Google Bard can aid your web searches, compare different things and help you plan upcoming events. And apparently spilling details about Google's upcoming product launches is also part of the AI chatbot's bag of tricks.
According to a Japanese site, a Reddit user asked Google Bard when the Pixel 7a — Google's upcoming budget phone — would be available. The chatbot responded that Pixel 6a pre-orders would begin July 20, with the phone officially going on sale a month later on August 24.
Now the last thing you should do in life is put your complete trust in newly launched chatbots, particularly when Google has warned that Bard isn't going to always have accurate answers in these early stages. "Things will go wrong," CEO Sundar Pichai told Google employees as public testing of Bard got underway this week.
Still, that's a pretty definitive answer about Google's Pixel 7a launch plans from the chatbot. It's also at odds with widespread expectations for the Pixel 7a release date.
Wait, what about Google I/O?
Most people expect a Pixel 7a preview to happen at Google I/O 2023, which is scheduled to take place on May 10. A full release of the phone would then happen later in the summer.
That's the pattern Google followed with the Pixel 6a last year, previewing the phone at Google I/O in May and then launching it on July 28 after a week of preorders for the phone.
Google Bard's reported response suggests a month-long preorder process, followed by a late August launch. Some sites reporting on the rumored dates note that a late August launch might line up with the release of Android 14, which is due out around that time. But it's worth adding that really hasn't been a consideration for Google with past Pixel A series phones, which have come out independently of Android updates.
For what it's worth, we asked Google Bard the same question about the Pixel 7a's arrival and got a much more ambiguous response. "The Pixel 7a is expected to be released in the first half of 2023," Google Bard told us. "Based on the release dates of previous Pixel A-series phones, it is likely to be announced in May 2023 and released in July 2023." Another Tom's Guide staffer posted the same query and got a wider range of possible release dates, spanning from June to August.
What we've learned from this is whatever Google Bard's strengths are, reliably leaking smartphone details probably isn't one of them.
What to expect from the Pixel 7a
When it does arrive, the Pixel 7a is expected to feature the same Tensor G2 chipset Google introduced with last fall's Pixel 7 series. Our hope is that Google holds the line on the $449 starting price for the Pixel 6a, but rumored Pixel 7a features include a display with a 90Hz refresh rate and potential camera upgrades.
That could mean a price hike, though we'd certainly expect the Pixel 7a to cost less than $500, so that it doesn't bump up against the Pixel 7's $599 starting price. The Pixel 6a is currently our best cheap phone under $500.
As for Google Bard's predictive capabilities, chalk this Pixel 7a launch forecast as part of the bumpy early stages that have also seen the chatbot compose phishing emails and admit to plagiarizing content. Our initial Google Bard impression is that the chatbot has a lot of promise, but that it's got a long way to go before it becomes a ChatGPT rival, nevermind a reliable, go-to research tool.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.