Google puts controversial Gemini AI into Messages

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Google will now let Gemini, its AI assistant, send messages to users.

The company is adding the artificial intelligence tool to its Messages app. That means that Gemini will appear alongside friends, ready to chat with users just by texting.

When chatting with Gemini, the introduction encourages users to “draft messages” – so that people can chat with the AI system about their responses to friends, for instance. It can also be used to “brainstorm ideas, plan events or simply have a fun conversation without leaving the Messages app”, Google said.

The new update comes amid increasing criticism of Google’s Gemini AI. Last week, Google had to take parts of its functionality offline because of a controversy over the fact that it was generating racially diverse but inaccurate historical images.

Users found that asking for pictures of Nazi soldiers or the US founding fathers would generate images mostly or solely of women and people of colour, for instance. Google admitted that the tool was “missing the mark” and stopped the system from making images of people.

The introduction of Gemini into Messages is only possible on Android phones, and only available to those who are part of Google’s beta programme.

It came amid a host of new Android updates – many of which were focused on artificial intelligence. Android Auto can now automatically summarise long messages and busy chats, for instance, as well as suggesting relevant replies that can be quickly chosen when driving.

Android will also be able to generate captions for images, a feature it said had been designed “with blind and low-vision communities”. It also added new accessibility features to Google Maps, so that it can identify important locations and read information about them out loud.

Google also said that it has redesigned the Fitbit app. It will now bring together data from a variety of wearables in one place.