Google Bard could invade your Android homescreen — starting with Pixel phones

Google Bard AI
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google Bard has been limited to your web browser, but that could be changing real soon.

9to5Google reports that Google’s chatbot could soon invade Pixel phones in the near future. This is based on code viewed by the 9to5Google team that shows Bard buried in a future version of Android. It even looks set to get its own homescreen widget — and may not be limited to just Pixel phones. 

While we have not been able to verify the code, 9to5Google is considered reputable for such findings. It uncovered these lines of code by taking the latest version of an Android app APK and data mining it for potential new features. One thing to keep in mind with these findings is that while the code is there, its existence doesn’t guarantee that Google will ever launch this new feature.

Still, expanding access to Bard feels like a must for Google. The company is rapidly falling behind ChatGPT, which doesn’t have a mobile app but does have an API that is publicly available. This API can allow users that have some tech expertise to integrate ChatGPT’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 models into a wide variety of applications including integrating it into your iPhone with S-GPT.

Google is also falling behind its direct competitor — Bing AI. Microsoft’s chatbot is very similar to Bard, but integrates into the Bing search engine (Bard is not connected to Google Search) and is available on desktop or mobile through the Edge browser and Bing app. Plus, Microsoft just announced a ton of new upgrades to Bing AI, so the pressure is on Google to provide new AI tools.

Pixel and Bard: a smart combination? 

A picture of Google Bard running on a smartphone

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The code doesn’t make it immediately obvious whether Bard will be a standalone app or integrated into the one for Google search, but either would be a big improvement on the way Bard users access it now.

This home screen widget — which 9to5Google intriguingly says is a Pixel exclusive “at least at the start” — will apparently be more than just a one-tap shortcut to starting a new conversation. It’s not clear what it will do exactly, but the site speculates it may contain suggested prompts for conversations. Add a bit of contextual intelligence, and you could have something that’s genuinely game-changing.

So it would make a lot of sense to integrate Bard into Google’s Pixel phones in some form. Getting Bard in more places is a must for Google, even if it doesn’t rush to make Bard available to everyone just yet. Upgrading the chat with new features such as the ability to code is great, but Google’s competitors have it so you can access their chatbots through a keyboard or voice assistants like Siri.

It wouldn’t be the first time Google has given exclusive AI features to its Pixel phones. Audio transcription in the Recorder app, Google Assistant call screening and Magic Eraser are all still Pixel exclusives.

Being able to skip the queue to test Bard would follow in this tradition of being a nice little perk for Pixel owners. But while it might drive a little interest toward Google handsets, it’s unlikely to overload Bard’s currently limited capacities given the minimal market share the Pixel has

There’s a good chance we’ll see this integration unveiled at next week’s Google I/O developer conference, where we’re hoping to get a closer look at the Pixel Tablet, alongside an official unveiling of the as-yet-unannounced Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

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