Getting started with the Pixel 8 Pro: five features that you will like

Estimated read time 6 min read

Getting started with the Pixel 8 Pro: five features that you will like

Google last week unveiled not one but two new Pixel phones, the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro. And it marked. At the launch event in New York, which I attended, “oohs”, “aahs” and other ovations could be heard during the keynote that lasted an hour.

With the Google Pixel 8 series in particular, I was very impressed by the multitude of features and the capabilities of the camera put forward by the company. Some will certainly be quickly forgotten, according to me, after the initial test period, and others appeared as a real evolution of what we can do with our smartphone.

Below I have listed the five most exciting features from my point of view, including some more subtle ones that solve the old problems I have with Pixel devices.

1. The Google Assistant 2.0

Google Assistant 2.0

June Wan/ZDNET

When was the last time you used Google Assistant to ask for the weather, to set an alarm or to search for a nearby restaurant? The Google Pixel 8 series marks a new beginning for one of the most popular voice assistants in the world, with several AI improvements and features that should make its use more interesting for a greater number of people.

The list includes an assistant :

  • Taking into account the context that sounds more human than ever
  • Who has the ability to summarize and read aloud web pages while ignoring unnecessary content such as advertising texts and logos
  • Who performs image processing and generates captions for you on social media

I am particularly curious to gauge the effectiveness of Google Assistant with Bard, which will be delivered “in the next few months”. It was only a matter of time before Google integrated its AI chatbot with its voice assistant. So Google is doing with Android what Microsoft is doing with Copilot and Windows PCs.

2. The brightest Pixel screen of all time

Google Pixel 8 Pro Actua Display

June Wan/ZDNET

If there is one thing that I never miss when I switch from a Pixel smartphone to an iPhone or a Samsung, it is the brightness of the screen. This has always been a big flaw for me with Google mobiles, because it opposes the company’s focus on camera performance.

If you capture photos and videos outdoors, the brightness of the screen (and the viewfinder) can make the difference between a perfectly framed image and another shot anyhow.

With the new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, Google has increased the maximum brightness to 2,000 and 2,400 nits, respectively. The demonstration area of the Made by Google event was relatively well lit, so I naturally increased the brightness of the devices during my first grip. To my surprise, the screens were much more visible – too bright in some cases to take pictures without overexposing the background.

This display improvement should have an impact on the daily experience of the new Pixel smartphones, and not just for taking photos, and I am therefore optimistic as the tests approach.

3. Video Boost

June Wan/ZDNET

Speaking of brightness, the Pixel 8 Pro has a new video enhancement feature called Video Boost. By relying in particular on HDR+, it captures a better dynamic range and, consequently, details, in both well-lit and darker environments.

A demonstration video presented during the keynote showed how the dark streets of Japanese cities could be illuminated, revealing an architecture that could not be captured without the appropriate lighting equipment.

The interesting thing about Video Boost is that most of the post-processing is done in the cloud, which means that once you have made a video, the original copy will be stored as usual, while the improved version will be sent back to you a little later. A Google spokesperson indicated that it had taken hours for one of their videos to be fully processed.

Video Boost will be available with the a Pixel update in December.

4. Clearer and improved calls

The ZDNET team has also had its share of cellular connection problems with Pixel phones, myself included. So I am cautiously optimistic about the announcement of the new feature Clear Calling. Thanks to training models and AI, the Pixel 8 could better detect background noises and filter them, thus highlighting your voice.

The same function is present on the old Pixel 7 and the Pixel Fold. But, from experience, on these two devices, I was often greeted by this type of comment from my interlocutor: “Sorry, can you repeat?”or “You have a muffled voice”. So much so that my friends and family members knew when I was testing a Pixel phone because of the inferior quality of the microphone.

According to the audio samples presented during the keynote and a series of Google Meets calls that I was able to make during my timed getting started session, the Pixel 8 series should give better results than before. I will be convinced of this if I no longer receive the comment “Are you testing a Pixel?”during my next phone calls.

5. Seven years of operating system updates

Google Pixel event

June Wan/ZDNET

Google is proving the skeptics wrong with its latest software commitment, surpassing both Apple and Samsung when it comes to future updates and longevity. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will receive up to seven years of operating system (OS), features and security updates. Which means that they will be supported until 2030!

Given the number of AI features that are on the program of this year’s models, it is hoped that Google will bring even more useful capabilities over time.

This is an important promise, especially for a company that has a reputation for removing programs and services only a few years after their launch. One of the most recent victims is the Pixel Pass subscription, which allowed Pixel phone users to upgrade to the latest model after two years. The service was removed a few weeks before Pixel 6 users could upgrade to the new Pixel 8…

The big question I have, given the length of time Google plans to refresh the software of the new Pixel phones, is how it will handle hardware support. Unlike Apple, which operates a number of stores around the world (including more than 20 in France alone), it is less convenient to have a Pixel phone repaired. Not to mention the fact that the device is not available worldwide, your chances of finding spare parts in certain regions may be difficult.

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