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Google working to bring Bard AI chat to ChromeOS [Updated]

Days after unveiling its efforts on “Bard,” an AI-powered and Google Search enhanced chatbot, Google has begun working to bring Bard to ChromeOS.

Update: Google appears to be undoing some of its work related to Bard for Chromebooks.

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Use of AI chatbots has been on the rise in recent weeks, between the launch of ChatGPT and the preview release of Microsoft’s new Bing. While Google showed its own vision of the conversational search experience on Monday, the company was not yet ready to let the public test its “Bard” AI.

Today, we’ve gotten our first hints of how Google intends to integrate Bard into its products. In a new set of code changes, we find ChromeOS is preparing “Conversational Search” as an experimental feature. Judging from the name — ChromeOS has other ongoing “Launcher experiments” you can try — we believe that this particular integration for Bard will only be available to those who opt in through the chrome://flags page for the foreseeable future.

Launcher experiment: conversational search.

To evaluate the viability of a conversational search provider as part of launcher search.


Reading between the lines, “conversational search” already implies what Google has shown thus far about Bard. Elsewhere, though, we’ve found a related code change that’s simply titled “brad,” which seems like a humorous, intentional misspelling of “Bard.”

Update 2/13: Shortly after our report was published, Google began stripping back some of the work toward introducing Bard to ChromeOS. Specifically, the flag shown above has been removed, some work has been hidden from the public, and the code that mentions “brad” has been “Abandoned.”

That said, some of the relevant work still remains, meaning the effort likely hasn’t been ditched altogether. We speculate that the company simply isn’t ready for its exact plans for Bard in ChromeOS to be discovered just yet.

Digging into the code, if you have the conversational search feature enabled, ChromeOS will ditch the built-in search features of the launcher (which searches files, apps, and the web) and replace it with a chat with Bard. Things are still very much in a work-in-progress state, so it’s possible this design could change before launch.

Just as you’d expect, Bard on Chromebooks will appear as its own separate page of the ChromeOS bubble launcher — like how Google Assistant appears today — with a scrollable conversation history and a search bar, presumably used to start a new conversation.

  • Google Bard

It will be interesting to see the places that Google chooses to integrate Bard or any other conversational experience into its existing products. In the case of ChromeOS, Bard seems to be directly replacing the launcher’s Google Search integration, though there’s certainly a case to be made for Bard being integrated with Assistant.

In either case, the ChromeOS launcher doesn’t seem like the most obvious position for Google to prioritize as a launching point for its ChatGPT/Bing AI competitor. It’s possible this may speak to Google’s intention to rapidly make Bard available across multiple platforms, but this is purely speculation for now.

As Google’s work toward bringing Bard to ChromeOS is only just getting underway, it likely won’t arrive for Chromebook owners to try for themselves until version 112 in April or 113 in May at the earliest. The latter would likely see the arrival overlap with the company’s annual Google I/O conference, the timing for which has not yet been announced.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and uncovering new features.

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