Google is reportedly weighing paid AI-powered Search features

Google generative AI in Search
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

Update (April 5, 5:30 p.m. ET): Article has been updated for clarification with a statement from a Google spokesperson.

What you need to know

  • Google is considering making some of its AI features in Search locked behind a subscription. 
  • On feature, Search Generative Experience started as an experimental Search Labs feature but has since expanded to more users.
  • Google already offers premium features to subscribers through the Google One AI Premium plan, which costs $20 per month.

Google is hard at work developing artificial intelligence features, and some of them leverage the company's dominance in search. For example, Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an AI-based feature that creates summaries in response to user queries in Google Search from web results. Currently, features like SGE are free, but a new report from the Financial Times says that Google might not keep this model forever. It could make SGE or other AI features in Google Search a paid experience.

Google hasn't been shy about asking users to pay for advanced AI tools across its suite of services. Last year, the company introduced the Duet AI subscription service for business users in Google Workspace. (That subscription is now being rebranded to Gemini for Workspace.) Recently, Google started offering a consumer-level Google One AI Premium subscription for features like Gemini Advanced. It's not that big of a leap for Google to want to bring other AI tools under its umbrella of subscriptions. 

The Financial Times spoke to three people "with knowledge of [Google's] plans," who said that Google is considering adding the generative AI features in Search to its subscription services. While the report states Google is actively developing a system for subscription-based features, a decision has not been made yet.

Android Central reached out to Google for a comment, and a spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

"For years, we've been reinventing Search to help people access information in the way that’s most natural to them. With our generative AI experiments in Search, we’ve already served billions of queries, and we're seeing positive Search query growth in all of our major markets. We’re continuing to rapidly improve the product to serve new user needs. We’re not working on or considering an ad-free search experience.

As we've done many times before, we'll continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google."

Regarding any potential plans, Google said it didn't have anything to announce at the moment. However, Google's statement does not rule out paid AI Search features sometime in the future. In fact, the company expressing its desire to enhance subscription offerings may indicate that Google is leaning toward the idea.

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.