Google gets AI-friendly with Workspace and Cloud

Google has revealed new AI integrations for its business Workspace and Cloud products in an effort to keep pace with GPT-4 mania.

In an attempt to stay relevant in the wake of Microsoft’s release of the mighty ChatGPT-4 on Tuesday, Google has announced it will be incorporating AI power into its Workspace and Cloud platforms.

The new AI-generated Workspace features will help users “create, connect, and collaborate like never before,” according to the vice president of product management at Google Workspace, Johanna Voolich Wright.

Developers and businesses using Google Cloud will be able to preview a new AI-prototyping environment called MakerSuite, as part of a new AI-developer model, the PaLM API.

"PaLM API is an easy and safe way [...] for developers who want to build and customize their own [large-language] models and apps using generative AI," said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

The MakerSuite will have features "for prompt engineering, synthetic data generation and custom-model tuning — all supported by robust safety tools," according to Kurian.

Workspace gets an AI upgrade

In Workspace, Google kicks off its launch with AI-assisted writing features in Gmail and Docs, designed to “help people get started writing,” said Voolich Wright. .

“Simply type a topic you’d like to write about, and a draft will instantly be generated for you. With your collaborative AI partner you can continue to refine and edit, getting more suggestions as needed,” Voolich Wright explained.

With Gmail, AI can assist users to draft, reply, summarize, and prioritize their email content.

In Docs, users can use embedded AI to help them brainstorm, proofread, write, and rewrite their copy, Google said.

Google’s vision includes rolling out more AI elements later this year for the entire Workspace productivity suite, including Google Slides, Sheets, Meet, and Chat.

The upcoming features will incorporate AI-powered collaboration such as auto-generating images, audio, and video in Slides; insights and analysis via auto-completion, formula generation, and contextual categorization in Sheets; the ability to generate new backgrounds and capture notes in Meet; and finally, to enable workflows for getting things done in Chat, said Google.

The company plans to let “trusted testers” pilot the new features before they are made available to the public.

When it comes to fears of its AI making mistakes or even going rogue, Voolich Wright said the features had been created to keep the user in control, allowing them to accept, edit, or change the AI’s suggestions.

“Sometimes the AI gets things wrong, sometimes it delights you with something offbeat, and oftentimes it requires guidance,” Voolich Wright said.

“AI will never replace the ingenuity, creativity, and smarts of real people,” she added.

The new AI “experiences” will start to roll out this month in the United States and will only be in English at first, Google said.

Cloud features will encourage AI development

Google states its new cloud AI portfolio, including PaLM API and Makersuite, is designed to help developers and organizations access enterprise-level safety, security, and privacy, as well as integrate with their existing Cloud solutions.

"So many technology and platform shifts — from mobile to cloud computing — have inspired entire ecosystems of developers to start new businesses, imagine new products, and transform how they create," said Kurian on AI's potential impact.

The first AI feature to roll out of the Cloud suite will provide generative AI support within Google’s already established Vertex AI platform.

The platform is currently used by developers to build and deploy machine-learning models and AI applications at scale.

Vertex AI users will now be able to generate text and images, and eventually audio and video using new foundation models, said Google.

Next, the suite will offer the Generative AI App Builder to help companies and government entities build AI applications, AI-powered chat interfaces, and digital assistants in minutes or hours.

The last piece of the Cloud's AI initiative will expand Google's “AI ecosystem and specialized programs for technology partners, AI-focused software providers and startups,” Kurian said.

Google said it had made PaLM API and MakerSuite available in “Private Preview” for select developers. Others should look out for a waiting list, soon to be released.

Over three billion people use Workspace around the world, according to Google.

More than two million companies globally use Google Cloud services, or just under 18% of the world's market share according to Enlyft market research firm.

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