You might think of Google Pixel smartphones as simple contenders to a growing number of Android flagship devices, but betting your chips on Google does have its benefits as seen in the newest Google Pixel feature drop. These new additions are meant to make you more productive on your phone, and to streamline tasks. These features are available on devices across the Pixel ecosystem, including the Google Pixel 8. Read our full review of the newest Pixel 8 smartphone here for a full backgrounder.
Search Without Interrupting Your Flow: Circle to Search
Highlighting and selecting objects for the purpose of looking up more information can be a bit of a hassle especially if you need to do it spontaneously, and while Google Images search is great, it takes a few steps. Google is tackling this issue with its new Circle to Search feature that promises quick access to search results after performing a simple gesture.
How to use Google Circle to Search
To use Circle to Search, just long press your Pixel’s home button or gesture bar and use the touchscreen to draw a circle over a piece of text, area of an image, or object you wish to search more information on. Once finished, Google will work its AI magic and deliver the results without switching away from your active app. Circle to Search isn’t limited to just circling too as you can squiggle over an object or highlight text and Google will recognize what you are trying to find.
Transform Photos into Reactions: Meet Photomoji
The Google Messages app in Pixel devices is getting a fun little feature called Photomoji which can turn a part of a photo in your library into a reaction or sticker. The magic of Photomoji is its quickness and accuracy of taking out objects from the background for immediate use within Google Messages. Photomoji saves every sticker you make in a special tab for easy reusing. Your friends in your Google Messages conversation can use these stickers as well even if they are not using a Pixel device.
Magic Compose Out of Beta and Runs On-Device for Pixel 8 Pro
Magic Compose was a breakthrough experimental feature when launched in beta back in May 2023. The feature used AI to generate suggestions on how to respond based on the conversation. Its main limitation was the fact that the messages needed to go through Google’s servers.
Part of Google’s feature drop is the non-beta debut of the Magic Compose feature and for Pixel 8 Pro devices specifically, the feature works entirely on the device. The Google Pixel 8 Pro is the first Android device that is compliant with Google’s Gemini Nano AI model. Gemini Nano is the most efficient model in the Gemini family allowing Pixel 8 Pro devices to rewrite drafted messages and generate appropriate responses to a conversation without requiring access to the cloud.
Pixel Thermometer App Gets New Body Temperature Feature in the US
Pixel 8 Pro owners in the US can now use the Pixel Thermometer app to take a person’s body temperature just by letting the device scan the forehead. The feature is FDA-certified and the app can save the data to your Fitbit profile to further build up your health and wellness profile. Keep an eye out for a Canada release in the future.
Faster Sharing Across Devices
Say goodbye to the Nearby Share feature as Google merged its technology with Samsung’s Quick Share feature bringing a better default option for Pixel devices to use for simple peer-to-peer sharing. The feature works across Android devices and Chromebooks and can even detect certain Windows PCs that have the Quick Share app preinstalled.
Hassle-free Audio Switching
You no longer need to fiddle with menus and Bluetooth pairing settings if you want to connect your Pixel Buds Pro to another device (Pixel 5a devices or newer). As soon as you move your Pixel Buds Pro to another device, that device will recognize it and automatically pair. Google’s latest feature drop adds Pixel Watch support.
New Minty Fresh Colour for Pixel 8
For those who haven’t yet upgraded to the Pixel ecosystem to enjoy these new features, Google is offering a new color for their Pixel 8 models – Minty Fresh. The Pixel 8 Minty Fresh is currently available on Google Store Canada and is currently bundling this new variant with a free matching case if you order on or before February 3, 2024.
This feature drop represents a new paradigm shift for the smartphone arms race for 2024 as the best smartphone isn’t just about having the fastest processor and most advanced camera array. We are now living in the AI era and smartphones need advanced processors like Google’s Tensor G3 found in the Pixel 8 devices to use the latest and greatest features. With Google promising 7 years of software updates for their Pixel 8 series, expect more feature drops to utilize these AI-centric processors.
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