Google announced today that it is rolling out its Duet AI assistant across all of its Workspace apps, including Gmail, Drive, Slides, Docs, and more. The Duet tech has been in testing for a while, the company said, with more than a million people already kicking the tires on Google’s virtual assistant. Now, it’s coming to anyone paying for Google’s Workspace apps.
Google announced Duet AI at its I/O developer conference earlier this year, pitching the collection of features as a helpful collaborator in all your Google apps. You might ask Duet to turn your Google Docs outline into a deck in Slides or have it make a chart out of the data in a spreadsheet. Duet can also be a creative tool — you can prompt it to write an email response, generate images, or check your grammar. And you can use it to find stuff in your Drive, summarize your documents, and more. One way to think about Duet is as a mix of Clippy’s helpful work-ish demeanor and ChatGPT’s creative abilities.
Duet is also an umbrella term for a lot of app-specific features. Duet in Google Meet means AI-based lighting and sound tweaks along with automated meeting summaries; in Chat, it means automatic summaries of long threads you don’t have time to read.
The challenge for all of these tools is that the underlying AI tools aren’t perfect, or even close, and the stakes are high when you’re working with business-critical data. If Google’s Bard chatbot hallucinates a movie that doesn’t actually exist, that’s silly; if Duet misinterprets or invents your company’s sales numbers, you’re in big trouble. Duet does try to stay grounded in your data and files, but anyone relying on Google’s AI would be wise to always double-check it.
If you’re a Workspace user, Duet is going to start showing up in practically all the apps you use. In some places, it’s a separate menu, which you access by clicking the Duet icon in the top-right corner. In other places, you can ask Duet for help right from within the body of your email or document. Given Google’s penchant for putting its newest features front and center even when it annoys users — like the seemingly ever-growing Meet icons in Gmail — you probably won’t be able to ignore Duet, even if you want to.
With Duet, Google is directly challenging Microsoft, which built an AI system called Copilot with similar features that works across most Office apps. These sprawling do-everything tools are core to the future for both major office suites, and both companies believe AI has the potential to change the way we work. And if Duet and Copilot can do better than “I see you’re trying to write a resume!” we might be onto something.