The use of generative AI, machine learning algorithms that can produce images, text, or even sound, is rapidly spread across the software industry. The likes of Photoshop and Windows, plus countless others, all now sport a simple button that claims to magically do things that we simply couldn't do before. And now it's the turn of Chrome, as Google has added three AI tools to its browser, though only for US folks at the moment.
Just like all of the software giants, Google has been investing heavily in machine learning for a good while, so it was only a matter of time before the fruits of such labours would be leveraged into its applications. In the case of Chrome, the new v121 update includes a new field in the Settings page, labelled 'Experimental AI.'
Unfortunately, as a resident of the UK, I can't actually see how the options are displayed but Google says that they're in that particular section. It's also worth noting that if you're using an enterprise or educational account, then the new features will be disabled for now.
The first tool basically uses machine learning to organise all of the tabs you may have open. As someone who never has more than 15 open at any one time, it's not something I'd ever use, but if you're a tab hoarder (or someone who just never closes them), then having something that automatically suggests and creates tab groups for you could be handy.
I can't say that I'm overly convinced by how useful it really is, partly because I can't test it myself, but mostly because the task itself isn't very arduous. I mean, how many people think to themselves 'I simply cannot organise my tabs and need help from an algorithm'?
I have similar feelings about the second tool, which uses a spot of generative AI to create new themes for your Chrome account. It works just like most text-to-image models do: Type in a few words, select a few options to control how the generation process works, and then select your choice from one of six final results.
The example shown below does look pretty sweet, and it makes a change from using standard blank colours, but how often are people going to use it? Once you're past the initial novelty period, you'll probably set it once and then never change it for months, if not years.
The tool that will perhaps get used the most is the final one in the new Chrome update. It's generative AI once again and very much of the ChatGPT ilk. If you have a text field on a webpage and you need to write something quite lengthy into it, then right-click on the text box and select 'Help me write.'
After that, Google's AI servers will work their magic and churn out a body of text, based on your initial line of writing. For example, let's say you wanted to write a review about a product, you could enter 'The RoboBot 6000 is a programmable toy robot' and then, in theory, the AI model will then flesh this out into something that you can then edit and post.
Such systems are notoriously unreliable at times, and it does make me wonder how many more erroneous AI-generated posts we'll see on social media and discussion boards now that Google has added the feature into the world's most commonly used web browser.
I guess that's progress for you. If any of this sounds appealing to you, and you're based in the US, just update Chrome, restart it, and then check out the Settings menu.