ChatGPT Plugins are being replaced by GPTs. Here's why - and what it means for you

GPTs will do everything plugins ever did - except better. Here's a breakdown of the key differences.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
OpenAI on phone
Dilara Irem Sancar/Anadolu via Getty Images

ChatGPT Plugins are -- or should I say were? -- add-on tools developed specifically for OpenAI's ChatGPT AI-powered large language model (LLM). They were very useful, but soon ChatGPT Plugins will come to an end. OpenAI is replacing them with its newer Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPT).

As of March 19, users will no longer be able to install new plugins or start new conversations with the existing ones. However, ongoing plugin conversations will continue working until April 9, which gives you a grace period to wrap up your activities. 

Also: ChatGPT vs ChatGPT Plus: Is it worth the subscription fee?

What's that you say? You can't live without a particular plugin? OpenAI suggests you search for a GPT replacement in the GPT store, which has a search functionality that allows you to search for the name or other details about a plugin that you used.

For example, my favorite Internet search plugin was Link Reader. Fortunately, Link Reader is now available as a GPT under the new name Browser Pro

Why is OpenAI doing this? 

Simple: Developers found it much easier to build GPTs than plugins. At their most popular, plugins numbered just over 1,000, compared to hundreds of thousands of GPTs. It had become crystal clear that end users and developers alike greatly preferred GPTs.

In addition, OpenAI notes that GPTs already offered full feature parity with plugins, along with an array of new functionalities that were developed in response to user requests.

Also: ChatGPT can now read its responses aloud

You non-programmers may be wondering what the difference is between ChatGPT Plugins and GPTs. They represent two different approaches to the same goal of enhancing  AI-driven conversations and application capabilities. Here's a breakdown of the key differences:

ChatGPT Plugins

  • Integration with external services: ChatGPT Plugins allow the ChatGPT model to interact with external services and APIs. This means that the AI can fetch real-time data, perform actions like booking reservations, or retrieve information from the web directly within the conversation.

  • Extendibility: The plugin system extended ChatGPT's functionality by integrating with a wide range of third-party services and tools, effectively enabling ChatGPT to perform tasks it couldn't do on its own.

  • Customization: Developers could create custom plugins to cater to specific needs or functionalities not inherently available in ChatGPT, allowing for personalized user experiences.

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT isn't the only one worth trying


  • Self-contained AI models: GPTs are standalone AI models trained on LLMs. Based on the information they were trained on, they can generate text, answer questions, create content, and more.

  • Built-in capabilities: GPTs include browsing, DALL·E, and Code Interpreter. They also come with preset starter prompts for new and returning users. Overall, this makes it much easier to build a useful GPT than a useful plugin. 
  • Versatility and scalability: GPT models can be used with a broad spectrum of tasks without needing external data sources or APIs. In short, they reduce third-party service dependencies. 

  • Advancements in AI: The latest iterations of GPTs, such as GPT-4, offer significant improvements over their plugin predecessors in terms of understanding context, generating more accurate and nuanced responses, and minimizing biases. These improvements come from newer, advanced training techniques and larger, more diverse datasets.

  • GPT Store and customization: The GPT Store concept extends the utility of GPTs by allowing users to access a wide array of specialized GPT models tailored to specific tasks or industries. 

  • Hyper-focused GPTs: These offer enhanced features or knowledge in particular domains. For example, I use Istio Advisor Plus, a specialized GPT, to set up Istio service mesh on my cloud-native projects. I couldn't have done this with a generic AI search. 

Also: ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Copilot vs. Gemini: Which is the best AI chatbot?

To sum up, GPTs will do everything plugins ever did, except, frankly, they're better. I'll report on some of the best ones in an upcoming feature.

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