Google’s AI Image Generation Feature in Search: A New Step Toward Generative AI

Google has joined the league of companies providing artificial intelligence (AI) image generation capabilities to users, with the introduction of its new text-to-image generation AI feature in Google Search. However, this feature is currently only available to users who opt into the Search Generative Experience (SGE) in Google Search Labs, the experimental beta testing service offered by the company.

According to Hema Budaraju, senior director of product management at Google Search, the company believes that generative AI in Search has the potential to inspire and facilitate productivity. In an official blog post, Budaraju stated, “We believe that generative AI in Search can help spark inspiration and help you get even more done. We look forward to continued testing and getting user feedback.”

Alongside the text-to-image generation AI feature, Google has also introduced a new capability that allows users to compose Google Docs-style written drafts using AI in Search. These drafts can then be exported to Gmail or Google Docs, offering greater convenience in the drafting process. Budaraju cited an example of drafting a note to a home contractor as a practical use of this feature.

Google’s AI Image Generation Technology

The new image creation capacity in Google Search is powered by Imagen, Google’s proprietary AI image generation foundation model. While it has been available since May through the Google Cloud AI development and deployment environment Vertex, it previously required access through a credit card (initial usage is free).

In a blog post, Google showcased the versatility of its image generator AI by sharing an animated GIF of a capybara wearing a chef’s hat. By simply typing “draw an image of a…” followed by a description of the desired image into the search bar, users could create multiple versions of the capybara. However, during VentureBeat’s test of the Search Labs experience, the image generation capability was not yet accessible.

A Google spokesperson explained that the rollout of these capabilities had just begun and advised users to keep an eye out for their availability. This gradual release is similar to OpenAI’s approach with ChatGPT, which took two weeks to fully roll out its vision and audio capabilities.

Unfortunately, the lack of clarity regarding who can access AI image generation in Google Search and how might hinder the feature’s success. Competing AI image generators are already widely accessible, making it crucial for Google to streamline availability and improve user communication.

While Google continues to enhance its AI offerings, it is worth noting that OpenAI has reportedly achieved over $1.3 billion in annualized revenue, driven largely by the success of its signature AI product, ChatGPT. The latest version of ChatGPT, powered by the LLM-powered ChatGPT with vision and audio analysis capabilities, has garnered positive feedback for its impressive results and real-world applications.

As for Google, the eagerly awaited release of its highly anticipated AI foundation model, Gemini, holds the promise of surpassing the capabilities of ChatGPT. Both companies are pushing the boundaries of AI technology, and users can expect further advancements in the realm of generative AI in the near future.

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