Google reverses course and brings its Gemini AI to the regular Pixel 8

This follows a launch for the Pixel 8 Pro.


Google will bring Gemini, the company’s new large language model, to Pixel 8 smartphones after all. The phone will incorporate Gemini Nano, a version of the model built to run locally on personal devices. This follows a successful rollout to the Pixel 8 Pro late last year and the Samsung Galaxy S24 in January.

The Pixel 8 features the same proprietary Tensor G3 chip as the Pro, which was designed to speed up AI performance. So the overall experience should be similar with both gadgets. It’ll be coming in the next Pixel Feature Drop, but only as a developer preview for now. Google wants to collect feedback and make sure everything is running smoothly on the slightly lower-specced phone.

This is a fairly sudden change for Google. The company originally said that the Pixel 8 couldn't handle on-device Gemini because of "hardware limitations", despite having the same chip as the Pro model. The main difference between the two phones is the RAM allotment, which doesn't seem like a deal-breaker when it comes to running an on-device AI. It looks like Google also came around to that line of thinking.

So what can you do with this thing? The company’s expanding two features that make use of the LLM, and both of these tools have been available for Pro users. The Recorder app will get an improved Gemini-powered summarize feature that works locally on the device. A similar tool already exists, but requires a network connection. Once Gemini Nano is on-board, the data will no longer have to get sent to a server. As one might surmise, this feature creates summaries of recorded conversations.

Gemini Nano will also power Gboard’s Smart Reply toolset. This software suggests responses to messages and is even aware of context in conversations. It started as an exclusive to WhatsApp but recently expanded to Line and KakaoTalk. Google promises “more messaging apps” will add support in the coming months. It’s pretty odd that Google Messages isn’t one of the early adopters of this platform. Gemini Nano is used to power on-device Magic Compose in Messages on the Pixel 8 Pro and Samsung S24, but Google hasn’t announced if this particular tool is coming to the standard Pixel 8.

This has been a big week for Gemini, as Apple is reportedly in talks to bring Google’s AI to iPhones. That’s like Coke and Pepsi suddenly opening up a soda shop together. However, Gemini recently came under fire for creating wildly inaccurate historical images. The image generation feature is still on pause as the company continues to iron out those kinks.