The best AI chatbots of 2024: ChatGPT, Copilot and worthy alternatives

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The best AI chatbots of 2024: ChatGPT, Copilot and worthy alternatives

 

Since the launch of ChatGPT, AI chatbots have been all of the rage because of their ability to do a wide range of tasks that can help you with your personal and work life. At your command, AI chatbots can write code, compose emails, draft a report, generate art, write Excel formulas, and much more.

ChatGPT achieved worldwide recognition, motivating competitors to create their own versions. As a result, there are many options on the market with different strengths, use cases, difficulty levels, and other nuances.

For the last year and a half, I have taken a deep dive into AI and have tested as many AI tools as possible — including dozens of AI chatbots. Using my findings and those of other ZDNET AI experts, I have created a list of the best AI chatbots on the market.

The list details everything you need to know before choosing your next AI assistant, including what it’s best for, pros, cons, cost, its large language model (LLM), and more. Whether you are entirely new to AI chatbots or a regular user, this list should help you discover a new option you haven’t tried before.

 

What is the best AI chatbot right now?

In May 2024, OpenAI supercharged the free version of ChatGPT, solving its biggest pain points and lapping other AI chatbots on the market. For that reason, ChatGPT moved to the top of the list, making it the best AI chatbot available now. Keep reading to discover why and how it compares to others like Copilot, You.com, Perplexity, and more.

The best AI chatbots of 2024

 

Pros

  • Writing skills
  • STEM knowledge
  • Conversational

Cons

  • Limits to GPT-4o
  • Boots free users down to GPT 3.5 when at capacity

ChatGPT is a conversational AI chatbot released in November 2022 by OpenAI that has been massively successful because of its advanced capabilities. It can perform writing tasks well, including composing emails, essays, poems, grocery lists, and letters, in addition to STEM tasks like writing and debugging code and solving complex math equations.

Copilot outperformed earlier versions of ChatGPT because it addressed some of ChatGPT’s biggest pain points, such as having no access to the internet and a January 2022 knowledge cutoff.

However, in May 2024, OpenAI supercharged its AI chatbot, solving all those problems and giving it some of the most competitive features on the market — primarily its latest LLM GPT-4o, which gives the chatbot web browsing, vision, data analysis, file uploads, and GPTs.

Many of the aforementioned features were limited to ChatGPT Plus, the chatbot’s subscription tier, making the recent update a huge win for free users.

Getting started with ChatGPT is easier than ever since OpenAI stopped requiring users to log in — now, you can start chatting with ChatGPT simply by visiting its website. However, if you want to access the advanced features, you must sign in, and creating a free account is easy.

ChatGPT features: Uses OpenAI’s GPT-4o or GPT-3.5 when at capacity | Can generate text, solve math problems, and code | Impressive conversation capabilities | Free to the public

 

 

 

Pros

  • Access to the internet
  • Links back to sources
  • Uses OpenAI’s LLM

Cons

  • Grounded in Bing
  • Conversation limits

In February 2023, Microsoft unveiled a new AI-improved Bing, now known as Copilot. It runs on GPT-4 Turbo, which means that Copilot has the same intelligence as ChatGPT, which runs on GPT-4o.

The only major difference between these two LLMs is the “o” in GPT-4o, which refers to ChatGPT’s advanced multimodal capabilities. These allow it to understand text, audio, image, and video inputs, as well as output text, audio, and images.

Besides that, Copilot already had most of the features the free version of ChatGPT gained in the latest update, including access to current events, attribution (or linking to the sources it retrieved from), browsing the internet, uploading images and documents, generating images, and more.

For that reason, Copilot is the best ChatGPT alternative, as it has almost all the same benefits. Copilot is free to use, and getting started is as easy as visiting the Copilot standalone website. It also has an app and is accessible via Bing.

Copilot features: OpenAI GPT-4 Turbo | Has access to the internet | Works like a search engine with information on current events | Free

 

 

 

Pros

  • Upload document support
  • Chat controls
  • Light and dark mode

Cons

  • Unclear usage cap
  • Knowledge cutoff

Anthropic launched its first AI assistant, Claude, in February 2023. Like the other leading competitors, Anthropic can conversationally answer prompts for anything you need assistance with, including coding, math, writing, research, and more.

I think the biggest advantage of this chatbot is its visual assistance. Even though ChatGPT can accept image and document inputs, I noticed that Claude can assist with interpreting images in a much faster manner.

For example, you can submit an image of handwritten notes and have them transcribed, which could be especially useful for students who write down their notes but also want to save them digitally. Similarly, it can extract text from images and convert them into any file type you want, such as a JSON file, which can be useful for web designers.

It can also accept document uploads to help read, analyze, and summarize files. To upload a file, click on the paper clip icon next to the text box and click on the document you want to upload. Then, conversationally ask for what you want help with, whether it’s summarizing the document or clarifying specific topics covered in it.

Claude is in free open beta and, as a result, has both context window and daily message limits that can vary based on demand. If you want to use the chatbot regularly, upgrading to Claude Pro may be a better option, as it offers at least five times the usage limits compared to the free version for $20 a month.

Claude features:  Powered by Claude 3 model family | Accepts document uploads | Trained with information up to 2023 | Free

 

 

 

Pros

  • Links to sources
  • Access to internet
  • simple UI

Cons

  • Paid subscription required for GPT-4 access
  • some irrelevant suggestions

Perplexity AI is a free AI chatbot connected to the internet that provides sources and has an enjoyable UI. As soon as you visit the site, using the chatbot is straightforward — just type your prompt into the “ask anything” box to get started.

A title above the textbox reads, “Where knowledge begins,” and it could not be more fitting.

When you click on the textbox, the tool offers a series of suggested prompts, mostly rooted in news. The chatbot also displays suggested prompts on evergreen topics underneath the box. All you have to do is click on the suggestions to learn more about the topic and chat about it. Additionally, Perplexity provides related topic questions you can click on to keep the conversation going.

These extensive prompts make Perplexity a great chatbot for exploring topics that you wouldn’t have thought of before, encouraging discovery and experimentation. I explored some random topics, including the history of birthday cakes, and I enjoyed every second.

Other perks include an app for iOS and Android, allowing you to tinker with the chatbot while you’re on the go. Footnotes are provided after every answer with sources you can visit, and the chatbot’s answers nearly always include photos and graphics.

Perplexity AI features: OpenAI GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 for subscribers | Has access to the internet and current events | Provides prompt suggestions to get chats started | Free

 

 

 

Pros

  • 50 different writing templates
  • Copyediting features
  • Plagiarism checker

Cons

  • Need a subscription to try
  • Steep cost

Jasper is specifically for users looking to incorporate an AI chatbot into their workflow — there is no free plan, and you can’t even access the chatbot otherwise. For example, when I tried using it myself, I was met with dead ends unless I subscribed. The least expensive option, the Creator plan, is geared towards freelancers and solo-preneurs and is $39 a month. However, the investment may be worth it if you rely on an AI chatbot to generate copy for your business.

With Jasper, you can input a prompt for what you want written, and it will write it for you, just like ChatGPT would. The major difference is that Jasper offers extensive tools to produce better copy. It can check for grammar and plagiarism and write in over 50 templates, including blog posts, Twitter threads, video scripts, and more. It also offers SEO insights and can even remember your brand voice.

Whether you are an individual, part of a smaller team, or in a larger business looking to optimize your workflow, you can access a trial or demo before you take the plunge.

Jasper features: Uses different LLMs, including GPT-4 | Summarizes texts and generates paragraphs and product descriptions | Checks for plagiarism and grammar | Starts at $39 per month with an annual subscription

 

 

 

Pros

  • Readily available
  • Free
  • Source Citing

Cons

  • Some answers stronger than others
  • Subscription required for GPT-4 access

You.com (previously known as YouChat) is an AI assistant that functions similarly to a search engine. Like Google, you can enter any question or topic you’d like to learn more about, and immediately be met with real-time web results, in addition to a conversational response.

For example, when I asked, “Can you share some pictures of adorable dog breeds?” the chatbot provided six different web links, seven different pictures it pulled from the web, a conversational answer, and related news.

The chatbot can also provide technical assistance, with answers to anything you input, including math, coding, translating, and writing prompts. Because You.com isn’t as popular as other chatbots, a huge plus is that you can hop on any time and ask away without delays.

One of the biggest standout features is that with YouPro, its premium subscription, you can toggle between the most popular AI models on the market using the Custom Model Selector.

The AI models included in Custom Model Selector include OpenAI’s GPT-4 and GPT-4 Turbo; Anthropic’s Claude Instant, Claude 2, Claude 3 Opus, Clause 3 Sonnet, and Claude 3 Haiku; Google’s Gemini Pro; and Zephyr (uncensored).

That means that, within one chatbot, you can experience some of the most advanced models on the market, which is pretty convenient if you ask me.

You.com features: GPT-4 with subscription | Lists sources for the text it generates | Unlike most other Chatbots, uses Google sources | Free

 

 

 

Pros

  • Up-to-date
  • Variety of use cases
  • Free trial

Cons

  • Need to sign in
  • A bit of a lag

Chatsonic is a dependable AI chatbot. It functions much like ChatGPT, allowing users to input prompts for assistance on many tasks.

The Writesonic platform offers tools that help generate stories, including Instant Article Writer, which creates an article from a single click; Article Rewriter, which rephrases existing content; and Article Writer 5, which generates articles using ranking competitors.

Other tools that facilitate the creation of articles include SEO Checker and Optimizer, AI Editor, Content Rephraser, Paragraph Writer, and more. There is a free version, which gets you access to some of the features, but is limited to 25 generations per day limit. The monthly cost starts at $12 but can reach $79, depending on the number of words and users you need.

Chatsonic features: Powered by GPT-3.5 or GPT-4 depending on subscription | Aware of current events, whereas ChatGPT is trained up to 2021 | Extensive feature suite, including voice dictation and image generation | Starts at $12 per month

 

 

 

Pros

  • Free
  • Access to Google
  • Good text editing skills

Cons

  • No sources
  • Can’t help much with code

Gemini is Google’s conversational AI chatbot that functions most similarly to Copilot, sourcing its answers from the web, providing footnotes, and even generating images within its chatbot. Since its initial release in March 2023, the chatbot has undergone several upgrades, with the latest version being the most optimized it has ever been.

The highlight of this chatbot is that it is rooted in Google technology, search engines, and applications. The chatbot’s UI and offerings will feel familiar to loyal Google users. For example, unlike most of the chatbots on this list, Google does not use an LLM in the GPT series but instead uses a model made by Google.

“Gemini is slowly becoming a full Google experience thanks to Extensions folding the wide range of Google applications into Gemini,” said ZDNET writer Maria Diaz when reviewing the chatbot. “Gemini users can add extensions for Google Workspace, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Flights, and Google Hotels, giving them a more personalized and extensive experience.”

If you subscribe to Google’s new ‘AI Premium Plan’, you not only get access to the most advanced Google models in Gemini, such as Gemini 1.5 Pro, but you also get access to Gemini for Workspace, previously known as Duet AI, which infuses Google’s AI assistance throughout its productivity apps, including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Meet.

Gemini features: Powered by Gemini 1.0 Pro | Includes a “Google it” feature | Generates clear text and images quickly | Free

 

 

 

Pros

  • Free
  • Educational
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Doesn’t write text
  • No desktop version

If you want your child to use AI to lighten their workload, but within some limits, Socratic is for you. With Socratic, children can type in any question about what they learn in school. The tool will then generate a conversational, human-like response with fun, unique graphics to help break down the concept.

“It’s a powerful studying tool that could help students double-check their homework, or get across the last hurdle if a question or formula just isn’t making sense. And using the app is as easy as using Snapchat or talking to Siri,” said former ZDNET contributor Jason Cipriani in his review of the app.

The app, available on the App Store and the Google App Store, also has a feature that lets your kid scan their worksheet to get a specially curated answer. The app does have some limitations; for example, it will not just write an essay or story when prompted. However, this feature could be positive because it curbs your child’s temptation to get a chatbot, like ChatGPT, to write their essay.

Socratic features: From Google | Type in any question to generate a response | Includes fun graphics | Supports scanning worksheets to get a specially curated answer | Free

 

 

 

Pros

  • Free
  • Clean UI
  • Cutomizable

Cons

  • Intermediate/advanced skills requires
  • Required to create an account

While there are evidently plenty of great options on the market, if you need a chatbot that serves your specific use case, you can always build a new one that’s entirely customizable. HuggingChat is an open-source chatbot developed by Hugging Face that can be used as a regular chatbot or customized for your needs.

As ZDNET’s David Gewirtz unpacked in his hands-on article, you may not want to depend on HuggingChat as your go-to primary chatbot. However, it is a good interface to build your own chatbot.

As Gewirtz said: “If you want something that you control, you can use HuggingChat to build a chatbot where you have visibility into every aspect of its functioning. You can choose to make that chatbot available online to other users and provide transparency to all users.”

Socratic features: Clean, Chat-GPT inspired interface | Entirely customizable | Great for developers or AI fanatics | Secure alternative | Free

 

 

 

The best overall AI chatbot is ChatGPT due to its exceptional performance, made possible by its upgrade to OpenAI’s cutting-edge GPT-4o language model, which makes it proficient in various language tasks like writing, summarization, coding, multimodality, translation, and conversation. The model also gives it access to current events.

Another advantage of the upgraded ChatGPT is its availability to the public at no cost. Despite its immense popularity and major upgrade, ChatGPT remains free, making it an incredible resource for students, writers, and professionals who need a reliable AI chatbot.

Best AI chatbots Price Language model Current events capability Key features
ChatGPT Free OpenAI’s GPT-4o (GPT-3.5 when at capacity) Up-to-date on current events; has access to the internet Can generate text, solve math problems, and do coding. Offers conversational capabilities.
Copilot Free OpenAI’s GPT-4 Turbo Up-to-date on current events; has access to the internet Works like a search engine with information on current events.
Claude Free Claude 3 Limited current events capability Users can upload documents such as PDFs to receive summaries and get questions answered.
Perplexity.ai Free OpenAI’s GPT-3 and GPT-4 (for subscribers) Up-to-date on current events; has access to the internet Can provide prompt suggestions based on current events.
Jasper Starts at $39/month Uses different LLMs, including GPT-4 Focuses on written text; has copy-editing features and plagiarism checker Can summarize texts and generate paragraphs and product descriptions. Has over 50 different writing templates including blog posts, Twitter threads, and video scripts.
You.com Free OpenAI’s GPT-4 with subscription Up-to-date on current events; has access to the internet Outputs an answer to anything you input including math, coding, translating, and writing prompts. Lists sources for the text it generates.
Chatsonic Starts at $12/month Powered by GPT-3.5. or GPT-4, depending on subscription Up-to-date on current events; has access to the internet Offers voice dictation, AI image generation, and more.
Gemini (formerly Google Bard) Free From Google Up-to-date on current events; has access to the internet via Google Can provide relevant and useful writing assistance.
Socratic Free From Google Kid-friendly; can help with homework Children can type in any question and Socratic will generate a conversational, human-like response with fun unique graphics.
HuggingChat Free HuggingFace Can have access to the Internet if you’d like to You can build your own chatbot using HuggingChat that suits your needs

 

 

 

While I think ChatGPT is the best AI chatbot, your use case may be hyper-specific or have certain demands. If you want an AI chatbot that produces clean, reliable, business-ready copy, for example, then Jasper is for you. If you want a chatbot that acts more like a search engine, Perplexity may be for you. Lastly, if there is a child in your life, Socratic might be worth checking out.

See our breakdown below:

Use this AI chatbot If you want…
ChatGPT The best AI chatbot overall and a wide range of capabilities beyond writing, including coding, conversation, and math equations.
Copilot An AI chatbot with up-to-date information on current events, links back to sources, and that is free and easy to use.
Claude The best AI chatbot if you want assistance understanding and summarizing your images and documents.
Perplexity.ai An AI chatbot that combines the best of AI chatbots and search engines to offer users an optimized hybrid experience.
Jasper An AI chatbot that offers more than 50 different writing templates, copyediting features, and a plagiarism checker making it an investment worth the monthly cost.
You.com An AI chatbot with the most advanced large language models (LLMs) available in one place for easy experimentation and access.
Chatsonic An AI chatbot that can write articles for you with its ability to offer up-to-date news and stories about current events.
Gemini An AI chatbot infused with the Google experience you know and love, from its LLM to its UI.
Socratic by Google The best AI chatbot for helping children understand concepts they are learning in school with educational, fun graphics.
HuggingChat An AI chatbot that’s best for building or exploring how to build your very own chatbot.

 

 

 

Since there are so many chatbots on the market, picking the right one can get confusing. Some factors to consider to help narrow down those options are:

  • Price
  • Large Language Model (LLM)
  • Knowledge cutoff
  • Access to the internet
  • Linking to sources
  • Best use cases

 

 

 

To curate the list of best AI chatbots and AI writers, I considered the capabilities of each program, including the individual uses each program would excel at. As an AI reporter, I was also sure to test each one myself. Other factors I looked at were reliability, availability, and cost.

  • Individual use case: AI chatbots have many use cases, often centered around productivity and ease of workflow. I included a variety that can serve as ideation, education, and content creation tools.
  • Reliability: I kept information accuracy a priority during my testing.
  • Availability: ChatGPT is popular, but not always available. I selected alternatives that don’t have a user limit and are available at all times.
  • Cost: Many of these AI programs are free, but some require monthly memberships. I included a mix of both, keeping budget-friendliness in mind.

 

 

 

An AI chatbot (also called an AI writer) refers to a type of AI-powered program capable of generating written content from a user’s input prompt. AI chatbots can write anything from a rap song to an essay upon a user’s request. The extent of what each chatbot can write about depends on its capabilities, including whether it is connected to a search engine.

 

 

 

AI chatbots use LLMs to train the AI to produce human-like responses. Some tools are connected to the web and that capability provides up-to-date information, while others depend solely on the information upon which they were trained.

 

 

 

AI chatbot programs vary in cost — some are entirely free, while others cost as much as $600 a month. Many like ChatGPT, Copilot, Gemini, and YouChat are free to use.

 

 

 

The main difference between an AI chatbot and an AI writer is the type of output they generate and their primary function.

In the past, an AI writer was used specifically to generate written content, such as articles, stories, or poetry, based on a given prompt or input. An AI writer outputs text that mimics human-like language and structure. On the other hand, an AI chatbot is designed to conduct real-time conversations with users in text or voice-based interactions. The primary function of an AI chatbot is to answer questions, provide recommendations, or even perform simple tasks, and its output is in the form of text-based conversations.

While the terms AI chatbot and AI writer are now used interchangeably by some, the original distinction was that an AI writer was used for generating static written content, while an AI chatbot was used for conversational purposes. However, with the introduction of more advanced AI technology, such as ChatGPT, the line between the two has become increasingly blurred. Many AI chatbots are now capable of generating text-based responses that mimic human-like language and structure, similar to an AI writer.

 

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