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Part of the reason AI has blown up since the end of 2022—aside from it being pretty cool—is that much of it has been free to use. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up for ChatGPT or to try out Google’s AI bot, Gemini (formerly known as Bard), meaning anyone can experience the artificial intelligence hype for themselves.

However, free doesn’t pay the bills, and AI racks up a bill. Generative AI requires a lot of processing power, so the companies behind this tech are all looking for ways to fund the operation. ChatGPT has its “Plus” subscription, which gives you access more power and features, while AI art generator Midjourney offers a few pricing tiers to choose from.

Now, Google is jumping on the bandwagon. During its Q4 earnings call, the company confirmed that it had plans to roll out “Bard Advanced” to subscribers. As it turns out, Bard Advanced is really Gemini Advanced, and it’s out now, if you’re willing to pay.

What is Gemini Advanced?

Google’s AI offerings are starting to get a little complex, so here’s a breakdown: Google’s AI bot, once called Bard, is now called Gemini. That’s the interface you use when you want to chat with Google’s AI, search with generative AI, or generate images. Gemini is, essentially, Google’s version of ChatGPT.

Gemini used to be the name for what powers the AI bot: It’s Google’s LLM (large language model), and it comes in three different tiers. Pro 1.0 is the tier powering the free version of Gemini. It seems powerful and capable enough to handle many basic tasks you throw at it. Then, there’s Nano 1.0, which powers the AI features on Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

Gemini Advanced, however, runs on the third tier, Ultra 1.0, the most powerful version of Google’s LLM. Google says that Ultra is “designed for highly complex tasks and built to quickly understand and act on different types of information—including text, images, audio, video, and code.” It also compares it specifically to OpenAI’s best models, like GPT-4, claiming it beats this model in most testing categories.

Google thinks Advanced is going to be best for, well, advanced users, who want an AI system that can help with complex coding problems, hold longer and more meaningful conversations, or even generate sample quizzes on a particular subject.

How much does Gemini Advanced cost?

If you think you’ll benefit from Gemini Advanced, you’ll need to pay $19.99 per month. That puts Gemini Advanced in line with ChatGPT Plus’ pricing. However, Google is making Gemini Advanced part of its “AI Premium Plan,” which means you’ll also get other Google One perks when signing up—namely, 2TB of cloud storage.

There’s also a two-month free trial, so there’s no risk to trying Advanced if you’re curious. If you don’t find $20 worth of benefits a month, you can cancel before the trial expires.

None of this means that the free version of Google’s AI is going away. Just as there’s a free version of ChatGPT that coexists with ChatGPT Plus, Gemini and Gemini Advanced will coexist. If you don’t want to pay for a more powerful version of Bard with more features, stick with Google’s basic Gemini service. Whether you sign up for Gemini Advanced or use the free version, you’ll be able to access Google’s AI on the web, from the new Android app, or from the Google app on iOS.

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