Much of the AI technology we use today operates in huge data centers operated by cloud computing giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google. But with a technology called WebGPU that Google is now building into its Chrome browser, web apps can take advantage of AI processing more directly.
Google announced the adoption of the WebGPU during its Google I/O Conference Wednesday. With WebGPU, web apps on phones or laptops can better leverage the kinds of artificial intelligence software that sweeps everything from creative tools to health apps.
“The WebGPU makes the web AI-ready,” said Matt Waddell, who leads Chrome’s developer and consumer-focused work, in an exclusive pre-conference interview. At Google I/O, the company plans to demo a running web application Stability AI stable streaming software to turn text prompts into images, he said.
The move reflects the growing ubiquity of AI technology that has been used behind the scenes for years, but has become much more prominent with new generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing, Bard’s Google and Adobe Firefly. Google — caught off guard by ChatGPT despite its CEO Sundar Pichai Declares Google a First AI-Based Company in 2016 – races to capitalize on the excitement.
Although phone and laptop hardware are much less powerful than data center server hardware, being able to run AI locally on a device avoids network issues and can help you take control of your data. . This could be useful for companies with sensitive data or health apps whose results you want to keep private, Waddell said.
The origins of WebGPU go back years projects at Google, Apple And others which revolutionized video game hardware on the web. This allowed web applications to harness the raw power of graphics processing units, or GPUs, that only graphics-intensive video games could utilize before. The computing industry has discovered that these GPUs are also very good at accelerating AI.
AI software can also run in apps that run natively on a device, as is the case with software like Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop image-editing apps. But the acceleration of AI in web applications means developers have a better chance of taking advantage of the universality of the web platform.
“We think about a better, more powerful web platform all the time,” Waddell said.
Less hassle with browser compatibility
With the universality of the web, however, came problems, including fragmented efforts to add new browser capabilities that programmers can use. This compromises the ease of developing a website or web application that will work the same on many devices without complicated workarounds.
But also at Google I/O, the company announced a partnership with Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Edge to detail a new effort called Baseline to report the web feature developers can rely on all browsers supportingWaddell said.
The 2024 baseline is expected to arrive at the end of this year and then be continuously updated as new compatible features arrive.
Move Android Apps to the Web Faster
Another programming change emerging at Google I/O is the extended web technology called WebAssembly – Wasm for short – which promises to speed up web applications. Wasm allows programmers to translate native software to run in web browsers, powering the web version of Adobe Photoshop And Autodesk AutoCAD design software.
At Google I/O, the company plans to announce that developers can now convert apps written in Kotlin to Wasm. Since Kotlin is the most widely used language for writing Android apps, it could help Android developers reach new users on other platforms more easily.
Editors’ note: CNET uses an AI engine to create personal finance explanations that are edited and verified by our editors. To learn more, see this post.