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Week in tech: Google Bard is now Gemini

Google has rebranded its generative artificial intelligence chatbot Bard to Gemini and introduced a new Gemini Android app

The Gemini logo on a smartphone arranged in New York, US, on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. Alphabet's Google said Gemini is its largest, most capable and flexible AI model to date, replacing PaLM 2, released in May.
The Gemini logo on a smartphone arranged in New York, US, on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. Alphabet's Google said Gemini is its largest, most capable and flexible AI model to date, replacing PaLM 2, released in May. (Bloomberg)

Here’s a look at what made news in the world of science and technology this week.

Google’s Gemini now available as Android app

Google’s generative artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot Bard will now be simply called Gemini, the search giant and technology company announced on 8 February. The company announced Gemini Advanced, a new experience that gives users access to Ultra 1.0, Google’s largest and most capable state-of-the-art AI model. Gemini Advanced will be available to users through a new Google One AI Premium Plan. More importantly, Google said that people can now use Gemini as an Android app on their phone. It will also be available to iOS users through the Google app. “On Android, Gemini is a new kind of assistant that uses generative AI to collaborate with you and help you get things done,” Sissie Hsiao, vice-president and general manager, Google Assistant and Bard, said in an announcement. “If you download the Gemini app or opt in through Google Assistant, you'll be able to access it from the app or anywhere else you normally activate Google Assistant — hitting the power button or corner swiping on select phones, or saying ‘Hey Google,'” Hsiao added.

January was world's warmest on record: EU scientists

After a record-breaking hottest year in 2023, European Union (EU) scientists said that January 2024 was the warmest on record. The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said on 8 February that last month surpassed the previous warmest January, which occurred in 2020, in C3S's records going back to 1950. “The exceptional month came after 2023 ranked as the planet's hottest year in global records going back to 1850, as human-caused climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon, which warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, pushed temperatures higher... Every month since June has been the world's hottest on record, compared with the corresponding month in previous years," an Associated Press report said. Read more here.

Nasa’s new satellite will study aerosol, planktons from space

Nasa’s latest satellite mission to study ocean health, air quality, and the effects climate change lifted off earlier this week. Known as PACE (short for Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem), the satellite will study microscopic life in the oceans and microscopic particles in the atmosphere to investigate key mysteries of our planet’s interconnected systems, the US space agency said in a statement. “The satellite’s hyperspectral ocean color instrument will allow researchers to measure oceans and other waterbodies across a spectrum of ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. This will enable scientists to track the distribution of phytoplankton and – for the first time from space – identify which communities of these organisms are present on daily, global scales,” Nasa added. You can read more about the PACE satellite mission in this detailed explainer.

(Compiled by Nitin Sreedhar, with inputs from agencies)

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