Google’s Duet AI is now generally available, bringing the generative AI assistant to its range of Workplace productivity apps, the company announced on Tuesday. The Duet AI features will cost $30 per user each month, putting the tool's price in line with rival Microsoft’s upcoming Copilot.
Duet AI uses genAI to assist users accessing various Workspace products. For example, it can write draft texts in Google Docs based on user prompts, generate email responses in Gmail, and organise data in the Sheets spreadsheet app. It can also take notes and summarise conversations in the Meet videoconferencing tool.
Google initially unveiled plans to add AI features to its Workspace products in March based on its large language models, promising to increase productivity by automating rote tasks. Since the Google I/O event in May, Duet AI has been accessible in public preview to users in geographies with access to a Google Workspace Labs waitlist.
Google’s Duet AI features are now available as an add-on for customers on the Google Workspace Enterprise pricing tier for an additional $30 per user each month. That’s a significant cost — although Google doesn’t publish enterprise tier pricing publicly, it’s believed to be between $27 and $36 per user per month; adding access to the AI features roughly doubles the cost per user each month.
Google plans to make the product available to customers in other tiers “in the coming months,” a spokesperson told Computerworld. A free trial is also available, though Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for details on the terms of the trial.
Duet AI is available to English-speaking users “everywhere that Google Workspace is sold,” a Google spokesperson said; support for other languages is coming available later.
The launch of Duet AI means Google has beaten Microsoft to market with genAI tools for its office software suite. Microsoft is currently trialing its own Copilot AI assistant for Microsoft 365 applications such as Word, Excel and Teams. The Microsoft 365 Copilot, based on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, will also cost $30 per user each month when it’s made available later this year or in early 2024.
“Google's choice to price Duet at $30 is surprising, given that it's the same price as Microsoft Copilot,” said J. P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester's Future of Work team. “Both offerings promise to improve employee productivity, but Google Workspace is positioned as a lower-cost alternative to Microsoft 365 in the first place. Its products contain perhaps 70% to 80% of the features of their counterparts in the Microsoft 365 office programs suite.”
However, as with Microsoft’s genAI feature, Gownder expects Duet will provide customers with improvements around productivity and employee experience, even if it’s too early to make firm judgements on either product.
“Duet, like Microsoft 365 Copilot, will help usher in a new era of productivity and collaboration software experiences,” said Gownder, enabling employees to converse with the software using complex natural language commands. “That functionality reduces the friction between humans and software and will accrue productivity benefits over the medium to long run."
The Duet pricing reflects Google’s confidence in the impact its generative AI features will have for knowledge worker productivity, said Raúl Castañón, senior analyst at 451 Research, a division of SP Global Market Intelligence. Still, he believes businesses should take a cautious approach to investing in generative AI tools.
“While [the use cases for genAI in Workspace apps] should justify the price per user, we can expect a steep learning curve for some employees,” Castañón said. “Companies may want to consider deploying in waves, starting with power users and gradually expanding to the rest of their employee base as they bring them up to speed with these new capabilities.”
Nick Patience, lead analyst for AI and machine learning for 451 Research, also weighed in, saying the Google genAI tool launch ahead of Microsoft is unlikely to affect eventual uptake of either product. But the addition of genAI features into these widely used office software suites could affect demand for more specialized GenAI vendors.
"One set of companies who may well be worried about this, however, are the text-generation specialists, who offer tools to do things like write a blog post, or write a convincing email subject line, etc.," Patience said. "Those features are rapidly being build into both Google Workplace and Microsoft 365, leaving those specialist vendors companies with a much reduced USP."
Google also talked up new Duet AI capabilities at its Google Cloud Next conference now under way in San Francisco. (This year's event marks the first time it's been held in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.)
There are several new Duet AI features for Google Meet. They include the ability to take notes and create actions during a video call with the “takes notes for me” feature; a “summary so far” option that provides a quick update on meeting discussions; and an “attend for me” option that provides a summary for those unable to join a meeting.
In Google Chat, users can interact with a Duet AI chatbot that responds to queries about content that’s been shared in the team messaging application; users can also request a summary of missed conversations and documents shared in a team’s space.
Other updates to Chat announced Tuesday include a new user interface, with updated search functionality and the addition of “huddles,” a lightweight audio and video meeting tool within Chat — similar to Slack’s Huddles feature — that users can start in Chat with one click.
There was no update, however, from Google on a release date for Sidekick — announced at Google’s I/O even in May — a chatbot assistant that summarises information across Workspace apps.
Alongside the potential to boost productivity, genAI tools can pose risks to the security and privacy of corporate data. Google stressed that customer data will not be used to train the LLMs used with its genAI functionality.
LLMs have been known to provide inaccurate information — sometimes referred to as hallucinations — that could be problematic when handling important business data. Google declined to provide details around any tools for admins to filter genAI content generated for Workspace users.
Duet AI is described by Google as “always on,” but admins have the ability to switch the functionality off for users, a spokesperson said.