Google caused quite a stir recently when they announced Bard, their new AI chatbot aimed at rivaling the viral sensation ChatGPT. You’re probably curious to try out Bard for yourself and see what it’s capable of. Well, I’ve got good news for you! While Bard is still in a limited preview, you can sign up for the waitlist to gain access as soon as new spots open up.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about signing up for a Bard account and using the AI chatbot once you get access. I’ll also provide some tips to have the best experience conversing with Bard during the preview period. Let’s get started!
What Exactly is Bard AI and How Does It Work?
Bard is Google’s conversational AI system that’s designed to be helpful, harmless, and honest. It uses a technology called LaMDA, which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications. LaMDA is Google’s internal large language model that has been trained on massive amounts of online conversational data so that it can engage in natural-sounding dialogue.
Specifically, Bard is powered by what Google calls a “lightweight” version of LaMDA. This smaller model requires significantly less computing power but still contains LaMDA’s advanced conversational abilities. The lightweight nature allows Bard to scale up to handle many more users for testing during this preview period.
According to Google’s public statements, Bard taps into the latest information from across the web to provide thoughtful, high-quality responses to users’ questions and prompts. The key advantage they promote over ChatGPT is that Bard incorporates up-to-date real-world knowledge, rather than just data through 2021 like ChatGPT.
Of course, as an experimental prototype, Bard has major limitations right now that I’ll dig into more shortly. But on the whole, it aims to offer an AI assistant that can chat naturally on almost any general interest topic while drawing on relevant facts and data.
Can You Sign Up to Try Bard Right Now?
Unfortunately, Bard is not yet open to the general public. Google has only provided access to a small number of internal testers so far. However, they have now launched an official waitlist that allows people to sign up for a chance to preview Bard before broader release.
Here are simple steps to join the Bard waitlist:
- Go to the Bard signup page: bard.google.com
- Enter your email address and click “Join Waitlist”
- Optionally, you can also provide your country/region to be notified when Bard launches in your area.
- Once submitted, you’ll see a confirmation message that you’ve joined the waitlist.
And that’s it! Now it’s a waiting game until Google grants you access. This could take weeks or months, as they are being very cautious about scaling access during the preview.
Those on the waitlist will likely gain access on a rolling basis over time. So joining sooner rather than later gives you a better chance to get an invite as early preview spots open up.
How Did the Initial Testing Process Work?
When Bard was first announced on February 6, 2023, access was tightly restricted. The only users were Google engineers and a select group of outside testers under strict non-disclosure agreements.
These initial external testers included respected novelists, poets, scientific researchers, and other professionals from fields requiring strong communication skills. Google worked closely with them to get wide-ranging qualitative feedback.
According to spokespeople, these early testers experimented with prompts ranging from poetry composition to scientific discussion to scene writing. Their diverse needs and capabilities helped stress test Bard’s language comprehension in a controlled environment.
The private feedback process enabled rapid iteration based on the trusted testers’ real-world conversations. It provided critical input during final training before opening to more testers.
Now in the current phase, Google has expanded the preview through a “Trusted Tester” program. This grants access to a larger group of users from outside Google, without requiring NDAs.
The trusted testers are screened with an application questionnaire before gaining access to Bard. Google is starting with testers in fields like education, linguistics, and literature who have relevant experience. The expanded feedback will help refine Bard’s abilities as its audience grows.
What Information Do You Need to Provide to Sign Up for Bard?
Signing up for the Bard waitlist itself only requires an email address, and optionally your country. No other personal details are needed.
If you are selected from the waitlist to become a trusted tester, you will have to provide some additional info:
- Password: You need an existing Google account or will have to create one
- Phone number: For 2-step verification of your Google account
- Birthdate and gender: Basic biographical details
Importantly, you do not need to provide any payment information. Usage of Bard during the preview is entirely free for trusted testers.
Google states they may collect certain usage data to improve Bard. However, testers have control through account settings to delete conversations and disable logging if they wish.
How Do Testers Actually Use Bard? What’s the User Experience Like?
Once you gain trusted tester access, interacting with Bard is much like other AI chatbots:
On mobile: Open the Google search app, then look for the Bard icon on the home screen. Tap to open an interface where you simply type prompts and questions.
On desktop: Enable the “Talk to Bard” panel via Google search settings. Then buttons appear in some results to chat with Bard about that topic or page.
Either way, the conversation occurs through a familiar chat messaging interface. Each Bard response pops up as a bubble, allowing you to easily send follow-up questions and direct the dialogue.
Google product leader Johanna Wright said Bard can “entertain open-ended curiosity and help simplify complex topics.” So feel free to explore both casual discussion and serious informational queries once you gain access.
That said, there are likely usage quotas or caps during the preview, as Google stresses this is about gathering feedback, not unrestricted enjoyment. So temper your expectations until Bard officially launches.
What Kind of Questions Can You Ask Bard Right Now?
Google‘s CEO Sundar Pichai stated Bard can be helpful with everything from planning a baby shower to explaining scientific concepts to a child. Based on demos, you can generally ask Bard:
- Open-ended questions requiring multi-step explanation
- For summaries of research papers, articles, or other complex reading
- To brainstorm ideas related to creative projects or hobbies
- For up-to-date factual information on news events, science, tech, etc.
- To analyze and improve essay drafts or other written content
- For recommendations on travel, restaurants, gifts, etc. tailored to your preferences
- To have natural conversations about culture, sports, politics, and more
Essentially, almost any good-faith informational or discussion prompt is fair game. Bard aims for "human-like" conversation flow.
But do test its boundaries respectfully – Google is limiting harmful, dangerous, or illegal content. And sufficiently advanced prompts may still stump Bard in this early stage.
What Are the Biggest Limitations You’ll Encounter with Bard Right Now?
Let’s run through some key drawbacks and shortcomings to be aware of while trying out Bard in this preview period:
- Limited knowledge cut-off: Bard is more up-to-date than ChatGPT, but its knowledge still seems to lag a few months behind the present. It will miss the very latest events and findings.
- Factual inaccuracies: Given its training limitations so far, Bard still makes incorrect statements or presents opinions as facts sometimes. Take its responses with a grain of salt.
- Confined creativity: Open-ended brainstorming and highly original content creation is hit-or-miss. Bard shines more when building on existing info.
- Choppiness: Conversations may derail or grow repetitive after 5+ back-and-forths as context gets lost. Multi-topic dialogue is limited.
- Safety gaps: While better than predecessors, Bard sometimes responds inadequately to harmful prompts or allows biased content through.
- Scripted feel: Due to strict content constraints, Bard’s tone can feel formulaic and unnatural compared to ChatGPT’s more conversational style.
The key is managing your expectations here. Consider Bard an impressive AI assistant, but one that still requires human oversight on facts, reasoning, ethics, and creativity. We have a way to go before fully human-level chatbots.
When Will Bard Launch More Broadly? What‘s the Rollout Timeline?
Google has not provided an exact public launch date for Bard yet. They are taking an intentionally gradual approach to scaling access to prioritize quality and safety.
However, we can make some educated guesses on the phases based on Google’s usual playbook for product rollouts:
- Early to mid 2023: Expanded trusted tester preview to hundreds of thousands of users.
- Late 2023: Initial public beta open to millions, but still capped usage.
- Early 2024: Broader worldwide launch, but potentially geo-restricted at first.
- 2024 onward: Bard integrates into Google Search, Maps, and other products for mainstream adoption.
This is just speculation though – the actual timeline depends heavily on feedback and learnings from the extended preview period. Safety and quality issues could certainly delay the rollout.
But signing up for the waitlist now gives you the very best chance to gain early access as Google opens up additional spots over the coming months.
Are There Any Usage Restrictions You Should Know About?
Yes, Google has imposed strict usage restrictions during the preview period:
- No commercial use – You cannot use Bard to generate content for monetizable purposes like ads, products, or web content.
- Usage caps – There will likely be limits on number of conversations per day/week to manage demand.
- No downloads – Testers cannot copy or save lengthy excerpts from Bard conversations.
- Monitoring – Google will monitor conversations for quality assurance and may suspend accounts that violate policies.
- Limited access – Bard may experience downtime or be geo-restricted during the preview.
These constraints make sense given it remains an experimental product. But they mean you shouldn’t expect unfettered usage just yet – this is mainly for providing constructive feedback.
Can You Use Bard on iOS Devices Like iPhones?
Unfortunately, Bard is not available via a standalone iOS app during the preview period. On iOS, Bard is only accessible through the Google Search app.
An official iOS Bard app may arrive closer to public launch, similar to the ChatGPT rollout. But Apple‘s strict app review process means iOS users have to wait longer typically.
For now, your options on iPhone/iPad are to interact through the Google Search mobile site in Safari or another iOS browser with Bard capabilities enabled. It’s a bit clunkier, but gets the job done!
There are also early third-party iOS apps in development that promise access once approved. But for a seamless experience, Android remains the best bet during the preview.
Does Bard Work Offline Too?
No, Bard is an “online-only” AI chatbot. It requires a stable internet connection to function, unlike some AI apps that perform processing directly on your device.
Being connected to the cloud allows Bard to tap into the most up-to-date information from across the web to generate knowledgeable responses. Operating offline would cut it off from its data sources.
The processing power required for LaMDA is also too intensive currently to run locally on consumer devices. So cloud servers do the heavy lifting instead.
Hopefully in the future an offline version becomes feasible as the underlying AI models evolve and improve. But for now, make sure you have a solid WiFi or mobile data connection when using Bard.
How Much Does It Cost to Use Bard? Can You Use It for Free?
The good news is that accessing Bard is totally free for trusted testers during the preview period! Google has not announced any plans to charge for Bard once it launches widely either.
Google‘s CEO Sundar Pichai stated the company “focused on developing an AI that is helpful, harmless and honest.” So charging a fee would limit accessibility, which they want to avoid.
There will likely be free and paid tiers in the future. The paid level may offer higher usage limits for power users. But the core capabilities should remain free to maximize adoption.
As an ad-supported business, Google gains more value from having as many active Bard users as possible. That data helps improve Bard, and user growth attracts more ad spending on Google’s platform.
Of course, free access may involve occasional ads, usage quotas, or throttling. But on the whole, Bard seems likely to follow ChatGPT’s free model rather than be exclusively paid.
Should You Provide Feedback to Google During the Preview?
Absolutely! Providing high-quality feedback during this period is crucial for the continued development of Bard.
When you notice limitations, inaccuracies, biases, safety issues, or any other problems with Bard’s responses, you should swiftly report them through the in-app feedback option.
Don’t simply accept its current capabilities. Push boundaries through thoughtful probing of edge cases around language comprehension, reasoning, judgement, common sense, and more.
Constructive criticism highlighting areas for improvement is invaluable at this stage. Google even shared some examples of helpful feedback so far:
- “Bard sometimes repeats phrases even when I try to change the subject or add nuance.”
- “Bard will sometimes confidently state something false or misleading.”
- “I asked the same question two different ways and got two different answers from Bard.”
Feedback directly informs the ongoing training and fine-tuning of Bard’s knowledge gaps. So speak up if you spot any concerning failures or shortcomings! But of course, stay respectful in your phrasing and intent.
Final Thoughts on Previewing Google‘s Bard AI Chatbot
Accessing new AI like Bard during the early experimental phase is always an exciting and eye-opening experience. We’re getting a glimpse of the future!
That said, it‘s important to keep expectations measured at this point. Bard has obvious flaws and limitations that may disappoint more optimistic fans. But steady feedback and improvement will strengthen its capabilities over time.
If you get the chance to try Bard through the waitlist, take it! Have fun testing its boundaries, but focus on providing thoughtful criticism to enhance this promising new conversational AI.
The feedback from trusted testers in the months ahead will directly shape Bard’s abilities at launch and beyond. So speak up on shortcomings, but also let the positives shine through too.
Hopefully this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of signing up for and using Google’s Bard chatbot in the early preview stage. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m always happy to chat more about the fascinating world of AI.