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Google jumps into the AI coding assistant fray with Codey and Studio Bot


Google jumps into the AI coding assistant fray with Codey and Studio Bot

A mock-up made by Google depicting an AI assistant inside Android Studio
Enlarge / Android Studio will get a dedicated helper chatbot called Studio Bot.

During today’s I/O presentation, Google announced Studio Bot, an AI assistant that Android developers can use to help write and debug code.

Built on Codey and the revised PaLM 2 large language model, Studio Bot is only available to US developers for now and is in its “very early days,” Google said. It’s part of Android Studio, Google’s official integrated development environment (IDE) for Android devs.

This is distinct from another Codey-based project that is meant to compete directly with GitHub’s Copilot at completing and generating in-line code.

Whereas Copilot is focused on directly analyzing the user’s code and making in-line suggestions, Studio Bot behaves similarly to Bard or ChatGPT in that it is a “conversational experience” that interacts with you as a sort of advisor. A promotional video announcing Studio Bot depicted a developer asking it, “What is dark theme” (as if any self-respective developer wouldn’t know that) and then doing follow-up queries to get code snippets to implement dark theme in the developer’s app.

You don’t have to give Studio Bot any of your code to ask it things. In fact, Google’s positioning suggests that, at least for now, it’s better suited for answering general API questions and the like than digging in and helping you build stuff directly.

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Google warns in its developer-facing documentation that “Studio Bot is still an early experiment, and might sometimes provide inaccurate, misleading or false information while presenting it confidently. Studio Bot might give you working code that doesn’t produce the expected output, or provide you with code that is not optimal or incomplete.”

A brief video Google made to demonstrate an AI bot inside Android Studio.

This wasn’t the only I/O announcement relevant to developers. As noted briefly above, Google also announced plans to launch a Codey-based code generation tool that is more akin to Copilot. Codey-based tools like these work with JavaScript, Java, Python, SQL, and Go. This is part of a larger initiative to AI-ify virtually all of Google Cloud and Google’s other development tools and services over time.

Google also launched ML Hub, a repository of guidance for developers who are seeking to train and use machine learning models in their work. And a new experimental AI feature on the Play Store will allow developers to generate copy for app listings, analyze, and summarize user reviews of apps, and more.

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