Duolingo is introducing a new “Max” subscription level with features powered by OpenAI’s new GPT-4 technology, the company announced 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 on 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 chat with an AI that is both responsive and interactive, thanks to GPT-4. The feature guides users through different scenarios. For example, you can pretend to order coffee in a café in Paris or discuss future vacation plans with a certain character in the app. After users finish the conversation, they get AI-powered feedback on the accuracy and complexity of their answers, as well as tips for future conversations.
Duolingo says that human experts write the scenarios that users see in roleplay, and make sure the first prompt matches where the user is in their course. The experts also write the first message in the chat and tell the AI model where the conversation should go.
The Explain My Answer feature gives users the chance to learn more about their answer in a lesson, whether their answer was right or wrong. Users can tap a button after certain exercises to enter into a chat with Duo to get an explanation of 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 aren’t sure what the correct answer would be. The feature can also help in cases where you make the same mistake over and over again and are not sure why.
The only courses that can use 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 plan and comes with unlimited hearts, no ads, and personalized grading through the app’s practice hub. If you’re eligible to try Duolingo Max, you can find it in the Shop tab at the top of your screen.
Duolingo says it constantly uses AI-generated explanations in Role Play and Explain My Answer to make sure the answers are factually correct and have the right tone. When Microsoft included GPT-4 in Bing earlier this year, the tech giant faced backlash after users received unnerving and distressing responses from the search engine. Microsoft noted that the chatbot could be provoked to respond outside of the “designed tone”. Duolingo probably wants to prevent a similar situation from happening with its chatbot, which is why it says to make sure the AI’s tone is fun, encouraging, and sometimes snappy 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 functions is that it’s the most accurate (and fastest) version of the technology available. We have worked closely with OpenAI for months to test and train this technology, and will continue to do so until there are almost no errors.”
Duolingo says it spent months testing the new technology with its teams and a small group of users and was impressed with the results.
OpenAI is working with other companies to integrate GPT-4 into their products, including Streep and Khan Academy. The new model is available to the general public through ChatGPT Plus, the company’s $20 monthly subscription.