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Innovation

How Google's Gemini AI makes your Pixel 8 Pro faster and smarter

The upgraded AI model runs directly on the phone, and support for other Android devices is on the way.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Google Pixel 8 Pro AI Wallpaper
June Wan/ZDNET

If you're a Google Pixel 8 Pro user, your phone is about to get a serious AI upgrade from Google. And if you're not a Pixel user, but still an Android user, there's good news for you too.

Starting today, Google is bringing its new Gemini model of the Bard AI to the Pixel 8 Pro. First announced in May of this year, Gemini is Google's most capable and advanced language model AI to date (and a decent rival to ChatGPT).

Also: What is Gemini? Everything you should know about Google's new AI model

However, since Gemini was designed to be run in a large data center environment, what's appearing on the Pixel 8 Pro will be a slimmed-down version -- Gemini Nano --that's specifically designed for smartphones. But even though it's not the "full" version, that doesn't mean it's any less valuable.

In a post announcing the rollout, Google noted that Gemini Nano was the "most efficient model built for on-device tasks," adding that since it "runs directly on mobile silicon," there's support for several use cases.  

At first, only two things on the Pixel 8 Pro will be run by Gemini Nano -- the Smart Reply on the Gboard keyboard -- which suggests the next thing to say in a messaging app -- and the Recorder app's auto summarize feature, which lets you get a recap of a full meeting with one click. Both of these processes, part of Google's December Pixel feature drop, will run directly on the phone, which ensures three things: sensitive data stays on your device, no online connection is needed, and the processes should be very quick.

In summary, right now all you'll see is two apps on your Pixel 8 running a little faster and communicating a little more effectively. But it's only the beginning. 

Also: Google's Smart Search now showing up on more Android phones

This is indeed only a small initial rollout, and your phone may not even feel that different. But if Gemini can work the way Google thinks it can, and if it can be brought to the Google Assistant on Pixel phones, this could over time become a huge addition to Google's product line. And when Gemini rolls out to Android overall -- which is in the works -- it will have an even broader impact.

Long term, Gemini -- and AI tools in general -- look to have a potentially massive impact on Android devices, and could change almost everything we do with our devices. Combined with the introduction of Beeper, an app that lets the color-conscious finally get rid of their green Android bubble, will we start to see a migration from iOS to Android?

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