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Google rival Perplexity unveils enhanced Pro Search with multi-step reasoning

Perplexity may have enough on offer to challenge Google's search dominance.
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Published onJuly 3, 2024

perplexity ai play store stock image
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Perplexity has announced a major upgrade for its AI search engine.
  • The upgrade adds multi-step reasoning for complex searches and math support via Wolfram Alpha to Pro Searches.
  • Free users continue to get five Pro Searches every five hours.

Perplexity, the AI-powered search engine startup, has announced a significant upgrade to its Pro Search feature. The company says that the search engine is now capable of “multi-step reasoning” or the ability to chain together multiple online searches to find accurate results and information. The update also introduces new AI abilities such as code execution and a Wolfram Alpha integration for math solving.

While competitors like Microsoft Copilot can also search the internet, Perplexity says that its AI chatbot can handle much more complex queries. However, Pro Search remains an optional toggle that users have to manually enable on a per-conversation basis. Regular queries will continue to use Perplexity’s Quick Search instead, which studies fewer sources before responding.

Similar to ChatGPT’s GPT-4o freemium model, Perplexity offers five “Pro” searches every four hours for free. Beyond that, you’ll have to cough up for a Perplexity Pro subscription, which is priced similarly to other AI services at $20 per month.

In our testing since the feature went live a few hours ago, Perplexity Pro Search does deliver as advertised — it can provide comprehensive answers to complex questions. In the screenshot below, for example, I asked Perplexity to compare the returns of two stock indices over a ten year period while also taking into account the appreciation between currencies. This resulted in a four-step Pro Search, closely aligning with how a human would find the information.

perplexity pro search demo
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

Interestingly, we noticed that the upgraded Pro Search only worked as expected with a US-based IP address so the feature may be slowly rolling out internationally.

The upgrades to Pro Search come just weeks after Perplexity found itself embroiled in controversy over unauthorized use of content from news publishers. An investigation by WIRED suggested that the company had ignored standardized web signals intended to prevent scraping of their content. Another report claimed that Perplexity tends to rely on obscure online sources, including LinkedIn posts, which means the chatbot would find and repeat AI hallucinations.

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