Bard is Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot that generates responses to user-provided natural language prompts. In response to a prompt, Bard can pull information from the internet and present a response. The large language model behind Bard delivers the response in natural language — in contrast to a standard Google search, where a result consists of a snippet of information or a list of links.
Google announced Bard in February 2023 after OpenAI and Microsoft both garnered attention for AI chatbot systems. And in May 2023, Bard and related AI advancements featured prominently in Google’s I/O event.
According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, Bard is ” … an experimental conversational AI service.”
In fact, Google places the word “Experiment” next to the system’s name to show it’s still a work in progress. Additionally, Google indicates that “Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views” in a disclaimer placed below the prompt box.
What is Google Bard used for?
Bard’s prompt-response process can help you obtain answers faster than a standard Google search sequence.
A classic Google search requires you to enter a natural language query or keywords, follow links, review content and then compile the results or repeat the process with a refined search.
SEE: Check out these Google Bard search prompting tips.
With Bard, you enter a prompt, then review the response. If the response isn’t exactly what you want, you have at least three options:
- View other drafts to display alternatively formatted responses.
- Regenerate the response to have the system craft a new reply.
- Follow-up with another prompt.
Bard can handle all sorts of tasks, but many of the most common uses are covered by the categories of capabilities detailed below.
Google Bard can summarize
As a large language model, Bard can adeptly summarize text. For example, provide a link to a web page and ask Bard to summarize the contents, e.g.:
Please summarize https://blog.google/technology/ai/bard-google-ai-search-updates/.
You also can suggest a specific length if you want a particular degree of brevity, such as “Please summarize in 100 words.”
Google Bard can compare
Bard can compare two or more items. In many cases, when you ask Bard to compare things, the system will display some of the data in a table. For example, if you prompt Bard:
Compare a Pixel 7, Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy S23.
Similarly, you may ask Bard to compare web pages.
Google Bard can suggest
Bard may serve as a suggestion engine for products, services or activities. Enter the title of books, music or movies you like, then ask Bard to suggest others. This can be useful when you’re researching unfamiliar topics. For example, you might try:
I am interested in learning the history of machine learning. Can you recommend 10 useful and highly respected books on the topic?
Google Bard can explain
When you want to learn about a topic or historical event, you can ask Bard to explain it to you. If you like, you may suggest a desired level in order to guide the system toward an explanation that may be either easier to understand or more detailed. For a general overview of a core technology that helps make Bard work, you might ask:
Can you explain the basics of how neural networks operate? Explain it to me as if I am in my first year of college.
Google Bard can brainstorm
One of the best uses of a chatbot is to gather a long list of ideas. Ask Bard to “Brainstorm ideas for…” followed by whatever topic you wish, such as a new project, promotional effort or paper. Encourage Bard to provide creative, unusual or inventive ideas for additional variety in the responses.
Google Bard can code and debug
In April 2023, Bard added the ability to create and help debug code in more than 20 programming languages. When you ask for code, make sure to specify the programming language and describe in as much detail as possible the code you need. If the code generated doesn’t work, let Bard know what exactly went awry, and ask for a suggested fix or for help interpreting an error code.
SEE: Explore other Google Bard enhancements.
Bard can draft text
Bard can help you write, too. As with most prompts, provide as much detail about the topic, length, format (blog post, poem, essay, book report, etc.) and style as possible. If you have a rough outline of a blog post, you might include the desired points in your prompt. For this section of text, for example, you might prompt:
Using the following points as an outline, can you draft examples and explanatory text? "Bard can summarize. Bard can compare. Bard can suggest. Bard can explain. Bard can brainstorm. Bard can draft text. Bard can code (and debug). Bard can search."
The responses Bard generated were reasonable and might have required only a little editing and correction to be usable.
Google makes it easy to move Bard text elsewhere. Select the response export button to move content to either a new Google Doc or Gmail. Alternatively, select the More button (the three vertical dots), then choose Copy to place the response text on the system clipboard for pasting into any app of your choice.
Bard can search
Since Bard can access internet content, many conventional keyword searches will also work in Bard. Ask about current news topics, weather forecasts or pretty much any standard keyword search string. However, Bard will provide responses mostly in conventional text, sometimes supplemented with images, whereas Google search may show content in custom formats (e.g., weather forecasts often display a chart). When you seek a set of links, switch out of Bard back to a standard Google search.
As of September 2023, people who sign in to Bard with personal Google accounts may optionally enable extensions. These extensions allow Bard to draw data from other Google services, including Google Flights, Hotels, Maps, Workspace (Gmail, Docs and Drive) and YouTube.
Bard can be wrong
Bard can get things wrong. Select the Double-check Response to take the generated text, search Google for it and then highlight supporting sources in light green and those not found in light orange. Never rely solely on content provided in Bard responses without verification. When Bard does provide an inaccurate, misleading or inappropriate response, select the thumbs down icon to convey to the system that it provided a bad response. Remember, Bard is an experiment.
What are Bard’s limitations?
Google labels Bard as an experiment and declares “it will make mistakes.” Even the Double-check It with Google feature may make mistakes. As a generative AI chatbot, Bard provides content that may seem accurate, but it should always be considered carefully, reviewed thoroughly and checked before use.
In addition, Bard has a limited context window, which means that it may “forget” content in a long conversation.
When was Google Bard released?
At launch in March 2023, Google limited Bard access via a waitlist to people with personal Google accounts. In early May 2023, Google eliminated the waitlist and made Bard more widely available.
How can you get access to Google Bard?
To access Bard, go to https://bard.google.com in a web browser, and sign in with a Google account (Figure A).
If your account is managed by a Google Workspace administrator, such as an account for work or school, the administrator may adjust settings to either allow or prevent access to Bard. Check with your administrator, should you have any questions.
If you are a Google Workspace administrator and wish to review or adjust the settings that affect Bard availability for people in your organization, access the Admin console | Apps | Additional Google services | Early Access Apps, then modify the Service status and Core Data Access Permissions as desired.
On October 4, Google announced that Bard features will come to Android and iOS devices. Assistant with Bard will allow multimodal interpretation, i.e. analysis of text, audio or video, and reply to natural language questions. Assistant with Bard will be available to early testers “soon,” Google said.
What countries and languages is Google Bard available in?
Bard is available in more than 230 countries and territories, including all 27 European Union countries (e.g., Germany, France, Italy and Spain) as well as Brazil.
Bard is available in more than 40 languages. And, according to Google’s support pages, Bard supports not only seven of the most widely spoken languages — English, Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali and French — but also Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Indonesia, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, German, Gujarati, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Kannada, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.
Can I manage my Bard activity history?
Yes, Google gives you control over your Bard activity history, much as it does your search and browsing history. To adjust the settings, select the Activity icon (a clock surrounded by a counter-clockwise pointing arrow and line) from the upper-right area. Then, you may choose whether Bard Activity history is on or off (Figure B).
If on, you may choose to Auto-delete activity after three, 18 or 36 months or not at all. Additionally, you may access your Bard activity history, which can be helpful if you wish to review or rerun a previous prompt.
Is Google Bard free to use?
Yes, Google Bard is available to use for free. Google Bard is free of advertising as well.
Is it safe to use Google Bard?
Google requires you to be 18 years of age or older to use Bard. An administrator must specifically choose to allow access to Bard for accounts connected to a Google Workspace organization. Even if allowed, you should make sure your use of Bard complies with your organization’s policies.
Google takes measures to make Bard useful and helpful but also prominently notes that the system “may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views.” To preserve privacy, do not share any personal or private information with Bard in your prompts.
Is Google Bard using PaLM 2?
In May 2023, Google announced that Bard had switched to using Pathways Language Model 2 rather than Language Model for Dialogue Applications. Google promotes PaLM 2 as a ” … state-of-the-art language model with improved multilingual, reasoning and coding capabilities.”
SEE: Learn how to successfully use ChatGPT.
Google plans to make PaLM 2 available in four distinct sizes: Gecko, Otto, Bison and Unicorn. The distinct sizes are intended to serve a wide range of computing environments. The smallest, Gecko, is intended to be functional even on a mobile device without an internet connection.
How does Google Bard get its information?
Bard is a large language model by Google that is built from vast data sets; Google also designed Bard to be able to access the internet. This combination of capabilities lets Bard devise natural language responses that include relevant current data in response to a prompt.
What are alternatives to Google Bard?
The ability to access current internet content is a key differentiator between Google Bard and many other chatbot AI systems. Many large language model chatbot systems were trained on older data and lack access to information about current events. This inability to browse the internet limits the usefulness of many of these systems.
Three alternatives to Bard that can access current internet content and are worth exploring are:
- Bing Chat: Available free with a Microsoft account.
- ChatGPT: ChatGPT Plus (available for $20 per month) and Enterprise accounts may access the internet as of late September 2023.
- Perplexity: Available free with account signin. Optional upgrade to Perplexity Pro features are available for $20 per month.
Two alternatives to Bard that lack access to current internet content are:
- Claude: Available free with an account, with optional Claude Pro features available for $20 per month.
- Pi: Available free with an account.