What you need to know
- Google is bringing its Gemini conversational AI tool (formerly Bard) to Canada after a year-long wait.
- With Gemini, Google is also launching Gemini Advanced, which will be able to perform highly complex tasks like coding, logical reasoning, etc.
- Gemini will only be available via the web in Canada, but a Gemini app is in the works.
The Gemini era has finally taken effect in Canada. Google Bard, now being rebranded as Gemini, is available to users across the country as of Thursday, February 8. According to an announcement by Google, Gemini will be available in both English and Quebecois French, along with 40 other languages worldwide, via the Gemini website.
"With Gemini, users can collaborate with AI to prepare for job interviews, debug code for the first time, or brainstorm new business ideas. You can use features like double-check, Extensions, and image generation," said Jack Krawczyk, product lead of Gemini Experiences.
Gemini launched almost a year ago in the U.S. and has since expanded to other countries, but Google has taken a significant amount of time to bring it to Canada.
"So we know that Canadians have been waiting for this moment with anticipation, and I can tell you that we've been working really hard as a team to make it happen on a personal level," said Jules Walker, product manager for Gemini Experiences, during a call.
While we are not sure why Google took so long to bring Gemini (formerly Bard) to Canada, several speculations suggest that this could be due to the soured relationship between the company and the Canadian Government as a consequence of the Online News Act (Bill C-18). This bill requires tech giants like Google and Meta to pay a certain tax to news outlets for news content that they share or repurpose on their platforms.
Google had initially threatened to take down all news content from its platforms in Canada in response to this legislation. However, in November 2023, the Canadian government and the tech company reached an agreement that Google make annual payments to news companies in the range of $100 million CAD.
When Android Central asked Walker about the delay in expansion to Canada, he told us that there are two things that go into the process. "Number one is that the company meets with experts, policymakers, and regulators across the different sectors. Then, they make sure that these features work well in a particular language or country."
"So we're now at a point where we feel good about those two things when it comes to Canada," Walker added. However, putting certain speculations to rest, Walker reiterated that "in the context of C-18 specifically, the Government of Canada has committed to sort of addressing core issues with that legislation."
"And that, you know, has enabled us to clear the path for launching Gemini in Canada, in addition to the other work that we have to do around localization and so on."
With Gemini, Google is also launching Gemini Advanced, a new premium version of the AI with that gives users access to Ultra 1.0. Google says that the AI model will be able to perform highly complex tasks like coding, logical reasoning, following nuanced instructions, and creative collaboration.
Gemini Advanced will be available as a part of the Google One AI Premium Plan for $26.99 CAD/month, starting with a two-month free trial.
As of now, Gemini will only be available on the web for Canadian users. However, Google is launching a Gemini app that will be available to both Android and Apple users in the United States, and it will expand to other countries in the near future.
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Nandika Ravi is an Editor for Android Central. Based in Toronto, after rocking the news scene as a Multimedia Reporter and Editor at Rogers Sports and Media, she now brings her expertise into the Tech ecosystem. When not breaking tech news, you can catch her sipping coffee at cosy cafes, exploring new trails with her boxer dog or leveling up in the gaming universe.