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Pixel 8 Update: Gemini Nano Arrives Exclusively for Developers

Pixel 8 Update Gemini Nano Arrives Exclusively for Developers

Earlier this year, Google’s Gemini AI model made its debut on select mobile devices through an Android app. However, there was surprise when it became apparent that Google’s latest flagship smartphone, the Pixel 8, was not included in the compatible devices list. At the Mobile World Congress, it was disclosed that Gemini Nano couldn’t operate on the Pixel 8 due to unspecified hardware limitations. Now, the reason behind the phone’s inability to support on-device AI compatibility is becoming clearer.

During a recent episode of the Made by Google podcast, Seang Chau, VP of devices and services software, highlighted that the Pixel 8 Pro with its 12 GB of RAM was an ideal platform for integrating Gemini Nano and exploring its capabilities. However, the Pixel 8, which comes with 4 GB less memory, was not chosen for this integration. It seems Google’s decision was influenced by a desire to avoid “degrading the experience” by attempting to run the AI model on a device with only 8 GB of RAM. This sheds light on why the Gemini Nano couldn’t be deployed on the Pixel 8.

The difference in RAM between the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro became a crucial factor in the decision-making process regarding Gemini Nano integration. Seang Chau mentioned on the Made by Google podcast that the Pixel 8 Pro’s 12 GB of RAM provided a more suitable platform to load the AI model and explore its potential. In contrast, the Pixel 8’s lower memory capacity of 8 GB made it less ideal for hosting Gemini Nano without potentially compromising the user experience.

Google has made a somewhat surprising decision regarding Gemini Nano and the Pixel 8. In a recent announcement on the Pixel Phone Help site, the tech giant revealed that it will be introducing Gemini Nano to Pixel 8 users as a developer option in the upcoming software update. While this is certainly good news for developers who are familiar with how to enable this feature, for the average Pixel 8 user, it may not hold much immediate significance – at least, not yet.

Google newest and most capable AI model

During his podcast appearance, Seang Chau from Google elaborated on the company’s approach to AI-enabled features like smart reply. He mentioned that Google aims to have these features be “RAM resident“, meaning they occupy a portion of memory permanently. This strategy ensures that these AI features are always ready to be utilized instantly, without any delay.

Chau’s explanation sheds light on Google’s strategy to enhance user experience with AI on their devices. By having features like smart reply reside in the RAM, Pixel 8 users can expect seamless and quick responses to messages and prompts. This approach aligns with Google’s goal of making AI integration not only powerful but also efficient for everyday use.

Google provided additional details to Ars Technica regarding Gemini’s memory usage on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Currently, neither device is keeping Gemini in memory by default. To enable this feature, users have to turn on a developer flag.

This information clarifies that Gemini is not being kept in memory on either the Pixel 8 or the Pixel 8 Pro as a standard setting. Users who wish to utilize this functionality will need to navigate to the developer options and enable the necessary flag. This approach gives users more control over the memory allocation for Gemini, ensuring that it is only activated when desired.

With this new insight into Gemini Nano’s operation, users may now consider whether they want this AI model running on their Pixel 8. Installing Gemini Nano without restrictions means a portion of system memory will be “permanently” allocated to it. This allocation could potentially affect the performance of other apps and services on the smartphone. Users will need to weigh the benefits of having Gemini Nano readily available against the potential trade-off of reduced performance.

The decision to enable Gemini Nano as a developer option raises the question of whether the trade-off in system memory is worthwhile. Users must consider how often they will use the AI features versus the impact on overall system performance. This new development allows for a more customized experience but requires careful consideration from Pixel 8 users regarding their priorities for device performance and AI functionality.

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