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Gemini Nano will indeed roll out to Pixel 8 despite claims of "hardware limitations"

 Google Pixel 8 review front straight handheld.
Google Pixel 8 review front straight handheld.

Despite assertions that it wouldn’t happen, Gemini Nano will in fact be making its way to the Pixel 8. Google didn’t reveal a lot of details in their announcement, so the AI’s full capabilities on the smartphone are unknown at this time. However, Gemini Nano on the Pixel 8 may perform similarly to its Pixel 8 Pro counterpart.

According to 9To5Google, it’ll be used to power two features: Summarize in Recorder and Gboard Smart Reply. The former is a tool which writes summaries for audio files saved on the Recorder app. It even highlights “key points of interest” in conversations as bullet points. Smart Reply, as the name suggests, can generate “smart replies” fully aware of a conversation’s context. Over on the Pixel 8 Pro, the feature works with Google Messages as well as third-party messaging services, like WhatsApp.

A launch date for Gemini Nano on the Pixel 8 has not been set. 9To5Google states the update will come out in June during the next Pixel Feature Drop. However, it will only be available as a developer preview, meaning there could be advanced steps to take if you want to gain access.

Previous claims

Either way, it is good to see Gemini Nano expand elsewhere. If you don’t know, the model is the “smallest version of the Gemini model family” developed specially to run on supporting Android phones. So it was strange to hear a Google engineer say during a recent episode of The Android Show it wouldn’t be showing up on the Pixel 8. They blamed hardware limitations. The base phone has 8GB of RAM while the Pro has 12GB of RAM, and that gap of 4GB apparently made all the difference.

However, as other people have said online, that claim didn’t make any sense. Industry expert Mishaal Rahman points out the Samsung Galaxy S24 starts with 8GB of RAM and it’s able to natively run Gemini Nano without a problem. Outside of some unknown hardware limitation, it should have been possible.

As it turns out, it is. Google seemingly found a way to run the AI on less memory without negatively impacting the user experience.

The question now is will the upcoming Pixel 8a receive the same support? It’s hard to say. A lot of information has leaked for the rumored budget Pixel, but there’s still much we don’t know, like the amount of RAM it’ll have at launch. If it’s anything like the Pixel 7a, the new phone will also sport 8GB of memory, so it could run Gemini Nano – barring, of course, other restrictions preventing support.

If you're a developer and want to try out Gemini Nano this June on your Pixel 8, you'll have to first fill out a Google Forms page for the Android Early Access Preview program. And be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best Pixel phones for 2024.

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