Pixel 8 Pro update makes it Google's first AI phone – here are the 6 new features

Google Pixel 8 launch hands on area Pixel 8 Pro back handheld
(Image credit: Future | Philip Berne)

The Pixel 8 Pro is seeing a substantial upgrade as Google is rolling out several new features to the smartphone, some of which are powered by Gemini Nano.

Recently, the tech giant launched its long-anticipated Gemini AI model to power a variety of platforms. There are three different versions of it, but the one coming to Pixel is the aforementioned Nano, which will be the driving force behind the Summarize tool on the Recorder app and Smart Reply in Gboard. The former acts exactly as its name suggests – it creates summaries for audio content saved on Recorder. It provides a quick breakdown of a conversation or presentation by highlighting key points of interest. However, it can only summarize in English. Smart Reply, on the other hand, suggests “high-quality responses” to texts befitting the current context. 

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because they were first shown off back in October during a past Made by Google event

There is a catch with Smart Reply – it’s only available as a developer preview in English on WhatsApp. You are welcome to try it out yourself by enabling Aicore Persistent in the Settings menu. Detailed instructions can be found on the Android Developer website. Also, the tool is available globally so anybody can take it for a spin. Keep in mind that because it is in preview, Smart Reply may not work as well as intended. There are plans to expand the feature to other messaging apps although no word on when we’ll see the rollout.

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Camera improvements

As for the rest of the update, the other features primarily focus on improving the Pixel 8 Pro’s camera capabilities. In total, there are four.

First, you have Video Boost. This will have the smartphone upload your footage to Google’s cloud where the company’s “computational photography models” will spruce up the file by adjusting the color and lighting, stabilizing the shot, and removing any graininess it can detect. 

The visual improvements will extend to Night Sight where AI will lessen the amount of noise in videos recorded in low lighting. It even has a new Timelapse function allowing you to film long-form content of a changing environment.

Next, the Portrait lighting effect in Google Photos now comes with a Balance mode to remove harsh shadowing, improving an image's overall quality. Photo Unblur is seeing a performance boost, becoming better at sharpening pictures of dogs and cats.

Notable features

That’s pretty much it for all of the AI-powered features being introduced, although the update has more to it.

Google is adding a Repair Mode to the Pixel 8 Pro. This will lock down the device keeping sensitive data protected when the phone is not in your possession like if you’re sending it for repairs, hence the name. Galaxy phones have something similar.

The Camera app’s Clean tool will be able to remove smudges or stains on scanned documents. Finally, Google Assistant will recommend contextual replies on the Call Screen in case you can’t (or don’t want to) pick up the phone. This last one is seeing a wider release as it’ll be present on the Pixel Fold as well as the Pixel 6 and newer models. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. While you wait, check out TechRadar’s list of the best Pixel phones for 2023. It's not too late to get that final Christmas present.

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Cesar Cadenas
Contributor

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.