Microsoft releases free Copilot app for Android


Microsoft Corp. has released an Android app that provides access to its Copilot artificial intelligence assistant at no charge.

The app, which is known simply as Microsoft Copilot, became available today. Some observers have speculated that an iOS version could follow suit in the foreseeable future. Consumers can download and use the app without requiring a Microsoft account.

Copilot is capable of generating text, code and images based on natural language prompts. Users may include not only text but also images in prompts. A consumer could, for example, provide Copilot with a photo of a router and ask it to explain the device’s purpose.

Under the hood, Copilot is based on OpenAI’s latest GPT-4 large language model. OpenAI also provides access to GPT-4 via its ChatGPT service, but only in the paid Pro and Enterprise edition. The free version of ChatGPT, which more directly competes with Microsoft’s new Copilot app, uses a less capable model called GPT-3 that debuted in 2020.

Microsoft didn’t specify which version of GPT-4 powers the Android version of Copilot. The language model is available in two flavors: a standard version and a more advanced Turbo edition that OpenAI introduced at its DevDay product event early last month.

GPT-4 Turbo can understand user instructions more accurately than the standard version. Additionally, the model has a more up-to-date knowledge base comprising information last refreshed this past April, which further increases the quality of its output. The Turbo edition’s third major advantage over the standard version of GPT-4 is that it allows users to include significantly more information in each prompt.

The new Copilot’s app image generation features, in turn, are powered by another OpenAI AI model called DALL-E 3. Introduced this past September, it’s the latest addition to a series of AI image generators that the company launched in 2021.

OpenAI says that competing models in the category often ignore parts of the user’s prompt when receiving complex instructions. DALL-E 3 is less prone to such errors, which allows it to generate higher-quality images. Built-in guardrails prevent the model from generating harmful output or drawing in the style of a living artist.

As is the case with GPT-4, DALL-E 3 is available to consumers via not only Copilot but also OpenAI’s own ChatGPT service. However, the latter service only makes the model accessible to paid users while the Copilot implementation is free.

Microsoft has integrated Copilot into several of its core products since the AI assistant, which was originally known as Bing Chat, debuted in February. The assistant ships with Bing as well as Windows 11. The company has also included a version of Copilot in Microsoft 365, the product suite that includes the Office productivity suite, to help workers more quickly access data from business documents.

Image: Microsoft

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