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As expected, Google execs took the stage in Paris this morning to announce updates to Google Search, Translate, and Lens. The company demonstrated its commitment to innovating by making mostly incremental announcements, despite increased pressure from rivals OpenAI and Microsoft. However it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows in Mountain View, as an embarrassing blunder was discovered in Google Bard’s press release.

Google Introduces Multisearch

Among the updates is a new “multisearch” feature, powered by A.I. This feature allows users to search using both text and images at the same time. For example, users can take a picture of a textile and ask google to find a shirt with the same textile. Users will also be able to take pictures of items and have Google identify the object and find local retailers. This might come in handy for users that are looking to replace a broken car part, for example.

Google Adds Context To Translate

Google also announced improvements to its translate service that will help improve the quality of translations. Among the updates is a UI redesign that add context to improve translations. For example, Google Lens can accurately translate words like “bass” depending on the context, such as a restaurant menu or a music shop pricelist. Users searching for words with multiple definitions will be provided with various definitions along with the appropriate translation. Large language models like GPT-3 have driven the recent improvements. In fact, the development of the transformer algorithm underlying GPT tools was first developed in the context of better translation models.

Google Updates Maps Usability

Users of Google’s map application will be excited by enhancements to make it more user-friendly. A forthcoming release will introduce glanceable directions to the lockscreens of both Android and iOS devices. This feature will provide users with updated ETAs and directions without having to unlock their phone. Additionally, the ability to search for stores, restaurants, and more with AR will expand to multiple cities. I’ve found this feature to be especially handy when looking for the entrance of a location without visible signage. Indoor Live View will also be available in over 1000 locations including malls, train stations, and airports. Furthermore, a EV charging filter is being introduced to Google Maps for Android Automotive.

Google’s Embarrassing Bard Release

Google seems to have demonstrated one of the problems with generative AI in their Bard press release on Monday. A mistake in the image of a product photo suggested that the James Webb Space Telescope took the first pictures of exoplanets, when in fact it was the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in 2004. The error revealed one of the well known limitations of AI Chatbots – a tendency to produce factually incorrect information. Google is currently testing the technology internally and with external users, with public availability expected in the coming weeks. Bards full functionality is expected to be revealed at Google I/O in May.

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