ChatGPT can now browse the web in real time with plugins

24 Mar 2023

Image: © sofirinaja/

Companies including Klarna, Expedia, Shopify and Slack have started exploring ChatGPT plugins to enhance customer experience in their services.

ChatGPT is getting a major upgrade that will address one of the OpenAI chatbot’s biggest weaknesses so far: the inability to access real-time information from the internet.

OpenAI is adding support for plugins to ChatGPT that will expand its capabilities, including the introduction of a web browser and code interpreter.

“We’ve also open-sourced the code for a knowledge base retrieval plugin, to be self-hosted by any developer with information with which they’d like to augment ChatGPT,” OpenAI wrote in an announcement on its website yesterday (23 March).

Some of the major businesses that have already created plugins for the language model include Expedia, Instacart, Klarna, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Wolfram and Zapier.

Swedish ‘buy now, pay later’ pioneer, Klarna, said it was one of the first brands to work with OpenAI and use its protocol to build an integrated plugin for its platform. This gives its users a more personalised experience with the ability to ask questions while shopping.

“I’m super excited about our plugin with ChatGPT because it passes my ‘north star’ criteria that I call my ‘mom test’, i.e. would my mom understand and benefit from this,” Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder and CEO of Klarna, wrote in a statement.

“And it does because it’s easy to use and genuinely solves a ton of problems – it drives tremendous value for everyone.”

OpenAI said it has begun extending plugin alpha access to users and developers from their waitlist. While a small number of developers and ChatGPT Plus users will be prioritised initially, the Microsoft-backed company plans to roll out larger-scale access over time.

“Users have been asking for plugins since we launched ChatGPT (and many developers are experimenting with similar ideas) because they unlock a vast range of possible use cases,” OpenAI wrote.

“Though not a perfect analogy, plugins can be ‘eyes and ears’ for language models, giving them access to information that is too recent, too personal, or too specific to be included in the training data.”

Last week, OpenAI revealed GPT-4, it’s most advanced large language model yet. Soon after, Microsoft integrated GPT-4 with GitHub’s Copilot assistant for developers to make coding faster and easier.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic