Thursday, April 18, 2024

Your Google Pixel 8 is getting this cool missing feature after all

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The Google Pixel 8 on a table.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

A feature you thought wasn’t coming to your Google Pixel 8 is coming to your Pixel 8, after all. It’s Gemini Nano, the on-device AI that recently launched on the Pixel 8 Pro, but Google claimed it wouldn’t work on the cheaper Pixel 8. Backtracking on previous statements is rarely a good thing, but this time, it has a happy ending.

Gemini Nano — the name given to the most efficient version of Google’s Gemini AI, joining Gemini Pro and Ultra — arrived on the Pixel 8 Pro in an update in December 2023. It was good news, but Pixel 8 owners were oddly left out. In an episode of the Android Developers podcast in March 2024, it was then claimed Gemini Nano wouldn’t operate on the non-Pro Pixel 8 at all due to unspecified hardware limitations, which was a blow to owners of the cheaper phone as it even uses the same processor as the Pro model.

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What’s happened since then? Either Google jumped the gun or heard the complaints about not supporting the Pixel 8 because the situation has now changed. In the next Pixel feature drop, Gemini Nano (and presumably, Google’s AICore system service app) will arrive on the Pixel 8 as a developer preview where it will power the Summarize feature in the Recorder app and the Smart Reply feature in the Gboard keyboard app.

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The company says it has been testing Nano on the Pixel 8 to verify if devices with less RAM can still run it without compromising on user experience. The answer seems to be that it can, as the Pixel 8 has 8GB of RAM compared to the Pixel 8 Pro’s 12GB of RAM. It’s an odd situation, though, as Gemini Nano operates on the Samsung Galaxy S24 series, where the cheapest version of the non-Plus, non-Ultra S24, has 8GB of RAM too. These phones don’t use the Google Tensor G3 processor but Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Gen 3 processor instead.

At the time of writing, Google has not provided an arrival date for the feature drop update that will bring Gemini Nano to the Pixel 8. However, it has already released an update for Pixel devices this month, which may mean it won’t arrive for several months yet. However, at least it is coming, and Google hasn’t entirely forgotten about a device it only released at the end of last year after all.

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