What is Bard’s future as a Google product?

Bard received a major update yesterday with a slew of new features and expanded availability. Most notable is the ability to save and pin chats, as well as have multiple conversations, with Bard’s UI being updated to support everything.

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The end result makes Bard look very much like a full-featured app rather than a website designed to house a single conversation. If you squint, this new interface is a stone’s throw away from Google Chat.

To me, the latest additions – consisting of pinned and recent chats, Google Lens integration/upload, text-to-speech, sharing conversations, modifing responses, and third-party integrations in the future – are a further sign that Bard will eventually become a product when it drops the “Experiment” label. (The alternative being that Google is just learning from Bard to improve another product down the road or even the chat experience in Search.)

However, what would Bard look like as a full-featured Google product?

For one thing, I don’t think it will be called “Bard.” It doesn’t fit the company’s penchant for naming that is very literal/descriptive and then putting “Google” in front of it.

With Google thinking of Bard as “Augmented Imagination,” calling it “Assistant” would make sense if that wasn’t the name of an existing product. As Bard matures and gets more feature-rich, I’m somewhat leaning away from my previous belief that Bard becomes the basis for a new version of Assistant.

The use case Google Assistant fills — voice commands on Android and smart home devices — is fundamentally different from what Bard is trying to do. Yes, they both try to assist, but there’s a productivity bent to Bard that fits long text inputs better than voice commands. It’s still early days for this type of service, but so far, people seem to like talking to a chatbot in a conversational manner to get things done.

Meanwhile, a future version of Bard will need a mobile experience, preferably an app. Bard.google.com on mobile web browsers is only fine today, while we’ve seen signs of a Bard widget on Pixel.

An interesting thing to explore would be if Bard became a chatbot available in Google Messages and/or Google Chat – a la Assistant in Google Allo all those years ago. Even in this scenario, I think a dedicated Bard app makes sense, especially for better multitasking and maintaining conversations. However, a conversational experience – now that the technology has matured and is more capable – in Google’s messaging apps could be genuinely useful.
In terms of access, I could see Bard remaining free, like Gmail, Docs, etc. However, if Google decided that it didn’t want to offer both Bard and “Converse” in the Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) for free, I’d say Bard is more likely to be placed behind Google One. Bard seems less monetizable with ads, as the idea of seeing sponsored results when I’m working seems a bit untrustworthy.

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