Duolingo is introducing a new “Max” subscription tier with features powered by OpenAI’s new GPT-4 technology, the company announced on Tuesday. Duolingo Max, which costs $29.99 per month or $167.99 per year, unlocks two new AI-powered features called “Roleplay” and “Explain My Answer.” The announcement comes the same day that OpenAI released its next-generation GPT-4 AI language model.
The Roleplay feature unlocks an AI chatbot that allows users to practice real-world conversation skills with characters in the app. Users will be chatting with an AI that is both responsive and interactive, thanks to GPT-4. The feature guides users through different scenarios. For instance, you can pretend to order coffee at a café in Paris or discuss future vacation plans with a certain character in the app. After users are done with the conversation, they will get AI-powered feedback on the accuracy and complexity of their responses, as well as tips for future conversations.
Duolingo says human experts write the scenarios that users see in Roleplay, and that they make sure the initial prompt is aligned with where the user is in their course. The experts also write the initial message in the chat and tell the AI model where to take the conversation.
The Explain My Answer feature gives users the chance to learn more about their response in a lesson, whether their answer was correct or incorrect. Users can tap a button after certain exercises to enter a chat with Duo to get an explanation on why their answer was right or wrong, and ask for examples or further clarification. The company says the feature is designed to help you when you make a mistake and are unsure what the right answer would be. The feature can also help in instances where you keep making the same mistake again and you’re not sure why.
The only courses that can utilize these two new features are Spanish and French for English speakers on iOS. The company plans to roll out the new features to more courses and platforms soon.
Duolingo Max is a tier above the Super Duolingo subscription and comes with unlimited hearts, no ads and personalized review through the app’s Practice Hub. If you’re eligible to try out Duolingo Max, you can find it in the Shop tab located at the top of your screen.
Duolingo says it constantly reviews AI-generated explanations in Roleplay and Explain My Answer to ensure that the answers are factually correct and have the right tone. When Microsoft incorporated GPT-4 within Bing earlier this year, the tech giant faced backlash after users received unnerving and disturbing responses from the search engine. Microsoft noted that the chatbot could be provoked to respond outside of its “designed tone.” Duolingo likely wants to prevent a similar situation happening with its chatbot, which is why it says it’s going to ensure that the AI’s tone is fun, encouraging and occasionally snarky in true Duo fashion.
“We know that technology is never perfect (hey, neither are humans!),” the company said in a blog post. “Part of the reason we’re so excited to use GPT-4 for these features is that it’s the most accurate (and fastest) version of the technology available. We’ve spent months collaborating closely with OpenAI to test and train this technology, and will continue doing so until the mistakes are nearly nonexistent.”
Duolingo says it has spent months testing the new technology with its teams and a small group of users and was impressed by the results.
OpenAI has partnered with other companies to integrate GPT-4 into their products, including Stripe and Khan Academy. The new model is available to the general public through ChatGPT Plus, the company’s $20 monthly subscription.