Google adds first African language to Bard

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 13 Jul 2023

Google says Bard, its newly-developed conversational artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot, will now be available in 40 new languages, including Swahili – its first African language.

The chatbot will now also be available in 59 new countries and territories.

According to a statement, the expansion includes new features that allow users of the generative AI tool to better customise their experience and boost their creativity.

In February, Google announced it was testing Bard, as part of the tech giant’s continued investment in AI across the board.

The new chatbot has the ability to interact in conversational dialogue form, allowing users to ask questions and receive detailed answers, similar to ChatGPT. It draws on information from the web to provide responses.

With the latest expansion, Bard is now available in most of the world, including countries in the European Union, and in the most widely-spoken languages, including Chinese, German, Arabic, Hindi and Spanish, says Google.

Users can now access Bard in their preferred language, with text-to-speech enabled in eight languages.

“We’re excited that this is Bard’s largest expansion to date – we see its global availability as a great democratiser of knowledge,” notes Dorothy Ooko, Google head of communications and public affairs, Sub-Saharan Africa.

“That’s why we created Bard: to help users explore that curiosity, augment your imagination and ultimately get your ideas off the ground − not just by answering questions, but by helping build on them.”

According to Unesco, Swahili is among the 10 most widely-spoken languages in the world, with more than 200 million speakers.

The inclusion of more languages and territories will help to make Bard more inclusive and safer, through feedback from a wider range of users, says Google.

"The launch of Bard in Swahili is a major milestone, as it allows Bard to reach even more people in Africa, where approximately 150 million people speak Swahili,” comments Rachael Ndichu, language manager at Google.

“This makes Bard more accessible to everyone in the region, and we believe it has the potential to be a powerful tool for creativity and learning. We are excited to see how people in the region use Bard to explore their ideas and discover new things.”

As part of the expansion, the updates include ‘listen to responses’, which is available in over 40 languages and allows users to listen to Bard’s responses once they select the sound icon.

Users can also now adjust Bard’s responses by changing the tone and style of its responses to five different options.

Users can also pin and rename their conversations with Bard, making it easier to revisit conversations that contain important information or ideas later, notes Google. Users can also share responses with friends using shareable links, making it easier to collaborate on projects or get feedback on ideas.