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Tech News : Brave Android Browser Gets ‘Leo’ Assistant

Brave, the privacy-focused browser, has announced the introduction of Leo, its privacy-preserving AI assistant built into the browser on all Android devices.

Users Can Choose Which Model – The Mixtral LLM & Meta’s Llama 2 

Brave says its new ‘Leo’ AI assistant is powered by the open-source Mixtral 8x7B as the default large language model (LLM) which became popular among the developer community since its December release. However, it says the free and premium versions of Leo also feature the Llama 2 13B model from Meta and that users can choose from the different models according to their needs and budget. Brave also says, however, that having Mixtral as the default LLM brings “higher quality answers”. 

What Can Leo Do? 

Launched 3 months ago, subsequently achieving what Brave describes as “global adoption”, Brave says Leo can create real-time summaries of webpages or videos, answer questions about content and generate new long-form written content. Brave says it can also translate pages, analyse, or rewrite them, create transcriptions of video or audio content, and write code. Leo can also interact in multiple languages including English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

In short, it appears to be able to do what other popular generative AI chatbots can do, e.g. ChatGPT.

What’s So Different About Leo? 

With Brave being specifically a privacy-focused browser offering ad tracker blocking and no personal data collection, Brave is keen to point out that what’s different about Leo is that it’s effective generative AI, but with “the same privacy and security guarantees of the Brave browser.”   

Brave says this privacy is achieved by:

– Anonymisation via reverse proxy. Leo uses a reverse proxy that anonymises all requests, ensuring Brave cannot link any request to a specific user or their IP address.

– No data retention. Leo’s conversations are not stored on Brave’s servers, and responses are discarded immediately after generation. No personal data or identifiers (such as IP addresses) are retained. For users opting for models from Anthropic, data is held for 30 days by Anthropic before being deleted.

– No mandatory account. Users can access Leo without creating a Brave account for the free version, promoting anonymity. A premium account is optional for multi-device access.

– Privacy-enhanced subscription. Premium subscribers use unlinkable tokens for authentication, ensuring subscription details cannot be associated with their usage. The email used for account creation is also kept separate from daily use, enhancing privacy.

Free and Subscription Versions 

Although Brave says Leo is free to all users and there is no ‘mandatory’ subscription, as with other chatbots, there is a subscription version at $14.99 per month – cheaper than others like ChatGPT and Gemini Advanced. One subscription covers up to 5 different devices across Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

With other popular browsers incorporating their own AI chatbots, the pressure was on Brave to offer the same, but with the added challenge of keeping it private. Competing AI chatbots such as Google’s Gemini and ChatGPT warn users not to share private/personal details with the chatbots, acknowledging that these could possibly somehow be revealed elsewhere with the right prompts and/or may be used for training models. Also, in a world where AI chatbots (e.g. Copilot) are getting plugins that link them up with shopping apps, the potential for some kind of related data gathering through AI is there. Brave’s (Leo’s) differentiation, therefore, lies in its apparent ability to keep things private and could serve to help Brave to retain users and keep its share in the private browser world while adding value of the right kind for its users.

Early last year, competitor DuckDuckGo introduced a beta AI Wikipedia-linked instant answer ‘DuckAssist’ feature but withdrew it from private search in March last year. It was intended to help DuckDuckGo’s users to simply find factual information more quickly but also, in keeping with DDG’s privacy focus, it promised that searches were anonymous. Leo, therefore, represents a major opportunity for a private version of AI which some business users or users in sensitive sectors may prefer, but it remains to be seen how/whether the privacy protection affects the comparative quality of outputs.