Google I/O 2023 live: AI reaches ‘inflection point’, CEO says, as Bard opens to all

·14-min read
Workers set up a Google display ahead of CES 2023 on 3 January, 2023 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (Getty Images)
Workers set up a Google display ahead of CES 2023 on 3 January, 2023 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (Getty Images)

Google unveiled its latest artificial intelligence offerings at its annual developers conference, alongside new products ranging from Pixel phones to the Android 14 operating system.

Google I/O 2023 offered Alphabet the chance to show what its massive investments into AI have delivered, as it seeks to take on OpenAI’s hugely popular ChatGPT chatbot.

Chief executive Sundar Pichai announced integration of Google’s generative AI into its Maps, Gmail and Search, while its Bard AI is now available for everyone without the need to join a waitlist.

Hardware announcements were also made, including a new Pixel Fold smartphone and Pixel Tablet. Updates to the Android operating system, which is used by more than 2 billion people, will also see artificial intelligence added as a key component to people’s smartphones.

The keynote was streamed on Google’s YouTube channel, which is available below, as well as all the news and updates from the event.

Key points

  • What time does Google I/O 2023 start?

Google I/O 2023: Keynote live stream

17:16 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Google has launched its live stream for the Google I/O 2023 keynote, you can watch it here:

Hello and welcome...

10:25 , Anthony Cuthbertson

to The Independent’s live coverage of Google I/O 2023. We’re expecting some major announcements at Alphabet’s biggest event of the year, with a major focus on artificial intelligence.

The tech giant has been playing catch up since OpenAI launched its ChatGPT chatbot nearly six months ago, so many will be watching its annual developer conference to see whether its Bard AI or other systems can compete.

There’ll also be all the usual flagship products, including Pixel smartphones, Nest devices and the new Android operating system. We’ll have all the latest news and updates from the event right here.

Google I/O 2023: What time does it start and how to watch the live stream

10:59 , Anthony Cuthbertson

It’s still the middle of the night in California, so we have a while to wait until Google I/O 2023 actually kicks off.

The main keynote will begin at 10am local time (6pm BST), which will be live streamed on YouTube and the I/O conference page. We’ll have a feed of it pinned to the top of this page as soon as it’s available.

Once the keynote is over there’ll be more talks and opportunities to try out all the latest hardware announced.

Seven hours still to go.


Google I/O 2023: Pixel Fold accidentally unveiled

12:56 , Anthony Cuthbertson

One of the major hardware announcements from today’s event appears to have been accidentally released early.

An unlisted video ad for a Pixel Fold was spotted by eagle-eyed members of the tech press, with 9to5Google realising that an official tweet teasing the next-generation smartphone contained a link to it.

The video, which is yet to be removed by Google’s official Made by Google channel, shows NBA stars folding and unfolding the phone while organising a watch party.

You can watch the full video here:

Google I/O 2023: OK Google, what’s an inflection point?

15:22 , Anthony Cuthbertson

This week’s IndyTech newsletter, which went out last night, was focussed on Google’s big bet on AI and what that might mean for today’s big event.

You can read the full IndyTech newsletter here - complete with weekly charts, stats and long reads - and sign up for free if you’re interested here (scroll down to Indy/Tech).

Here’s an excerpt from it, written by Tech Editor Andrew Griffin:

Despite chief executive Sundar Pichai having re-oriented the company in recent years to be focused on AI, Google did not immediately have anything of its own to offer in response to ChatGPT. It took months for Google to announce its own Bard, and it is still largely behind ChatGPT’s performance.And so Google has been stuck playing a big game of catch-up. It must be a frustrating one because Google has been working on AI for years, and has arguably integrated it in more responsible and meaningful ways than OpenAI did, but it matters very little.

Now it is facing another opportunity to switch that narrative again, in the form of its I/O developer conference, on Tuesday. (It tried to do this in February, when it announced Bard, in an event that was mostly notable because Bard was shown making a mistake about the James Webb Space Telescope.) The company will once again try and show that it is the AI company to watch, after all.

If you ask Google’s Bard what it’s going to announce tomorrow, the answers will mostly be about new hardware. There’ll be a new phone, a watch, a tablet and updates to Android, it says. (It doesn’t tell you where it got the information, so it’s presumably searching for rumours, rather than having been given any insider information from its creators. What it takes longer to say is that Google is expected to “talk about its progress on artificial intelligence and machine learning”.

That might be because the AI will actually be in the phone, and other hardware. Even now, amid the excitement about ChatGPT, we’re still hardly seeing any actual use for it in terms of consumer products.

IndyTech newsletter

Google I/O 2023: What we know about the Pixel 7a

16:08 , Anthony Cuthbertson

One of the phones expected to be announced today is the budget-focused Google Pixel 7a.

Code-named “felix”, the successor to the Pixel 6a will likely cram many of the best features from the Pixel flagships, but costing less than £400.

Rumours suggest it will be a significant upgrade to the Pixel 6a, with a 90 Hz screen, improved camera, and potentially even premium features like wireless charging and face unlock.

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

You can read everything we know about it so far in this piece here:

Google Pixel 7a: What we know about the rumoured Android phone so far

Google I/O 2023: Pixel phones, Android updates, AI unveilings and everything else to expect

17:01 , Anthony Cuthbertson

With just an hour to go until the keynote begins, here’s a rundown of the three main things we’re expecting to see announced.

New devices: The Pixel range is set to get an overhaul, ranging from the budget Pixel 7a, to the first ever folding Pixel Fold. We’ll also likely see a Pixel Tablet unveiled today.

New software: The biggest news for most phone owners will be the launch of Android 14, which will make its way onto all compatible Android devices over the coming months after debuting on the latest Pixel phones first.

Artificial intelligence: Bard AI was unveiled earlier this year, but an updated version will likely be demonstrated, along with new ways Google has integrated it with its existing products like Maps and Search. A brand new AI tool called PaLM 2 is also anticipated, rumoured to be able to pass exams in everything from computer coding and mathematics, to creative writing and critical thinking. The large language model (LLM) is also expected to be capable of operating in more than 100 languages.

Google I/O 2023: Musician and AI takes to the stage

17:37 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The live stream has started a little early, with musician Dan Deacon taking to the stage to warm up the crowd with some of his songs.

Playing in the background are some trippy visuals,presumably generated by AI.

He’s also used Google’s Bard to get some tips to create a guided meditation session. “We’re becoming mist,” he says.

Google I/O 2023: AI-generated music plays ahead of keynote

17:45 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Dan Deacon’s now playing a song that was created using Google’s AI with a single word prompt: ‘Chiptune’.

“I’ve never been in a band where the band members aren’t physical entities,” he says.

It’s kind of unsettling to listen to, a lot more jarring than the ambient techno that usually precedes these Big Tech keynotes. The song involves ducks with lips.

Google I/O 2023: Keynote begins

18:03 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Sundar Pichai takes to the stage after a typically saccharine opening video.

“We will have the chance to improve the lives of billions of people,” the voiceover of the video said.

Google I/O: Pichai plunges straight into AI

18:06 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’ve barely started and it’s already all about artificial intelligence.

“As you may have heard, AI is having a very busy year,” Pichai says.

“Seven years into our journey as an AI-first company, we are at an exciting inflection point. We have an opportunity to make AI even more helpful for people, for businesses, for communities, for everyone.”

Google I/O 2023: AI comes to Google products

18:09 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Generative AI is being integrated into Gmail and Maps and Photos.

For Gmail, the AI will compose entire emails for you with a single prompt. The example given is asking for a full refund from a flight being cancelled. Help Me Write builds on its Smart Reply and Smart Compose features.

Google I/O: Magic Editor and Magic Eraser comes to Photos

18:13 , Anthony Cuthbertson

It’s going to become a lot harder to tell what is real and what is not with Google’s new AI-enabled photo tech.

Magic Eraser, which first came to Pixel phones, will allow users to remove unwanted objects from images, while Magic Editor will allow people to add things that weren’t there in the first place.

Pichai follows this unveiling by saying Google is committed to rolling out AI responsibly. Maybe, but this tech could surely be easily misused.

Google I/O 2023: PaLM 2 unveiled

18:21 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Now on to Google’s latest large language model (LLM) PaLM 2. It’s apparently the first ever language model to perform at “expert level” on medical licensing exams.

It’s the first major collaboration between Google’s two main AI divisions: DeepMind and Brain.

“Looking back at the defining AI breakthroughs over the last decade, these teams have contributed to a significant number of them,” Pichai says.

“All this helps set the stage for the inflection point we are at today.”

Google I/O 2023: Pichai stresses importance of ‘responsible AI’ with Bard

18:23 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Sundar Pichai is still going - he seems to have a lot more stamina than Tim Cook and other tech CEOs, who have usually passed off the keynote to some of the other executives by this point.

He once again brings up responsible AI, and how this going to impact its flagship Bard AI product.

Google I/O 2023: Bard AI lets you do things ‘never before possible'

18:31 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Pichai has finally handed it over to one of his executives, Sissie Hsiao, who announces that new tools are coming to Bard.

“In the next few weeks, Bard will become more visual, both in its responses and your prompts,” she says.

This means you can “have some fun with your fur babies”, by adding AI-generated captions to pictures of your pets.

Google I/O: Waitlist for Bard AI removed

18:35 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The waitlist for Google Bard has been removed. It’ll be available in 180 different countries and regions.

It’s also on track to support 40 languages soon (currently it only supports English).

Google I/O 2023: Workspace gets AI treatment

18:42 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Aparna Pappu is now on stage to tell us about AI and Workspace - which includes Google Drive, Gmail and Calendar.

“AI can act as a coach, a thought partner, a source of inspiration, as well as a productivity booster across all of the apps of Wokspace,” she says.

These include the Help Me Write feature in Gmail and Docs, which has been used to write essays, sales pitches and product plans since it soft launched to early testers in March.

Plenty of new tools have been added since then, such as a new organisation feature in Sheets that uses AI to create spreadsheets with a single text prompt.

Google I/O 2023: Search gets major update

18:54 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Sundar Pichai is back on stage to introduce the next topic, Google’s founding product: search.

Cathy Edwards comes on to tell us how generative AI is going to be integrated into Google Search.

Its similar to Microsoft’s Bing search function, which allows users to ask questions in natural language.

“These new generative AI capabilities will make Search smarter and searching simpler,” Edwards says.

Google I/O 2023: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

19:06 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Two humans argue, “yes”, “no”, “yes”, “no”, before turning to AI to find out the answer to whether a hot dog is a sandwich or not.

No matter what Google’s newly-enabled generative AI search engine comes up with, it’s surely not as good as Sundar Pichai’s answer, who’s back on stage to give his thoughts.

“I think it’s more like a taco because the bread goes around it,” he says.

Google I/O 2023: AI responsibility once again stressed

19:16 , Anthony Cuthbertson

“There’s a natural tension between the two,” Google says.

There’s been a lot of talk about responsible AI development among regulators and lawmakers in the UK and US in recent weeks. You can read more about that here:

Google I/O 2023: From AI to Android

19:29 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Nearly an hour and a half and we’re finally hearing about something other than AI.

Sameer Samat, VP of product management for Android, comes up to tell us about Wear OS, the operating system for Android smartwatches.

WhatsApp will be coming to Watch OS this summer is the biggest announcement.

Google I/O 2023: Generative AI wallpapers

19:39 , Anthony Cuthbertson

AI can’t stay out of the spotlight for long, this time for creating original wallpapers on your Android phone.

The idea, we’re told, is that “out of the billions of Android phones out there, no other phone will be quite like mine”. A photo you take yourself would also do that.

Google I/O 2023: Pixel portfolio grows

19:46 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Pixel Watch, Pixel phones and Pixel headphones all appear to be getting updates.

The first announcement is one that’s been heavily leaked: the Google Pixel 7a.

It manages to cram a lot of the premium features of the more pricey phones into a device that’s under $500. It’ll be available from today.


Google I/O 2023: Pixel tablet to take on iPad

19:55 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Google is hoping its new Pixel Tablet can compete against the market-dominating Apple iPad. Combined with the firm’s new AI tools, the new tablet may just offer something a bit different.


Google I/O 2023: Pixel Fold unveiled

19:58 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Tablets aren’t the only large-screen device that Google is going to unveil today. Up next, the Pixel Fold.

The heavily leaked device is the thinnest foldable on the market, Google claims, packing a flagship-level phone into an ultra-slim device. This meant redesigning the entire phone.

It has three-times the screen space of a standard phone and Google claims it has the most durable hinge of any folding phone on the market.

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

Google I/O 2023: ‘Shift with AI is as big as they come'

20:12 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Sundar Pichai rejoins the proceedings to close us out with some more comments on AI.

“The shift with AI is as big as they come, and that’s why it’s so important that we make AI helpful for everyone,” he says.

“We are approaching it boldly with a sense of excitement, because as we look ahead, Google’s deep understanding of information, combined with the capabilities of generative AI, can transform search and all of our products yet again.”

And with that, he’s off. That’s goodbye from Google, and goodbye from us. Thanks for joining us.