Google recently launched an updated version of its note-taking app, NotebookLM, geared towards researchers, students, and anyone needing to organize gathered information. One of the key updates is the ability for users to upload Google Slides and web URLs as sources, expanding on the previously accepted Google Docs, PDFs, and text files. Additionally, the new Notebook Guide feature allows for the creation of study guides, FAQs, and briefing documents. Inline citations can now reference up to 50 sources per project, with each source capable of being 500,000 words in length. This marks a significant increase from the previous limit of five sources per project.

During a briefing with Raiza Martin, a senior product manager at Google Labs, it was emphasized that NotebookLM operates as a closed system. The app relies solely on the content provided by the user and does not conduct external web searches. This approach ensures that responses to queries about data or images originate from the user’s unique “corpus” within the platform. As a reporter, I had the opportunity to test out the updated features of NotebookLM firsthand. While the Notebook Guide feature was not immediately accessible, I was able to explore new data sources, utilize inline citations, and engage Gemini 1.5 Pro, the latest large language model powering the platform, to analyze graphs.

In my testing, I requested NotebookLM to extract data from a line graph presented in a PDF document. The app accurately provided the numerical information I sought. Furthermore, when I tasked NotebookLM with summarizing the content of the EU AI Act, it delivered a concise overview along with proper citations to indicate the information sources. However, I encountered an issue when attempting to use web URLs as sources. Despite pasting a link into NotebookLM, the model failed to display the website in the list of sources. It appears that this particular functionality may require further refinement to be fully functional.

Unlike Perplexity’s Pages, a tool advertised to assist researchers in data discovery and information sharing, NotebookLM is not designed to write research papers on behalf of users. Google has highlighted various use cases where NotebookLM has proved beneficial, including author Walter Isaacson leveraging the platform to analyze Marie Curie’s journals for an upcoming book. While NotebookLM offers advanced features for organizing and analyzing content, it is crucial to acknowledge its limitations and potential areas for improvement.

The latest updates to Google’s NotebookLM app introduce enhanced capabilities for information organization and analysis. By enabling users to incorporate Google Slides and web URLs, along with offering an expanded source limit and improved citation functionality, NotebookLM presents itself as a valuable tool for researchers and students. As development continues, addressing issues such as web URL integration will be essential to optimizing the user experience and cementing NotebookLM’s position as a leading note-taking application in the field of AI research.


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