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Google Bard adds Swahili as its first African language


Google today announced the expansion of Bard, its conversational AI service, to 40 new languages including Swahili – the first African language.

The expansion includes new features that allow users to better customize their experience, boost their creativity, and get more done.

With the expansion, Bard is now available in most of the world, including countries in the European Union (EU), and in the most widely spoken languages, including Swahili, Chinese, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Hindi, and Spanish. Users can now access Bard in their preferred language with text-to-speech also enabled in 8 languages.

“We’re excited that this is Bard’s largest expansion to date – we see its global availability as a great democratizer of knowledge,” said Dorothy Ooko, Head of Communications and Public Affairs, SSA, Google. “That’s why we created Bard: to help you explore that curiosity, augment your imagination and ultimately get your ideas off the ground — not just by answering your questions, but by helping you 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 also help to make Bard more inclusive and safe, through feedback from a wider range of users.

“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. This makes Bard more accessible to everyone in the region, and we believe that 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,” said Rachael Ndichu, Language Manager at Google.

As part of the expansion, the new updates launched 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. This is especially helpful if they want to hear the correct pronunciation of a word or listen to a poem or script. Users can also now adjust Bard’s responses by changing the tone and style of its responses to five different options: simple, long, short, professional or casual. This feature is live in English and will expand to new languages soon.

Google has also launched four new features to help users get more done. Users can now pin and rename their conversations with Bard, making it easier to revisit conversations that contain important information or ideas later. Through the export code to more places feature, users can now export Python code to Replit, in addition to Google Colab, making it easier for users to share their code with others or use it in other projects. Users will also be able to share responses with friends using shareable links, making it easier to collaborate on projects or get feedback on ideas. Also launched is the feature allowing users to upload images with prompts to Bard.

Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of Google’s large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide responses. As an experimental technology, Bard may occasionally make inaccurate statements in response to user prompts. So if a response from Bard is inaccurate or unsafe, if one experiences an issue, or just wants to provide feedback, there’s an easy way to do that.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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