In a major announcement at Google I/O 2023, Google has embarked on a significant expansion of its innovative Bard AI chatbot, making it available in 180 countries. However, despite this otherwise global deployment, Bard is conspicuously absent in the European Union (EU) and Canada.
Bard, Google’s answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, is powered by the new Palm2 Large language generative AI model. The chatbot, which recently saw enhancements such as code generation and formatting features for Gmail and Google Docs export, has broadened its reach from being available only in the US and the UK to now being offered in over 180 countries worldwide.
The chatbot now supports three languages—English, Korean, and Japanese—with plans to eventually support the world’s top 40 languages. Despite these advancements, Bard remains unavailable in any EU countries and Canada, a considerable gap in an otherwise impressive global expansion.
Though Google has not officially disclosed the reasons behind this exclusion, speculation suggests that it likely pertains to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance issues. This belief is strengthened by the recent temporary ban on ChatGPT in Italy over similar GDPR concerns.
Google hinted at such regulatory restrictions in a statement on Bard’s expansion, saying that it would expand to more countries and territories “consistent with local regulations and our AI principles.”
Another significant absence from Bard’s list of supported regions is Canada. As of now, the reasons for this omission remain unclear.
Despite these regional restrictions, Google Bard is now readily available in English, with no waitlist, in all supported regions. The chatbot also recently added support for Japanese and Korean languages, promising further language additions in the future.
Bard’s capabilities continue to evolve, with an array of new features lined up. Google plans to enable image support powered by Google Lens, allowing users to submit an image and text prompt. For instance, users could share a picture of two dogs and ask Bard to “write a funny caption about these two.”
Google is also working on integrations with first and third-party apps, including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Maps, along with external AI models like Adobe’s Firefly.
Google plans to transition Bard to Google DeepMind’s Gemini model, signaling more advancements on the horizon. Yet, the question of when or if Bard will be available in the EU and Canada remains unanswered, marking an essential area of focus for Google’s future global expansion efforts.