What is Google NotebookLM and how does it work

Kerem Gülen
Aug 29, 2023
Updated • Aug 29, 2023

Google NotebookLM aims to be the future of research, bringing together a note-taking language model and artificial intelligence. But what exactly is NotebookLM, and how does it operate? Here's a comprehensive rundown.

What is Google NotebookLM?

First unveiled at Google's I/O conference in 2023 under its initial name, Project Tailwind, NotebookLM is a shift from Google's traditional offerings. Interested users were given the option to join a waitlist via Google Labs for a first-hand experience of this feature, among others.

So what sets NotebookLM apart? It's akin to ChatGPT or Google's generative search engine but operates without browsing the internet. Instead, it focuses on documents stored in your Google Drive. The tool can sift through text files and PDFs to generate summaries of major concepts and respond to queries. This helps provide a more concentrated and resourceful set of information, synthesized only from the documents you've selected.

Here's where it gets really interesting: Unlike other AI tools or even Google's generative search, NotebookLM has a particular edge in note-taking features. One such function is its ability to offer quote-level citations for each response. This feature comes in handy, especially when you're dealing with multiple sources and need to track citations rigorously.

NotebookLM takes the guesswork out of note-taking and research, streamlining the process for more accurate and effective outcomes. It's like having a research assistant that can simultaneously read all your stored documents and give you exactly what you need—minus the time-consuming manual effort.

Image source: Unsplash

Data privacy concerns

Privacy is a big concern when it comes to AI-driven tools. According to Google, your data is in safe hands. The company assures that any data collected from your NotebookLM interactions won't be used to train new AI models or shared for other users to see. However, the data may be used to improve the existing features of Google NotebookLM. Google is also open to user feedback to fine-tune the service further.

How to try NotebookLM?

At the moment, availability is limited. Google initially announced NotebookLM in a blog post dated July 12, and it seems that those who were quick to join the waitlist have already started using it. If you're eager to try it out, a waitlist is still active, with priority given to users in the United States. And if you make it, expect to have exclusive access for at least a few months.

Future potentials of NotebookLM

While Google is expanding its productivity suite with various innovations, the competition isn't asleep. Microsoft has also been integrating generative AI into its Office suite, evident with the launch of Microsoft 365 Copilot in May 2023. This assistant goes beyond basic tasks, helping users translate Word documents into Excel pivot tables, PowerPoint slides, and even enriching Teams presentations.

Google is not far behind, constantly updating its productivity services, which might be called Workspace, Drive apps, or something else depending on who you ask. Features like Smart Chips and collaborative editing views are already making work easier for Google's users. Therefore, it's logical for Google to further expand its offerings to include more comprehensive solutions like NotebookLM that work seamlessly across its entire product range.

However, it's still early days, not just for Google NotebookLM but also for other I/O unveilings like Magic Compose for texting and MusicLM for creating music. While Google's AI capabilities are impressive, they still have some catching up to do when pitted against Microsoft's advancements in generative AI. So, the tech giant certainly has its task cut out for it.


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