Google today announced that it has begun rolling out its artificial assistant Duet to all Workspace apps, including Gmail, Drive, Slides, Docs and more. According to the company, Duet’s technology has been in testing for some time now, and more than a million people have already tried out Google’s virtual assistant. It is now available to anyone who pays for Google Workspace apps.
Google announced Duet AI at its I/O developer conference, introducing the feature set as a useful assistant across all Google apps. You can have Duet turn your outline in Google Docs into a presentation in Slides, or plot a graph from data in a spreadsheet. Duet can also be a creative tool – you can ask it to write a response to an email, generate images, or check your grammar. It can also be used to find what you need in Drive, summarize documents, and so on. You can think of Duet as a combination of the usefulness of Office Paperclip and the creativity of ChatGPT.
Duet is also an umbrella term for many of the app’s specific features. Duet in Google Meet is artificial intelligence-based lighting and sound customization and automatic meeting summaries; in Chat, it’s automatic summaries of long topics that you don’t have time to read.
All this artificial intelligence won’t come cheap, though: Google will charge $30 per user for access to Duet, at least for large organizations (Aparna Pappu, head of Workspace, said Google hasn’t yet decided on pricing for smaller teams). Microsoft’s Copilot artificial intelligence system, which has similar features and works in most Office applications, costs the same. In both cases, it’s a hefty price to pay for a set of still very new artificial intelligence tools.
The problem with all of these tools is that the AI models behind them aren’t perfect or even close to it, and the stakes are high when you’re working with business-critical data. If Google’s Bard chatbot comes up with a movie that doesn’t actually exist, that’s silly. But if Duet misinterprets or makes up your company’s sales figures, you’re in big trouble. Duet does try to navigate your data and files, but anyone who relies on Google’s artificial intelligence should always double-check it.
If you’re a Workspace user, Duet will appear in almost every app you use. In some places, it will be a separate menu that you can access by tapping the Duet icon in the top right corner. In other places, you can ask Duet for help right in the text of an email or document. Given Google’s penchant for putting its newest features at the forefront, even if it annoys users, you probably couldn’t ignore Duet even if you wanted to.
With Duet, Google is issuing a direct challenge to Microsoft. These “do-anything” tools are the foundation of the future for both major office suites, and both companies believe that artificial intelligence has the power to change the way we work. And if Duet and Copilot can do more than “I see you’re trying to write a resume!”, we might find a use for them.
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