Google Pixel 8 gets clever Circle to Search feature and fresh colour

Google Pixel 8 Mint colour
Image: Google.

Looking fresh with a new Mint colour, the Google Pixel 8 also benefits from a whole bunch of new features focused on search, generative AI, and sharing cute pet pictures with friends.

In a big recent feature drop, Google announced that both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones are now available in Mint, adding to the existing range of colours. It’s a slick new look for an already-sleek device but there’s more than just an aesthetic refresh.

When the phones first dropped last October, Google focused far more on AI features than hardware changes. It sparked a trend continued by Samsung with its AI-centric Galaxy S24 handsets, working with Google to deliver some of its most notable features.

Now, the intuitive Circle to Search feature is coming to Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. It’s a novel search method that lets you look up anything on your phone’s screen without needing to open a separate app. Once activated, Circle to Search automatically Googles any subject via clever gesture-based controls.

See something in a photo you don’t know the name of? Just circle it and see immediate search results. It also works with text too.  When watching a video accompanied by text, simply highlight the words to Google it, saving you from manually typing in complex phrases.

Circle to Search isn’t the only immediately useful feature coming to Pixel devices. Again working with Samsung, Google has revamped its quick file-sharing technology, rebranding Nearby Share to Quick Share. Like Apple’s AirDrop feature but for Android devices and PCs, Quick Share lets you easily transfer photos, text and files from a Pixel to a compatible device.

Google Pixel 8 gets Shakespearean

If you have a Google Pixel 6 or newer, you’ll also get Magic Compose, a generative AI editing tool. Like the Samsung Galaxy S24’s Chat Assist, it rewords drafted messages to fit different tone suggestions.

For example, Magic Compose can edit your message to sound more professional when contacting a work colleague. Verbose texters might benefit from the concise tone option: “why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?” Or, if you’re in the mood for being a bit dramatic, you can even convert your message into Shakespearean.

Magic Compose uses Google’s Gemini Nano AI model, processing all requests locally on-device. Also tapping into on-device AI technology is Photomoji, a way of transforming your photos into emoji reactions. Naturally, the suggested use for this is to quickly react to friends’ messages with a neat cut-out of your cat. Which, in my professional opinion, is the objectively correct reason to use Photomoji.

Google also highlighted its temperature-taking feature on the Pixel 8 Pro. Only available in the US for now, the addition to the Thermometer app acts as a way of monitoring your health. Although no consumer device should replace expert medical advice, it could help identify when you’re running a fever.

Some of the features are available now, while Circle to Search comes to the Pixel 8 range starting on 31 January. You can check out the full details via Google’s official announcement.

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