible AI model that can understand and reason across different types of information, such as text, code, audio, image, and video. It is optimized for three sizes: Ultra, Pro, and Nano.

  • Gemini Ultra: The largest and most powerful version of Gemini, which can handle complex tasks in math, physics, coding, and other areas. It is multimodal and more advanced than the other variants.
  • Gemini Pro: The standard version of Gemini, suitable for general tasks and queries. It is designed to balance model performance and speed.
  • Gemini Nano: The smallest and most efficient version of Gemini, which can run locally on mobile devices, like Pixel 8 Pro. It is optimized for quick, on-device AI processing without connecting to cloud servers.

Google Bard was the previous name of Gemini before it was rebranded in February 2024. Bard was an AI chatbot that used a lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA, a large language model that can generate natural and engaging responses to open-ended queries. Bard could also access the internet to leverage Google search for its responses.

The main difference between Gemini and Bard is that Gemini is more capable and advanced than Bard, as it uses the Ultra model, the largest and most state-of-the-art AI model from Google. And while Bard was only accessible through the web, Gemini is available on Android and iPhone and has a web version.

There’s also a premium version called Gemini Advanced, which unlocks additional features of Ultra. We’re talking about expanded abilities with multimodal inputs, more interactive coding tools, deeper data analysis, and more. You can access Gemini Advanced for $20/month after a free two-month trial as part of Google One’s new AI Premium Plan.

What Can Google Gemini Do As Google Assistant Replacement?

When you install the Gemini Android app, you will be prompted to replace Google Assistant with Gemini. This will be a complete replacement. In other words, if you opt-in when you install the app and then say “Hey Google” to your phone, hold down the power button, swipe in from the lower corner of the display, or otherwise perform a trigger that would usually launch Assistant, you’ll get the Gemini overlay instead. Once you install the Gemini app, it serves as your personal AI assistant. You can chat with it to get help on several kinds of everyday tasks:

  • Launch Apps: You can ask Gemini to open any app on your phone, such as WhatsApp, Spotify, or Instagram. Just say something like “Open WhatsApp” or “Launch Spotify,” and Gemini will do it for you.

Using Google Gemini to launch Whatsapp on Android phone

  • Send Messages: You can also use Gemini to send messages to your contacts by voice or typing. For example, you can say, “Send a message to John” or “Text Lisa,” and Gemini will ask you what you want to say.

sending text message using Google Gemini

  • Make Calls: Gemini can also make phone calls by voice or tapping. You can say, “Call Mom” or “Dial 911,” and Gemini will connect you to the right number.

Using Google Gemini to initiate call on Android phone

  • Search the Web: Gemini can help you find information on the web, such as weather, news, sports, or trivia. You can ask Gemini anything you want, such as “What’s the weather like today?” or “Who is topping the Premier League?” and Gemini will show you the relevant results from Google.

Using Google Gemini to Google search on Android phone

  • Screen Awareness: Gemini can also understand what’s on your screen and help you with relevant actions. Tap “Add This Screen” to let Gemini capture the details of your current screen.

Add this screen prompt on Google Gemini app

Then, you can ask it to generate text or answers based on what’s visible on your screen. For instance, if you’re reading an article, you can ask Gemini to summarize it or ask questions about the article.

Using Google Gemini to summarize an article on Android phone

  • Play Games: Gemini can also entertain you with fun games, such as trivia, hangman, or tic-tac-toe. You can say, “Let’s play a game” or “I’m bored,” and Gemini will suggest some games for you. You can also challenge Gemini to a game of rock-paper-scissors or coin-flip.

Playing tic-tac-toe with Google Gemini on Android phone

  • Make Jokes: Gemini can also make you laugh with some funny jokes, puns, or memes. You can say, “Tell me a joke” or “Show me a random meme,” and Gemini will surprise you with some hilarious content.

Google Gemini showing a random meme on prompting

Gemini is always learning and improving, so you can expect new features and updates in the future.

Google Assistant Tasks That Google Gemini Can’t Do (Yet)

Gemini has some limitations compared to Google Assistant. Unlike Google Assistant, which can perform basic tasks without an internet connection, such as setting alarms, playing music, or making phone calls, Google Gemini requires a constant and stable internet connection to function. This means that if you are in a remote area or your network is down, you won’t be able to use Google Gemini. In addition, Gemini doesn’t currently support any media integrations. So you won’t be able to ask it to play podcasts, news broadcasts, radio stations, or music from services like Spotify.

Gemini also can’t set reminders, a basic but useful skill Assistant offers. So, if you tell Gemini to remind you about an appointment next Tuesday, it apologetically tells you it doesn’t yet have that capability. Additionally, Gemini doesn’t support Routines, which allow Assistant to perform multiple smart home actions with a single voice command. If you tell Gemini to “start movie night,” it won’t know how to dim the lights and boot up the TV like Assistant can. Automating multistep tasks will require you to switch to Google Assistant to do that.

Lastly, Gemini lacks access to Google’s real-time translation feature, Interpreter mode. So you can have free-flowing discussions with Gemini, but it can’t act as an intermediary for conversations in different languages, as Assistant’s Interpreter mode can.

Google Assistant helping Gemini.

The good news is Google Assistant can “help” Gemini with some of these tasks still. If you’re using Gemini as the default digital assistant on Android, it will essentially fall back to Assistant for timers and alarms, controlling smart home devices, on-device actions like turning on Bluetooth, broadcasting to smart speakers, and reading pages out loud.

While these limitations may be frustrating if you are a longtime Google Assistant user, they stem from the fact that Gemini represents an entirely different, more advanced AI architecture. As Gemini matures, hopefully, its capabilities will expand to close the gaps with Assistant and combine conversational intelligence with Google’s services. But for now, you may need to switch between the two for certain tasks.

How to Use Google Gemini AI

Gemini AI tap selected in the Google app on an Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Can’t wait to try Gemini? Good news—you don’t have to! You can use it now through the web version or by downloading the Gemini app on your Android phone. If you use an iPhone or iPad, you can use Gemini through the regular Google app.

Gemini shows Google’s ongoing investment in AI, and it’s a shift from just answering questions to having a two-way chat. Google Assistant is still around, but Gemini will probably become the main smart service across Google’s products. So Gemini isn’t replacing Google Assistant—it’s taking it to the next level. This is just the start of a more natural, conversational Google experience.

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By John P.

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