Google’s last Pixel Feature Drop for 2023, has finally arrived. It brings a ton of new features that will arrive on new and recent Pixel smartphones. Some of these updates also have features that trickle down to other Pixel ecosystem devices. While the highlight of this update includes some new generative AI features that use Google’s recently announced Gemini Nano AI model, these are currently tied down to the Pixel 8 Pro only. Still, there’s plenty to look forward to for those who own older Pixel devices as well.
Google today introduced its new Gemini AI model which has been made available in three different sizes – Ultra, Pro and Nano. According to Google, Gemini Nano is the most efficient model and is the one being used in the Pixel 8 Pro in particular to handle some AI generated tasks locally on the smartphone, without the need to be connected to the internet or the cloud. This includes a new Summarise feature in the Recorder app, which will deliver summaries of recorded conversations, interviews and more without connecting to the internet. Another Gemini Nano AI-driven feature is Smart Reply which has been made available in the GBoard keyboard app. The feature is currently available as a developer preview and works with certain apps only (will be coming to more apps next year). Pixel 8 Pro owners can demo the feature in WhatsApp currently letting them automatically generate replies based on the current chat conversation.
Moving away from the Gemini Nano model, the Pixel 8 Pro gains another feature that according to Google utilises its Tensor G3 processor. Video Boost will now be available for Pixel 8 Pro owners. After enabling the feature in the camera app, all users have to do is shoot a video like they normally would, while Google saves a separate copy of the same video in a different format. Once both videos are uploaded to the cloud, Google’s computational photography models will adjust parameters like colour, lighting, stabilisation, and graininess, helping make videos appear better. Video Boost also works with Night Sight video (once again on Pixel 8 Pro) resulting in videos that have richer colour and more detail once processed in the cloud. The end product is then downloaded back to the phone and replaces the original recorded video on it.
Both Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel 8 owners will also get access to a new Night Sight timelapse feature (found in the same camera mode) letting them shoot timelapse videos with better dynamic range and overall clarity.
The Pixel Fold, apart from the new tools mentioned above, also gets access to a Dual Screen Preview. It lets your subjects view themselves when shooting a photo by looking at themselves in the second preview on the Fold’s cover display.
Moving to older devices (Pixel 7 Pro up to the Pixel 6a), a new Portrait Light tool is available in the Photos app that lets users get rid of harsh shadows and improve the overall lighting of any photos that are stored on the same app, regardless of whether it was shot on a Pixel or not. The Photo Unblur tool also gets some added functionality and now works with dogs and cats as well. Once again, this works regardless of where the source image comes from. Users can also use their Pixel phones as webcam by simply plugging in the USB cable into a computer and selecting ‘Webcam’ in USB preferences. There’s also a Clean feature which can help remove smudges, stains and more from scanned documents.
Photo and camera-centric features aside, Google’s push for passkeys gets stronger with Password Manager now being able to identify apps, services or accounts that support the same, letting you add them when available.
Call Screen, a feature that’s not available in India yet, now makes its way to the Pixel Watch. Owners of the Pixel Watch can now also automatically unlock other Pixel devices when nearby, reducing the need to manually enter a password to unlock them, in case your hands are busy. Users of the first gen Pixel Watch can now also sync their Do Not Disturb and Bedtime Modes from one device to the other. Pixel Tablet also gets AI-enhanced Clear Calling and now supports spatial audio with head tracking when connected to Pixel Buds Pro.
Last but not the least comes the much-awaited Repair Mode. The feature basically keeps your personal data protected when handing over your Pixel device to a service centre for repairs. It mainly reduces the need for users to format or erase their devices when getting them serviced.
You can head here to check whether your Pixel device supports a particular feature from the December Feature Drop. The update is rolling out gradually and will reach supported Pixel devices over the next weeks.