Home Mobile Google Confirms Abrupt U-Turn, Giving Key Upgrade To Pixel 8 Users

Google Confirms Abrupt U-Turn, Giving Key Upgrade To Pixel 8 Users

The next feature drop for Google Pixel will bring a surprise upgrade for the Pixel 8: Gemini Nano. Earlier this month, a Google engineer (though not on the Pixel team) said that Gemini Nano, the on-device large language model, “will not be coming to Pixel 8 because of some hardware limitations.” Now, it’s changed its mind.

Google released a statement on March 28, saying, “Running large language models on phones with different memory specs can deliver different user experiences, so we have been testing and validating this on Pixel 8. We’re excited to provide the opportunity for more enthusiasts and developers to try out Gemini Nano, where we hope to get more feedback and see more innovation.”

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When the Googler made the first announcement, there had been quite the furore. After all, the Pixel 8 Pro already has Gemini Nano on board, since December, in fact. And both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro run on the same processor, the Tensor G3. So, were the hardware limitations down to the difference in levels of RAM on board the Pixel 8? The Pro has 12GB of RAM but the Pixel 8 has 8GB.

Google has now squared the circle and Gemini Nano will be in the next Pixel Feature Drop, expected in June.

Google confirmed to Android Authority that although it will be for all Pixel 8 users, it will have to be enabled through Developer options. This means going to Settings and choosing About Phone, then scrolling down to the build number. To activate it, and this is the bit for which you need specialized knowledge, you need to press on the build number seven times.

Google is being cautious. Seang Chau, Google’s VP of Devices and Services Software, said in the Made by Google podcast, “The plan is that we would also make Gemini Nano available on Pixel 8 behind a developer option. So that developers… are able to use this feature. We’re still doing system health validations, because even if you’re a developer you might still want to use your phone on a daily basis, but we’re planning on getting it out by the next feature drop.”

It will only be available for two features, specifically Summarize in Recorder, which will create a summary of the transcript that the brilliant Recorder app comes up with, and Smart Reply capabilities in GBoard, which can generate smart replies in a conversational way in Messages, for instance.

This is great news for Pixel 8 owners, who will doubtless be awaiting the next feature drop with excitement.

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