Google Gemini is a generative AI chatbot and Large Language Model (LLM). Rebranded from Google Bard, Gemini uses the same core Google AI algorithms, data, and general language. What’s changed (beyond the name) is how Google is making Gemini AI more widely available and integrated with your devices — and charging you for the best version. 

The mobile-based Gemini Nano, mainline Gemini Pro, and top-tier Gemini Advanced all expand on Google Bard’s original template. And the Android Gemini app is coming for Google Assistant’s position as the default voice assistant option for Android phones. 

With the Gemini AI, you can have it generate stories from prompts, give you answers to coding problems, search an uploaded image for information, or give you contextual information based on your location or data from other Google apps.

Below, we’ll break down how the different versions of Gemini work, where you can access it, whether you should pay for Gemini Advanced, and everything else you need to know. 

How Google Gemini works

Google Gemini, like Google Search, responds to questions by pulling from its own database or other sources to answer them. The difference is that Gemini tries to format its own conversational responses instead of highlighting third-party sources.

Using Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) and its open-source “Transformer” machine-learning model, Gemini “reads” trillions of words from every publicly available source — then uses it to mimic human responses.

Gemini is “purposefully limited” in terms of remembering prior questions. Eventually, Gemini will support “longer conversations,” but for now, each of your questions will be contextually isolated. 

How to access Google Gemini

Go to to access the generative AI on any device, across all available languages and countries (more on that later). 

If you’re Google account is controlled under Family Link, Google Workspace for Education, or a Workspace where your administrator hasn’t enabled Gemini, then you won’t be able to access the tool. You need a valid Google account for it to work. 

Although some Gemini tools are Pixel 8-exclusive, you can download the Google Gemini Android app to access the AI directly on most of the best Android phones. If you have Google Assistant as your default voice assistant, downloading the Gemini app will automatically make it take that default spot (so long as you’re eligible to use it).

Google also promises to offer Gemini on iPhones and iPads through the standard Google app. Google says you’ll have the option to enable Gemini under Settings > Voice in the iOS Google app; after that, the Gemini will appear as a new tab. As of publication, it’s not available yet. 

In either case, the Gemini mobile app only works in English for now; we expect Google to expand to other supported languages in time. 

Lastly, you should know how to control Gemini Extensions to other Google apps like Maps, Hotels, Flights, YouTube, and Workspace. This Gemini Extensions management page lets you toggle specific apps on and off, as needed. 

Where is Google Gemini available?

Using Google Gemini on Android

(Image credit: Future)

The standard version of the Google Gemini AI is “currently available in more than 40 languages and over 230 countries and territories,” according to a Google Support page. After Google brought Gemini to Canada after a legal delay, it has very few territories left where it doesn’t support the Gemini AI.

That said, you do need a legitimate Google account to access it, as mentioned above. You must be 18 or older in the European Economic Area (EEA), Canada, Switzerland, or the UK; in other areas, you must be at least 13 — or 14–17 in specific countries — with an unrestricted account. 

Gemini Nano, Pro, and Advanced

Multi-modal overview of Google Gemini Ultra, Pro, and Nano

(Image credit: Google)

Gemini AI works differently and has varying levels of abilities, depending on where and how you access it. 

Most Gemini processes rely on cloud computing, requiring a network connection. For smartphone applications meant to work immediately with neural processing unit (NPU) power, Google offers Gemini Nano. Available on phones like the Pixel 8 Pro, Gemini Nano powered features in the December 2023 feature drop like smart replies in Whatsapp or a summary tool for the Recorder app. 

Gemini Pro is the standard Gemini experience you get any time you ask the AI a question. Google calls it “Pro” because it’s letting developers integrate Pro into their Android apps. Samsung, for instance, has added Gemini Pro into its apps — such as Samsung Notes, Voice Recorder, and Keyboard — on the Galaxy S24 series. 

Gemini Advanced on mobile and desktop

(Image credit: Google)

Gemini Advanced pulls from an AI called Ultra 1.0 for its answers. Google says this AI is “more capable at highly complex tasks like coding, logical reasoning, following nuanced instructions, and creative collaboration.” 

Google doesn’t specify how much better Gemini Advanced does than standard Gemini, though its Gemini announcement post does explain how Ultra 1.0 specifically does better than Chat-GPT4 in areas like massive multitask language understanding (MMLU), reasoning, reading comprehension, basic and challenging math problems, and python code generation. 

Gemini Advanced AI cost

Google restricts Advanced to a $19.99 Google One AI Premium Plan, though you can get two free months of service before you have to pay.

You can’t pay for Gemini Advanced by itself, as of now.  If you’re already paying for Premium ($9.99/month), then you’ll pay just $10 more for Gemini Advanced — plus identical perks like 2TB of storage, a Google VPN, and Photos AI tricks like Magic Eraser —  with the promise of integration into other Google apps like Gmail and Docs down the road. 

Keep in mind that if you subscribe to a Google One AI Premium Family plan, only the main account user gets access to the AI; every other family member only receives benefits like extra storage and advanced Photos editing tools.

Ultimately, your choice on whether to pay for Gemini Advanced will depend on whether you use Gemini casually, professionally, or academically. If you need an AI to help you check your coding work or your homework, you might benefit from the reassurance that Gemini Ultra 1.0 is less likely to hallucinate and give you false info. 

On the other hand, that “1.0” in the name is relevant: You may want to wait until Gemini Advanced has had more time to improve before you spend money on it. 

Google Gemini (and Bard) controversy

Asking Google Bard a question on a Google Pixel 7 Pro phone

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Google Bard got off to a rocky, controversial start. While the Gemini AI rebranding is meant to shake off the bad moments, it, too, isn’t without controversy.

During the initial Google Bard reveal, it gave the wrong answer to a question during its reveal, prompting some employees to state that Google Bard had been rushed out. 

Another point of controversy came when a former Google engineer, Jacob Devlin, claimed that Google trained Bard on ShareGPT, a forum where people post the AI’s responses. And an internal source claimed that Google only stopped doing this when Devlin criticized the practice. 

Google itself says that “Bard is not trained on any data from ShareGPT or ChatGPT,” so we can’t be certain if this is true or not. 

After Bard’s launch, Google’s “Godfather of AI” quit, noting the overall dangers of AI to spread misinformation and take away people’s jobs. Google has laid off tens of thousands of workers in the past year, and cited AI policies when justifying its most recent layoffs in the engineering and ad sales teams. 

Later, we learned that the people tasked with training and improving Bard are dealing with stressful working conditions, given just three minutes to determine how accurate a response is when that answer might require significant research. 

The latest controversy is specific to Gemini, as Google swaps it in to replace Assistant. Gemini for Android users criticized missing features like podcasts, routines, and reminders. Gemini project lead Jack Krawczyk also pointed out issues like “preachy guardrails” and the need for an interpreter to understand coding responses. Of course, these kinds of issues can be expected for a major software launch; the question is how quickly Google will resolve them. 

Timeline and future upgrades

Google Bard interface

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Since Google Bard launched on March 21, 2023, Google has continued to innovate what the chatbot is capable of, leading up to the Gemini launch.

In May 2023, Google Bard began showing images from Search in responses, giving you more context for your questions. 

The following month, it allowed mobile users to provide their location data for context-sensitive results, such as asking for the best hotel or restaurant nearby. Or for those using Bard for professional work, Google added the option to export responses to Google Sheets and more intelligent responses to coding questions.

July 2023 was a major month for Google Bard, as it expanded to Europe with more than 40 new languages available, including Arabic, Chinese, German, Hindi, and Spanish. 

It also started working with Google Lens to better contextualize your uploaded photos, while also letting you change whether Bard’s responses were more casual or professional, or either long or short. 

In September, Google had Bard reach out its tendrils to sync with other major Google apps and gather more useful information. Real-time data from Maps, YouTube, Hotels, and Flights were added, as well as the option to pull from your personal Gmail, Docs, and Drive. 

Assistant with Bard Email Demo

(Image credit: Google)

October brought long-expected news: Google announced “Assistant with Bard,” a combination of the two popular platforms that would make Bard easier to access on Android phones using the usual Assistant shortcut. This would eventually become Gemini. 

That same month, Google added a neat email-summarizing tool that would help you scan through the new arrivals in your inbox, rather than having to click them one by one. 

While Google Bard was only available for adults at first, Google launched a Bard for Teens version in November that made specific results available and restricted any possible inappropriate content. Then, in December, Google preemptively restricted Bard responses to election questions to avoid accidental misinformation. 

Things slowed down for Bard until Google announced the Gemini AI in February 2024. Gemini replaced Bard as the browser-based chatbot, came to Android phones as a replacement for Google Assistant, and gained an Advanced (paid) version with better smarts. 

In the near future, the Gemini team will focus on improving the app experience and expanding it to more countries and languages. Gemini Pro should come to more Android apps, while Samsung’s Galaxy AI incorporates some of Gemini’s tricks.