ChatGPT-4o logo on phone

(Image credit: Future)

OpenAI had its first consumer “Spring Update” event on Monday, announcing a new GPT-4o artificial intelligence model and a major upgrade for free users of the ChatGPT platform.

Unlike its predecessor GPT-4, the new model is multimodal natively, able to understand speech and respond with speech without having to transcribe text first. This not only makes it more efficient and useful as a voice assistant — but much, much faster. We’ve got a guide on how to access GPT-4o if you want to try it out.

In addition to the new model, OpenAI has upgraded the search functionality in ChatGPT, and expanded support for uploading more file formats including video and audio and given users not paying for the Plus subscription access to GPTs and more. Here’s what you can do with GPT-4o now and what’s coming soon. 

What, when and where can I use the new ChatGPT features?

GPT-40 closeup

(Image credit: OpenAI)

The issue is not everything is available now, not everything is available to everyone and there is no way to get your name to the top of the list — you just have to wait. So here is a guide to what is available today, what is coming soon and what might take a bit longer.

GPT-4o on the web

The new multimodal model GPT-4o, or Omni (for omnimodal) is already available for many paying ChatGPT subscribers. It is available on the web, in the app and for those lucky enough to get early access — in the desktop app as well.

Some free plan users also have access and it is slowly rolling out to all users “in the coming weeks”, although those on the free plan will five times fewer messages to Omni per hour than the Plus plan subscribers. This is because Omni is a more expensive model for OpenAI to run than GPT-3.5.

Availability: Already available for most plus subscribers, slowly rolling out over the coming weeks for free ChatGPT users.

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GPT-4o macOS desktop app

OpenAI made a big deal out of its new desktop app. This will only be available for macOS and reports suggest only for devices using Apple Silicon chips and running macOS Sonoma, the current version of the operating system. Basically, only the most recent Macs.

When it is widely available OpenAI will put it on the macOS App Store, much like they already do for iOS and OpenAI will be listed as the developer — so avoid fake apps.

This app will be available “in the coming weeks” but some Plus and Teams plan users are already being given early access. They are being sent an email from OpenAI with a download link, which offers a dmg file to install on your computer.

There is a dmg file doing the rounds, which is apparently genuine. Even if that is the case and you manage to install it — you won’t be able to use it until OpenAI authorize your account.

Availability: Coming in the next few weeks for Plus and Teams subscribers and for free users after initial testing.

ChatGPT-4o Voice

There was an earlier version of ChatGPT Voice available in the iPhone and Android apps. This allowed you to converse with the AI in a relatively natural way — but it wasn’t listening to what you were saying, rather it converted it to text and analyzed that.

The latest iOS update seems to have removed this functionality from the ChatGPT app for some users, although it may be a bug as OpenAI tells me it should still be available — but only if you use the GPT-4 model, not GPT-4o. The real voice feature is coming in the next few weeks.

When we get the real voice feature, as demonstrated by Mira Murati at the Spring Update event, it will be able to converse naturally without first converting words to text. You’ll also be able to interrupt it, have it change its tone of voice and respond with emotion.

Availability: Next few weeks in “early Alpha” for Plus and Team subscribers. Free users will get a limited-access version later in the summer.

More from Tom’s Guide

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he’d much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom’s Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio – a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI – Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile’s life story than a silicon-based life form?

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