Google's NotebookLM Expands Globally

On Thursday, Google announced the expansion of NotebookLM, its AI-driven note-taking assistant, to over 200 additional countries, following its initial launch in the U.S. nearly six months ago. Powered by Google’s multimodal LLM Gemini 1.5 Pro, the platform has been enhanced with new functionalities and language support to enable more users to utilize AI for generating summaries and posing questions based on their documents.

The expanded coverage of NotebookLM now includes countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, and the U.K., alongside 208 other countries and territories. Moreover, Google has extended language support for the interface of the AI-powered app to encompass 108 languages, including Arabic, Assamese, Bengali, Cantonese, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, and Hinglish. Additionally, it now supports source materials and chat in 38 languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, and Spanish.

NotebookLM, initially showcased as Project Tailwind at Google I/O in 2023, was initially accessible to a limited group of users starting in June of the following year. Unlike traditional AI chatbots such as ChatGPT, NotebookLM employs AI to assist in generating summaries and providing answers to questions sourced from documents, transcripts, notes, and other uploaded materials. This ensures a closer adherence to the original source content, unlike chatbots that may draw from unrelated or inaccurate data during conversation.

Google is further enhancing NotebookLM by enabling it to extract content from Google Slides and web URLs, in addition to its existing support for Google Docs, PDFs, and text files. This expanded functionality allows users to create notes or seek information about both text and image-based content within their documents or explore online resources.

While some early users in the U.S. had hoped for NotebookLM to integrate with traditional note-taking apps like Evernote and Google Keep, Raiza Martin, senior product manager for AI at Google Labs, explained in a recent virtual roundtable that Google prioritized focusing on the core value of the product before expanding integrations.

She said, “Down the road, you’ll hopefully see these types of integrations,” 

Google has introduced inline citations to enhance the user experience, allowing for easier access to supporting passages within sources. These citations aid in fact-checking AI-generated responses and provide users with the option to delve into the original text for additional context. Previously, citations were displayed below the assistant’s generated responses.

Additionally, NotebookLM now features the Notebook Guide, a tool designed to facilitate the conversion of content into different formats, such as FAQs, briefing documents, or study guides.

NotebookLM with Notebook Guide
NotebookLM with Notebook Guide.

Steven Johnson, Google Labs’ editorial director, highlighted that NotebookLM was developed in collaboration with authors, students, and educators. The company observed early adopters integrating its source-grounding architecture into their research and writing workflows.

Google stated that NotebookLM has been utilized for a variety of purposes, including creating hyperlocal newsletters, summarizing interview transcripts, developing grant proposals, and managing descriptions of fantasy worlds.

Raiza Martin emphasized that Google does not utilize any of the data uploaded by users on NotebookLM to train its algorithms.

She said, “In particular, we get this question a lot because users want to be able to use it with work or school documents,” she added, “Your data does stay private to you.”

During its Google I/O 2024 keynote in May, Google showed an early prototype of Audio Overviews for NotebookLM. This feature utilizes Google’s Gemini model to analyze uploaded materials and generate a podcast-style discussion. With Gemini 1.5 Pro, NotebookLM can accommodate up to 50 sources in each notebook, with a maximum of 500,000 words per source.

The global launch of NotebookLM is poised to position it directly against numerous platforms, primarily startups, that currently offer GenAI tools for tasks such as answering questions and summarizing PDFs. While most of these platforms require payment for their services, Google’s considerable influence enables it to provide NotebookLM for free.