Google (GOOG, GOOGL) on Wednesday debuted its new Gemini generative AI model. The platform serves as Google’s answer to Microsoft-backed (MSFT) OpenAI’s GPT-4, and according to DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, it’s the company’s “most capable and general model” yet.

Gemini is what is referred to as a natively multimodal model, meaning it can analyze text, audio, video, images, and code. While other multimodal offerings exist, Google says Gemini stands apart because the model was designed to take all of those mediums into account from the beginning.

Other platforms, the company said, train separate models to tackle things like text, video, and photos and then string them together into a single model.

This difference, according to Hassabis, means that Gemini can better understand multimodal data and produce better results for everything from handwritten content to images and videos.

As part of the announcement, Google released a series of videos demonstrating Gemini’s capabilities. In one video, a presenter showed a program running Gemini with a drawing of a blue duck as well as a rubber blue duck, both of which the AI was able to identify.

In another demonstration, the presenter showed the AI a hand-drawn picture of a roller coaster without a loop and another one with a loop. When the presenter asked which one is likely more fun, the AI said the one with the loop, which is the right answer unless you hate going around loops or on roller coasters in general.

Another example showed how parents can use Gemini to help their children with their homework. Not only is the AI able to read a student’s written answers to math questions, but it is also able to tell if they are correct or not and explain where the student went wrong and why.

On the coding front, Google said Gemini is one of the leading models for coding around, claiming that the AI can understand programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, and Go.

Google is rolling out three different versions of Gemini: Gemini Ultra, Gemini Pro, and Gemini Nano. Gemini Ultra is the top-of-the-line data center version of the AI model meant for what Google says are highly complex tasks. Gemini Pro is the mid-range version of the model, while Nano is the version designed to run on devices such as Google’s Pixel 8 Pro.

A series of servers powering Google's Gemini AI platform. (Image: Google)A series of servers powering Google's Gemini AI platform. (Image: Google)

A series of servers powering Google’s Gemini AI platform. (Image: Google) (Google)

The company says the smartphone will use Gemini Nano to power Summarize in its Recorder app, which will allow it to understand content in a recording and provide a bulleted summary. The model will also power Smart Reply in Gboard starting with WhatsApp and eventually come to other apps later next year.

Gemini Pro, meanwhile, is available as part of the English language version of Google’s Bard chatbot beginning today. The feature, Google says, will make Bard better at “understanding, summarizing, reasoning, coding, and planning.”

Next year, the company said it will roll out a version of Bard powered by Gemini Ultra called Bard Advanced.

Importantly, Google said it’s already experimenting with Gemini in Search via its Search Generative Experience, a version of Google Search that adds generative AI capabilities. According to the company, Gemini has reduced latency in the English language version of the app in the US by 40%.

Gemini will also be coming to Search, Chrome, Ads, and Duet AI in the months ahead.

Gemini is a massive undertaking for Google, serving as the company’s biggest shot at both OpenAI and its backer Microsoft.

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Ever since OpenAI debuted ChatGPT in November 2022, Google has been playing catch-up to its rivals. Microsoft has already added its GPT-powered Copilots to a number of its services, giving it an early lead in the new AI wars. But with Gemini, Google could have what it takes to make and even exceed OpenAI and Microsoft.

But what truly matters is how well the AI model integrates into Google’s products and whether that will help drive consumers to continue to take advantage of platforms like Google Search, Google Workspaces, YouTube, and other products.

And while you might not notice the changes at first, Gemini is meant as a means of securing Google’s dominance into the future. And there’s little chance OpenAI and Microsoft aren’t already preparing their own responses to Gemini.

Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He’s been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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