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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Google Cloud Next 2024: AI Takes Center Stage with New Tools and Partnerships

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Google Cloud Next 2024 unveiled a wave of AI-powered tools for businesses. From video creation (Google Vids) to code completion (Gemini Code Assist), discover the latest innovations in Google Workspace, Vertex AI, and more.

Google’s Cloud Next 2024 event takes place in Las Vegas through Thursday, and that means lots of new cloud-focused news on everything from Gemini, Google’s AI-powered chatbot, to AI to DevOps and security. Last year’s event was the first in-person Cloud Next since 2019, and Google took to the stage to show off its ongoing dedication to AI with its Duet AI for Gmail and many other debuts, expansion of generative AI to its security product line in addition to other enterprise-focused updates and debuts.

Don’t have time to watch the full archive of Google’s keynote event? That’s OK; we’ve summed up the most important parts of the event below, with additional details from the TechCrunch team on the ground at the event. And that Tuesday’s updates aren’t the only things Google makes available to non-attendees; Wednesday’s developer-focused stream begins at 10:30 a.m. PT right here.

Google Vids

Big Tech is looking to leverage AI to help customers develop creative content, and on Tuesday, Google introduced its version. Google Vids, a new AI-fueled video creation tool, is the latest feature added to the Google Workspace.

Here’s how it works: Google claims users can make videos alongside other Workspace tools like Docs and Sheets. Editing, writing, and production are all there. You can also collaborate with colleagues in real-time through Google Vids.

Gemini Code Assist

After reading about Google’s new Gemini Code Assist, an enterprise-focused AI code completion and assistance tool, you may ask yourself if that sounds familiar. And you would be correct. TechCrunch Senior Editor Frederic Lardinois writes, “Google previously offered a similar service under the now-defunct Duet AI branding.” Then Gemini came along. Code Assist is a direct competitor to GitHub’s Copilot Enterprise.

Google Workspace

Among the new features are voice prompts to kick off the AI-based “Help me write” feature in Gmail while on the go. Another one for Gmail includes instantly turning rough email drafts into a more polished email. Over on Sheets, you can send out a customizable alert when a certain field changes. Meanwhile, a new set of templates makes starting a new spreadsheet easier. For the Doc lovers, there is support for tabs now. According to the company, this is good because you can “organize information in a single document instead of linking to multiple documents or searching through Drive.” Of course, subscribers get the goodies first.

Also Read: We All Have a Tech Stack, But Are We Using It Right?

Google also seems to have plans to monetize two of its new AI features for the Google Workspace productivity suite. This will look like a $10/month/user add-on package. One will be for the new AI meetings and messaging add-on that takes notes for you, provides meeting summaries, and translates content into 69 languages. The other is for the introduced AI security package, which helps admins keep Google Workspace content more secure.

Imagen 2

In February, Google announced an image generator built into Gemini, Google’s AI-powered chatbot. The company pulled it shortly after it was found to be randomly injecting gender and racial diversity into prompts about people. This resulted in some offensive inaccuracies. While we waited for an eventual re-release, Google came out with the enhanced image-generating tool Imagen 2. This is inside its Vertex AI developer platform, which focuses more on enterprise. Imagen 2 is now generally available and has some fun new capabilities, including inpainting and outpainting. There’s also Google’s calling “text-to-live images,” where you can now create short, four-second videos from text prompts along the lines of AI-powered clip generation tools like Runway, Pika, and Irreverent Labs.

Vertex AI Agent Builder

We can all use a little bit of help, right? Meet Google’s Vertex AI Agent Builder, a new tool to help companies build AI agents.

“Vertex AI Agent Builder allows people to very easily and quickly build conversational agents,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said. “You can build and deploy production-ready, generative AI-powered conversational agents and instruct and guide them the same way that you do humans to improve the quality and correctness of answers from models.”

To do this, the company uses a process called “grounding,” where the answers are tied to something considered to be a reliable source. In this case, it’s relying on Google Search (which could or could not be accurate).

Google calls Gemini in Databases a collection of features that “simplify all aspects of the database journey.” In less jargon, it’s a bundle of AI-powered, developer-focused tools for Google Cloud customers to create, monitor and migrate app databases.

Google renews its focus on data sovereignty

Google has offered cloud sovereignties before, but now it focuses more on partnerships than building them out independently.

Security tools get some AI love

Google jumps on board the productizing generative AI-powered security tool train with several new products and features aimed at large companies. Those include Threat Intelligence, which can analyze large portions of potentially malicious code. It also lets users perform natural language searches for ongoing threats or indicators of compromise. Another is Chronicle, Google’s cybersecurity telemetry offering for cloud customers to assist with cybersecurity investigations. The third is the enterprise cybersecurity and risk management suite Security Command Center.

Nvidia’s Blackwell platform

One of the anticipated announcements is Nvidia’s next-generation Blackwell platform coming to Google Cloud in early 2025. Yes, that seems so far away. However, here is what to look forward to support for the high-performance Nvidia HGX B200 for AI and HPC workloads and GB200 NBL72 for large language model (LLM) training. Oh, and we can reveal that the GB200 servers will be liquid-cooled.

Chrome Enterprise Premium

Meanwhile, Google is expanding its Chrome Enterprise product suite with the launch of Chrome Enterprise Premium. What’s new here is that it mainly pertains to the security capabilities of the existing service, based on the insight that browsers are now the endpoints where most of the high-value work inside a company is done.

Gemini 1.5 Pro

Everyone can use a “half” repeatedly, and Google obliges with Gemini 1.5 Pro. Kyle Wiggers writes this is “Google’s most capable generative AI model” and is now available in public preview on Vertex AI, Google’s enterprise-focused AI development platform. Here’s what you get for that half: The amount of context that it can process, which is from 128,000 tokens up to 1 million tokens, where “tokens” refers to subdivided bits of raw data (like the syllables “fan,” “tas” and “tic” in the word “fantastic”).

Open-source tools

At Google Cloud Next 2024, the company debuted several open-source tools primarily to support generative AI projects and infrastructure. One is Max Diffusion, a collection of reference implementations of various diffusion models that run on devices that run on XLA or Accelerated Linear Algebra. Then, there is Jetstream, a new engine that runs generative AI models. The third is MaxTest, a collection of text-generating AI models targeting TPUs and Nvidia GPUs in the cloud.

Axion

We don’t know a lot about this one; however, here is what we know: Google Cloud joins AWS and Azure in announcing its first custom-built Arm processor, dubbed Axion. Frederic Lardinois writes that “based on Arm’s Neoverse 2 designs, Google says its Axion instances offer 30% better performance than other Arm-based instances from competitors like AWS and Microsoft and up to 50% better performance and 60% better energy efficiency than comparable X86-based instances.”

The entire Google Cloud Next keynote

If that isn’t enough of an AI and cloud update deluge, you can watch the entire event keynote via the embed below.

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