Google expands testing for Gmail's new generative AI features

Google's generative AI promotional video.
(Image credit: YouTube)

Update (Mar 30, 7:55 pm ET): Google gives more trusted testers access to its new generative AI features on Workspace apps.

What you need to know

  • Google has announced its new generative AI tools coming for Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Meet, and Chat.
  • Docs and Gmail are the first to receive the new AI assistant, delivering ways of writing a job description, a formal email, and more through a single prompt.
  • These new features are rolling out to trusted testers today.
  • Trusted testers are also receiving new developing tools such as PaLM API and MakerSuite.

As the race for AI-generated content becomes quickly saturated, Google's latest announcement is about bringing that same power to its Workspace suite.

ChatGPT seemed like a bit of a "wake up" call for Google as it quickly scrambled to find a way to push back in the race for AI tools. The company has already announced the development of its own AI chatbot, "Bard." Today, Google announced the new direction its Workspace suite will be headed through the power of generative AI, beginning with Gmail and Docs.

Google's example of its new generative AI tool used in Docs.

(Image credit: Google)

The aim of this new tool is that users can simply click on it and type in whatever topic they'd be interested in writing or have the AI companion help them fill out the rest. Google states topics can range from writing a unique job description to drafting your child's birthday invitation.

There will be additional tools for users just in case they need or want to fine-tune the AI's results a little more by editing it or asking for more suggestions.

Sending the right kind of email can be a little tricky, which is why Google's generative AI helper is sliding into Gmail, as well. After testing, users will be able to write their own email and then tap the AI tool, which will show a few different ways to help you further. For example, when using the tool to "formalize" an email, the AI will take what you've written and turn it into something a little more business-appropriate if you will.

There are some additional options, such as asking the AI to expand a little more on what it's given you or to shorten it if you're looking for a quick short-form email.

Aside from Docs and Gmail, users will soon utilize Google's generative AI in Slides, Sheets, Meet, and Chat. While these new AI features will first arrive for trusted Google testers this month, there are more features within Workspace that users can expect once the testing concludes:

  • Draft, reply, summarize, and prioritize your Gmail
  • Brainstorm, proofread, write, and rewrite in Docs
  • Bring your creative vision to life with auto-generated images, audio, and video in Slides
  • Go from raw data to insights and analysis via auto-completion, formula generation, and contextual categorization in Sheets
  • Generate new backgrounds and capture notes in Meet
  • Enable workflows for getting things done in Chat

As Google looks to make its new generative AI tools useful and easy to understand by the user, it's brought in a couple of new tools: PaLM API and MakerSuite. With PaLM API, developers can build upon Google's existing language models, while MakerSuite is the avenue for prototyping ideas.

Trusted testers are also gaining access to Vertex AI with generative AI support alongside the Generative AI App Builder. Vertex AI will help developers build and deploy machine learning models and AI applications, while the App Builder can help companies create their own AI-powered chats and assistants.

While AI helpers can be quite helpful for certain aspects of life that can stump us, they're not foolproof. As Google said, "sometimes the AI gets things wrong." AI hallucinations are a real thing, as ChatGPT has suffered through it, delivering factual errors and mentions of things never even placed into the prompt.

Google still has some work to do in this department, as testing will no doubt have its own ebb and flow to get it (somewhat) right. The company has stated it will "keep the user" in control, allowing you to edit what it returns to ensure it's correct, considering "AI is no replacement for the ingenuity, creativity, and smarts of real people."


Following its initial testing phase with select "trusted testers," Google is expanding its generative AI capabilities to more Workspace users. The company also posts a tweet that links to a new landing page that explains all the new features it's bringing to Workspace apps like Docs and Gmail.

It's not clear how big this next group of "trusted testers" will be, but given that it's only been a couple of weeks since the features were launched, things must be moving along swimmingly. In fact, 9to5Google notes that Google has opened testing to the public, albeit with only a small group of testers who are invited and must opt-in to test the features.

However, it seems Google plans to continue expanding the features to more users. The landing page notes that interested users can bookmark the site and "check back regularly for updates on how to participate."

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.

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