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This is the one AI feature from Google I/O 2024 I can’t wait to use

Google Photos app on a Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Google’s main I/O 2024 keynote was jam-packed with a ton of new AI features that are coming to desktop and mobile, thanks to Gemini. There will be new ways to search Google through video and multimodal prompt requests, while smartphones eventually get AI superpowers through the camera with Project Astra.

But there’s one feature that really stuck out to me: Ask Photos with Gemini in Google Photos.

First, what is Gemini?

Google's Gemini logo with the AI running on a smartphone and a PC.
Google

First off, what is Gemini? It’s basically Google’s family of AI models, which include Gemini Nano, Gemini Pro, and Gemini Ultra. In short, it’s Google’s version of OpenAI and its own GPT models, like ChatGPT.

Gemini can understand and generate text like other large language models (LLMs), such as OpenAI’s GPT. However, Gemini can do a bit more — it understands, operates on, and combines other forms of information like images, video, audio, and even code.

For Android smartphones, it uses Gemini Nano, which operates locally on the device itself. Thanks to the Gemini Nano model, existing features like Circle to Search will be getting even better with the ability to help students with physics and math homework.

It will also be even more context-aware of what’s currently on your screen, as you’ll be able to ask Gemini questions about a video you’re watching or a long PDF that you’re browsing through rather than scrolling dozens of pages. Gemini Nano will even bring multimodal capabilities to your smartphone, like search queries with multiple requests in one.

Google's Ask Photos debut.
Google

Ask Photos with Gemini is one of the many new Gemini features announced at I/O 2024, and it will be in Google Photos later this year. Long story short, you can search through your massive photo library with a more conversational approach instead of keywords.

In the Google I/O demo, Google showed that you can just ask, “What’s my license plate again?” or “When did my daughter learn to swim?” to bring up photos that answer those requests.

It even goes a step further with requests like “Show me how my daughter’s swimming has progressed.” Queries like this make Gemini look back at your photos by date and context for an appropriate result.

As Ask Photos with Gemini was shown off on stage, I was excited, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

A parent’s AI companion

Samsung Galaxy S24 in Marble Gray showing Google Photos.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I’ve only been a mom for a little over two years. But in that time, I have taken more photos than ever before because I love to capture all of my daughter’s little moments, whether it’s just her being cute and silly or those significant milestones that I want to capture in a photo or video. With a 1TB iPhone 15 Pro, and the countless Android phones I test out, I am always taking photos of my daughter.

You may think it’s overkill — perhaps it is. But I don’t have many photos, let alone videos, of my childhood from my parents. They didn’t really capture all of my special moments, and I only have vague memories, nothing super detailed or specific. With all of the technology that we have now, it has helped me make sure that my daughter will have visual evidence of her childhood.

Though I do take photos and videos to share with family members and select friends, I mostly capture these moments because I want to look back on them later. Whether I’m just looking for a quick pick-me-up to bring a smile to my face or when I’m a senile old lady and need a walk down memory lane, I go through my visual memories quite a bit.

Moto G 5G (2024) in Sage Green showing Google Photos.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

With Ask Photos with Gemini, I can’t wait to ask it to show me my daughter’s progress with various life events. For example, we are starting her in preschool this August. I would love to ask Gemini to show me her progress throughout school or just show me all of her “first days” for each school year. Or when she learns to ride a bike, I could see her progress transitioning from training wheels to a full on bicycle. Heck, Gemini could even show me when my daughter blows out the candles on her birthday cake every year.

There are so many possibilities for me to utilize Ask Photos, but those are just a few ideas that come to mind. And while it’s great for parents for their kids’ milestones, it’s also great for other things too. I can see myself using it for my anniversaries, holidays, and even my pets.

Sure, I could go through all my photos now and search with faces and keywords. But Ask Photos with Gemini seems like a much simpler, faster, and more natural way to do that. And when you have a photo library of over 50,000 photos and videos, well, I could use an easier way to search through it.

I can’t wait to use this

Project Astra demonstration on a phone.
Google

Ask Photos is not the only Gemini AI feature that Google showed off at Google I/O 2024. And while it’s the one I’m most excited about because of its practicality, there are other exciting things I want to check out, too.

For example, Project Astra seemed intriguing. I often use my phone to capture a photo of something that I want to save for later and learn more about, like plants and flowers. But with Astra, you’ll have that AI goodness right in the camera, and it can tell you about what you’re looking at in real time. And though Google did not announce any smart glasses, Project Astra showed that this would be an incredible feature to have in smart glasses at some point.

I’m also quite eager to check out the multimodal prompt requests in Google Search powered with Gemini. I’m not the type of person to enjoy planning anything, so if Google can do the leg work for me, then I’m all for it. And though I don’t think the real-time scam alerts will be super useful for me (I never answer the phone anyway), it’s going to be a very useful feature for others.

Ask Photos with Gemini should be making its way into Google Photos later this summer, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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