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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

AI chatbot Google Bard with Gemini Pro now available in SA

Google Bard with Gemini has now equalled ChatGPT’s performance on a popular chatbot arena, coming second on the leaderboard

Tech giant Google has announced its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot Bard with Gemini Pro, its largest and most capable AI model, will now be available in South Africa.

Google is also introducing image generation to help bring more of “your ideas to life.”

Google Bard with Gemini has now equalled ChatGPT’s performance on a popular chatbot arena, coming in second on the leaderboard just behind GPT-4-Turbo, OpenAI’s most advanced model.


In December, Google made a series of announcements surrounding a major AI breakthrough about Gemini.

Among those announcements was that Bard would start using a specifically tuned version of the Gemini Pro model.

Powered by a newly updated version of the new Gemini Pro artificial intelligence model, Bard has seen a marked increase in performance since the model’s release in December.

Google said Bard with Gemini Pro is especially good at understanding, summarising, reasoning, coding and planning.

ALSO READ: Google reveals SA interest in AI spiked to 650% over past five years

Double-check your responses

As part of their “bold and responsible approach” to AI, Google said it has proactively engaged with experts, policymakers and privacy regulators on this expansion.

“As part of this launch, we’re also expanding the ability to double-check Bard’s responses in a host of languages. When you click on the “G” icon in Bard, Bard will read the response and evaluate whether there is content across the web to substantiate it.

“When a statement can be evaluated, you can click the highlighted phrases and learn more about supporting or contradicting information found by Search,” Google said.

Image generation

Google said that because Gemini is a multimodal AI model capable of generalising and seamlessly working across different types of information, including text, images, audio, video, and coding languages, it is also making text-to-image generation available in Bard.

For an extra creative boost, users can now generate images in Bard in English in most countries around the world at no cost.

Google said the new capability is powered by its updated Imagen 2 model, which is designed to balance quality and speed, delivering high-quality, photorealistic outputs.

“Just type in a description and Bard will generate custom, photorealistic visuals to match your vision, giving your bright ideas an extra creative boost.

“Want Bard to write a bedtime story featuring an intrepid Goldendoodle dog as the main character? Ask Bard to: “Generate an image and a bedtime story about a mini Goldendoodle wearing a scarf on an epic adventure to climb a snowy mountain,” Google said.

Google said the feature currently only works in English but hopes to add support for more languages soon.


Google said that, consistent with its AI principles, image generation was designed with responsibility in mind.

“For instance, to ensure there’s a clear distinction between visuals created with Bard and original human artwork, Bard uses SynthID to embed digitally identifiable watermarks into the pixels of generated images.

“Our technical guardrails and investments in the safety of training data seek to limit violent, offensive or sexually explicit content. Additionally, we apply filters designed to avoid the generation of images of named people. We’ll continue investing in new techniques to improve the safety and privacy protections of our models,” Google said. 

These updates make Google’s Bard an even more helpful and globally accessible AI collaborator for everything from big, creative projects to smaller, everyday tasks.

Google’s plans will put pressure on OpenAI, which is working on GPT-5, and strategic partner and investor Microsoft, which competes with Google largely in cloud computing and office tools.

Try it out here: bard.google.com

Bard advanced

Meanwhile, Google confirmed that Bard Advance, which is currently free, is getting a paid subscription model.

This announcement was made during Alphabet’s fourth-quarter earnings call by CEO Sundar Pichai, who shared the company’s strategy to meet the growing demand for premium AI services. Google did not disclose pricing details or a possible launch date.

Google unveiled its latest AI model, Gemini, and claimed it to be the company’s “largest and most capable AI model.” It came in three versions. Gemini Nano is for on-device performances and is presently available on Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

Bard was first announced in early 2023 as a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot (formerly known as Bing Chat).

ALSO READ: AI tools will manage time, boost work, but won’t take over jobs, Microsoft says

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