Google’s AI search tool just got a major upgrade — here’s what you need to know

person at desk on laptop accessing google
(Image credit: Unsplash)

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), an AI-powered version of the classic Google Search engine, just got an important upgrade. For the first time, it will include image generation and an option to draft written content for you.

SGE first launched back in May, following its unveiling at Google I/O. It’s designed as an experiment to see how generative AI capabilities can be used to improve the existing Search experience. Needless to say we’ve had a bunch of updates in the months since, including AI summaries and coding improvements — among other things. 

So it’s clear Google is in this for the long haul. Here’s what’s new this time around.

First up is the AI image generation, which uses AI to create images based on prompts supplied by the user. This is powered by Google’s own Imagen text-to-image model. After telling SGE what you want, it will display four different options in the search results, letting you view and download the images at your leisure.

google sge image genration and writing upgrades

(Image credit: Google)

This feature is also being added to image search, so if you can't find the kind of image you want using traditional search methods, Google will give you the opportunity to “create” your own. However these features will be limited to users over the age of 18, in order to curb the surge of inappropriate content we’ve seen recently.

Google also told TechCrunch that there will be some strict filtering to avoid creating images that are “harmful, misleading or explicit” — and anything else that violates its generative AI policies. The tool will also block the creation of photorealistic faces and prompts naming notable people. Though I have no doubt that people will find ways around this pretty quickly.

Finally the images will also have metadata marking them as AI-generated and visible watermarking. That should be much harder to work around.

google sge image genration and writing upgrades

(Image credit: Google)

Onto the new writing tool, which will allow SGE to produce a written draft of some kinds of content — similar to the email-generation tools already present in SGE. But this time the AI will be able to write more than just email, with settings to produce different kinds of written content. That means you can ask for long or short passages, and change the tone from serious to casual.

Both features will also come with an export tool, letting you save text to Google Docs or Gmail, while images can be saved directly to your Drive or saved as a PNG file.

These new SGE features start rolling out today, and will apparently take a few weeks to reach a wider group of users. Though it’ll only be available for people who have opted in to use SGE and live in the United States.

If you want to get involved and try these new tools, along with everything else Google has added, be sure to check out our guide on how to sign up for Google Search Labs. It’s the only way to check them out for the time being.

More from Tom's Guide

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.