Featured Article : Google’s Answer To Copilot

6th September 2023

In this article, we take at what Google’s ‘Duet’ is, it’s features and potential benefits to businesses, and the price.

Duet 

Introduced in May this year, Duet AI in the Google Cloud is essentially Google’s answer to Microsoft’s Copilot. Duet is a paid-for, “always on” AI assistant and “collaborator” that is embedded within (and works across) all the Workspace apps including Gmail, Drive, Slides, and Docs, linking them together to provide value-adding synergies.

The Benefits 

Google says Duet offers a “personalised and intent-driven cloud experience” and that, just as Copilot does with Microsoft’s apps, it provides cohesions of the apps and offers users a more holistic picture of the Google Cloud. Also, being able to ask Duet for help with anything related to Google Cloud’s apps on demand saves time and makes Google Cloud more accessible (and personal) to any type of user at any skill level.

Examples Of What It Can Do 

Some examples of what Duet can do include:

– Providing recommendations for building and operating apps with Google Cloud (Codey, one of the models that powers Duet AI has been pre-trained with the necessary code). For example, Duet AI for AppSheet lets users create business applications, connect their data, and build workflows into Google Workspace via natural language, all with no coding required and with users simply needing to describe their needs for apps in a chat guided by AI-powered prompts.

– Giving code recommendations, generating full functions and code blocks, and identifying vulnerabilities and errors in the code, while suggesting fixes.

– Creating slides for a presentation from Google Docs or make charts from data in spreadsheets.

– Writing email responses (Duet is embedded in Gmail), summarising documents, checking grammar, and generating images, e.g. custom visuals in Slides.

– Summarising long threads in Chat, providing automated meeting summaries in Meet, and allowing users to easily alter sound and visuals in Meet with studio look, studio lighting, and studio sound. Duet can also provide dynamic tiles (a named tile) and face detection for Meet attendees.

– Giving real-time chat assistance on various topics, e.g. how to use certain cloud services or functions, and giving detailed implementation plans for cloud projects.

When? 

From May it’s only been available to a limited number of Google Cloud users with others being invited to sign-up via Google Cloud’s AI Trusted Tester Program. However, Google announced on August 29 that Duet AI for Google Workspace is generally available now as a “no-cost trial”.

How Much? 

Google says, for larger organisations, Duet is priced at $30 per user (on top of the existing Workspace subscription), the same price as Microsoft’s Copilot.

Will It Really Work? 

Although Google Workspace has 3 billion users and more than 10 million paying customers, Google says Duet has so far been used by just thousands of companies and “more than a million trusted testers”. This means it’s still early days when you compare it to ChatGPT which was released 9 months before and has around 100 million users and had 1.6 billion visits to its site in June. That said, when Copilot was announced back in March, Microsoft said it was only being tested by 20 customers (although these included 8 within Fortune 500 enterprises).

The point is, however, anyone who’s used generative AI knows it can’t be trusted 100 per cent, and sometimes gets things wrong / makes things up so a reality check, the right prompts, and a good period of widespread use (and, therefore, more training) are needed to improve the outputs of AI work assistants like these. It should, however remembered, that Duet is mainly designed and focused specifically on working with Google Clouds apps so, hopefully, it should be relatively reliable.

Plans For More 

As with Copilot, Google says there’s plans to expand the capabilities of Duet with Google’s Workspace.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Google’s keen to points out that Duet enables users to “get back to the best parts of their jobs, to the parts that rely on human creativity, ingenuity, and expertise” by simplifying and speeding up the parts that would have taken time trawling through data and manually summarising and putting reports, visuals, and other things together.

Like Copilot, some of the main advantages of Duet are that it allows business users to get more value from the synergies of making more holistic use of many Google apps, i.e. it provides an instant, on-demand, flexible, and effective way to get much more out the most popular apps.

As with Microsoft’s Copilot, businesses using Google’s Duet can save time, be more creative with IT, boost productivity, upskill staff in IT (without spending on training), and get greater and perhaps new insights into their own business and operations.

All this, however, comes at the price of $30 per user which (as with Copilot which is the same price) has been criticised by some for being quite expensive. Since we’re still at the very early stages of businesses trying and using Copilot and now Duet, plus with businesses wanting to protect the source of any competitive advantages, it’s not easy to find any clear information of how much of a boost to productivity and profits either are, so making the decision to take the plunge may be based more on price which (at the moment) may not be particularly attractive. That said, Duet does offer some tempting capabilities and potential benefits to businesses.