How to sign up for Google Labs - and 5 reasons why you should

Google has plenty of experimental generative AI tools, including the newly updated NotebookLM, which you can start testing for free now.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor

When you think of Google's artificial intelligence (AI) technology, you might only think of its chatbot Gemini. However, the company has many other generative AI experiments that can help you enhance your workflow, generate music, organize your documents, and more. Although Google hasn't officially released many of these projects, you can try them out via Google Labs, the company's platform for testing ideas and products. 

One of the perks of trying the latest Google Labs experiments is that they are constantly updated to include new features, guaranteeing some unique and helpful experiences for users. For example, NotebookLM just got some major upgrades that make the AI-powered note-taking, research, and writing assistant even more useful -- and you can access those features for free via Labs. 

Also: I've tested dozens of AI chatbots since ChatGPT's debut. Here's my new top pick

Another major Labs perk is that users can provide feedback, ultimately impacting whether the experiments are deployed and what changes are made before they are released. Keep reading to learn why you should join Google Labs and how to access each experiment.

1. AI Overviews in Search 


When Google unveiled the Search Generative Experience (SGE), its AI-infused version of Google Search, you had to opt into Search Labs to get access. By opting in, you gained access to AI insights at the top of your search results page, which summarizes the information Google expects will satisfy your query. 

Also: Google's AI Overviews appear on 70% fewer Search results pages now

At Google I/O, the company announced that AI Overviews, supported by a new Gemini model customized for Google Search, are now available to everyone in the US. Even though the feature is rolling out broadly, you will get priority access if you opt into AI Overviews in Labs. So, if this feature interests you, you should sign up.

2. NotebookLM

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Last summer, Google launched NotebookLM, its "AI-first Notebook", which works with the content you input to summarize, explain, and provide key topics and questions you can ask to understand the material better.

Also: How to use Google's AI-powered NotebookLM to organize your research

You can insert a Google Doc, a PDF, Google Slides, and URLs and then ask questions about the content or have NotebookLM auto-generate content from your inputs. This feature can be helpful if you are a student. You can input all your class notes and materials into NotebookLM and the tech will help you stay organized and add AI assistance to your notes.

NotebookLM can generate study guides, briefing docs, FAQs, summaries, and more. The tech can chat with you about the content and answer any questions. To test the features out, I inserted a PDF of one of my articles, and then, within seconds, NotebookLM provided me with an accurate AI-generated summary. You can see the results in the image above. 

3. MusicFX

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

You no longer need musical expertise to generate songs. Now you can use AI to create tunes with MusicFX. 

Also: ElevenLab's AI sound effect generator has finally launched. Listen for yourself

All you need to do is type in a prompt of what you'd like to hear, and then, within seconds, your track will be available for your listening pleasure. You can even download or share your masterpiece. Be aware that MusicFX is more of a fun, experimental tool than one that will increase your productivity. 

4. Illuminate 

Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Research papers tend to be long and use a lot of technical jargon that can be difficult to understand. Illuminate is a new Google Labs experiment that aims to help you break down research papers into short audio conversations.

Also: 6 ways Apple can leapfrog OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google at WWDC 2024

Illuminate uses AI to adjust the content to your learning preferences so that you can understand the material. You can access the waitlist and learn about Illuminate by visiting Google Labs.

5. Submitting your generative AI experiment

Labs experiment submission
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

If you are a developer working on personal AI projects, you can share them with Google for a chance to be featured in the tech giant's experiment gallery. Google says: "We're looking for projects that push the boundaries of what code can do. Projects with unique visual aesthetics. Projects that help inspire other coders." The page on Labs about the opportunity includes different criteria and a form to submit your experiment's details. 


How do you join Google Labs? 

If you want to try any of these or future experiments, sign up for Google Labs. All you have to do is visit the Google Labs homepage and click on the experiment you want to try. 

Also: I was a Copilot diehard until ChatGPT added these 5 features

Depending on the experiment, the sign-up process may vary. But generally, you will be prompted to sign in to your personal Google account or create a new one. Remember to use your account as workplace accounts can block experimental features.

Other experiments have specific instructions for early users. If the experiment you signed up for has a waitlist, keep a close eye on your email, as you will be notified when you are removed from the list. 

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