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Google Begins Slow Rollout Of Google Bard

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Google Bard 640

Yesterday, Google began to slowly roll out Google Bard to some initial reporters and also Google opened up a waitlist to users in the US and UK. I personally gained access to Bard after writing most of this article but I did gain access to Bard yesterday at 1pm ET. But you can sign up for the waitlist at bard.google.com (it does not yet work with Google WorkSpace accounts).

Below you will find out more information on how Bard looks, how it works, how the citations/sources work, limitations, early impressions and more. There is a lot here – and it is super early.

My early impressions is that Google is clearly positioning Bard to be very different from Google Search. In addition, Google is also making sure Bard feels and works differently than Bing Chat. Bing Chat, to me, feels way more thought out in terms of the user experience and all the tiny details in how it works with Bing Search. Google is making it super clear right now that Bard is not Search and only putting a “Google It” button in the Bard results so that you are taken out of Bard and into Search.

Bard does not do a lot of what Bing Chat and ChatGPT does but Bard is way faster. Bard has no ads, Bing Chat does have ads. Bard rarely show citations/links, Bing Chat shows citations and links in a much more prominent way. Bard and Bing Chat are just very different, while being similar in purpose.

Bard is Google’s experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA, where Google can answer questions that might not have one right answer. Google said, “Bard is powered by a research large language model (LLM), specifically a lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA, and will be updated with newer, more capable models over time. It’s grounded in Google’s understanding of quality information. You can think of an LLM as a prediction engine. When given a prompt, it generates a response by selecting, one word at a time, from words that are likely to come next. Picking the most probable choice every time wouldn’t lead to very creative responses, so there’s some flexibility factored in. We continue to see that the more people use them, the better LLMs get at predicting what responses might be helpful.” In short, it will get better over time, so don’t be too harsh on Google…

As a reminder, Google said Bard is not Search we have quotes from Google’s Bard lead who said, “It’s an experiment that’s a collaborative AI service that we talked about,” Krawczyk said. “The magic that we’re finding in using the product is really around being this creative companion to helping you be the sparkplug for imagination, explore your curiosity, etc.” But he added, “we can’t stop users from trying to use it like search.”

What Bard Looks Like

Here are some screenshots and videos of Bard from Google:

click for full size

Google Bard2

Google Bard3

Citations/Links to Publishers Are Hard To Come By

It is hard to find sources, citations and links in Google Bard but they do come up if you try hard enough. Gary Illyes from Google did say publishers will get traffic from Bard, maybe that is what he meant when we see the “Google it” button in Bard?

I asked Areej Abuali and Billie Geena – who has access already, and she was unable to find Bard giving any links to any source. But some, including in my tests, were able to see some sources and links. Google Bard also has a “Google it” button…

If you really work hard to get a citation, you kind of do but not link:

And sometimes not:

When I gained access, I asked Bard why exactly it refused to give sources and citations, it said:

I cannot show you the URL of where I came up with this answer because I did not come up with this answer from a specific URL. I am trained on a massive dataset of text and code, including the Google Search index. This allows me to access and process information from the real world through Google Search and keep my response consistent with search results.

Oh wait, maybe you can force a link if you try hard enough and specific enough but this is not good enough:

Just not the best experience:

Here is why Google Bard is less likely to provide citations, “Bard is trained on a massive dataset of text and code, and it can be difficult to determine which sources were used to generate a particular answer.”

Early Impressions

The folks at The Verge played with Bard in a limited way and they said:

In a demo for The Verge, Bard was able to quickly and fluidly answer a number of general queries, offering anodyne advice on how to encourage a child to take up bowling (“take them to a bowling alley”) and recommending a list of popular heist movies (including The Italian Job, The Score, and Heist). Bard generates three responses to each user query, though the variation in their content is minimal, and underneath each reply is a prominent “Google It” button that redirects users to a related Google search.

Bard’s interface is festooned with disclaimers to treat its replies with caution

As with ChatGPT and Bing, there’s also a prominent disclaimer underneath the main text box warning users that “Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views” — the AI equivalent of “abandon trust, all ye who type here.”

As expected, then, trying to extract factual information from Bard is hit-and-miss. Although the chatbot is connected to Google’s search results, it couldn’t fully answer a query on who gave the day’s White House press briefing (it correctly identified the press secretary as Karine Jean-Pierre but didn’t note that the cast of Ted Lasso was also present). It was also unable to correctly answer a tricky question about the maximum load capacity of a specific washing machine, instead inventing three different but incorrect answers. Repeating the query did retrieve the correct information, but users would be unable to know which was which without checking an authoritative source like the machine’s manual.

Billie Geena gained access to Bard right away, here are some of her tweets:

Areej Abuali said OpenAI’s ChatGPT beats Google Bard in her early tests:

Some more tweets in the wild:

I guess Google is okay with buying links now? 🙂

Local:

But Bard does not always get it right, like Google said:

Can Bard tell you if your content meets EEAT?

Here is a good comparison tweet:

And yes, Bard is a kiss up:

The most important feature:

I am looking forward to testing out Bard and letting you know what I find, until then, we wait. You can read the other coverage on this announcement on Techmeme.

Forum discussion at Twitter and WebmasterWorld.



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Google Hanukkah Decorations Are Live For 2023

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Google Hanukkah 2023

Hanukkah (aka Chanukah) starts this coming Thursday night, December 7th. Google has added its Hanukkah decorations to the Google Search results interface to celebrate. Google does this every year and I expect to see the same rollout in the coming weeks for Christmas and Kawanzaa but for now, since Chanukah is in the coming days, we have the Hanukkah decorations live at Google Search.

Here is a screenshot of the Chanukah decorations as they look like on the mobile search results.

Google Hanukkah Decorations 2023

You can see it yourself by searching on Google for [chanukah], [hanukkah], but not yet [חֲנוּכָּה‎] or other spelling variations yet but it should soon. It looks better on mobile than it does on desktop results.

To see the past, the 2023 decorations, 2021 decorations, 2020 Chanukah decorations, 2019 Google holiday decorations, the 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and so on.

Happy Chanukah, everyone!

Forum discussion at X.

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Google Pay Accepted Icons In Google Search Results

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Woman Checking Out Store Google Logo

Google seems to be testing a Google Pay Accepted label or icon in the Google search results. This label has the super G logo followed by the words “Pay accepted” words next to search result snippets that support Google Pay and notate such in their structured data.

This was first spotted by Khushal Bherwani who shared some screenshots of this on X – here is one:

G Pay Accepted Google Search

Here are some more screenshots:

Brodie Clark also posted some screenshots after on X:

Google Pay Accepted Google Search

I tried to replicate this but I came up short.

This is not the first time Google had similar icons like this in its search results.

Forum discussion at X.



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Google Discover Showing Older Content Since Follow Feature Arrived

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Dog Astronut Google Logo

Typically, Google Discover shows content that is less than a day old, but it can show content that is weeks, months, or even years old. However, typically, Google will show more recent content in the Discover feed. Well, that may have changed with the new Google follow feature.

Glenn Gabe, who is a very active Google Discover user, noticed that since the Follow feature rolled out, he has been seeing content that is weeks and months old way more often than before the follow feature rolled out. Glenn wrote on X that “this could also be playing a role. i.e. Google isn’t providing as much recent content, but instead, focusing on providing targeted content based on the topics you are following.”

It makes sense that if you follow a specific topic and if Google Discover only shows the most authoritative types of content, it might be hard for Google to find new content on that topic. So it does make sense that Google may show older content more often for that specific topic you follow.

Here are screenshots Glenn shared:

Google Discover Old Stories Follow

Google Discover Old Stories Follow2

Have you noticed this in your Discover feed?

Forum discussion at X.



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