July 15, 2024


The Intersection of Information and Insight

7 Underrated Google Pixel 8 Features You Should Use Today

5 min read

With every new Pixel, Google adds new features you won’t find on any other phone. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are no different, and some of their best functions are ones you might not notice right away. Whether you just got your hands on a Pixel 8 or haven’t explored yours fully, here are some lesser-known features you should take advantage of.

1. Assistant Voice Typing

All Android phones feature voice typing. But you get Assistant voice typing on the Google Pixel 8 (and older Pixel models). This feature supercharges the traditional voice-to-text typing method by doing all the processing on-device. Your Pixel doesn’t need an active internet connection to convert what you’re saying into text.

The result is that voice-to-text conversion happens almost in real-time, significantly improving your voice typing experience. Plus, Assistant voice typing is smart enough to automatically insert punctuations and highlight any grammatical errors in your sentences.

What’s even better is that Assistant voice typing can recognize commands like “send,” “undo,” and “delete,” so you can send (or delete) the message you entered via your voice without even lifting your finger.

Enable the feature by navigating to Settings > System > Keyboard > On-screen keyboard > Gboard > Voice typing. Once enabled, you can tap the microphone button in Gboard’s toolbar to use voice typing. Since the feature is a part of Gboard, you cannot use voice typing with another third-party keyboard.

The downside of Assistant voice typing is that it doesn’t work with all languages. Currently, it supports English, French, German, Italian, German, Japanese, and Spanish. On the Pixel 8, voice typing is even faster than on previous Pixels. Plus, the feature can understand multiple languages simultaneously, allowing you to switch between them seamlessly.

If for some reason you don’t like Assistant voice typing, feel free to check out some other dictation apps for Android devices.

2. Advanced Face Unlock

Like voice typing, almost all Android phones nowadays feature face unlock. However, this is largely limited to unlocking the phone. But the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro deliver a vastly superior experience. Google claims the Pixel 8’s face unlock is secure enough to be eligible for the “highest Android biometric class.” The company has achieved this using its new machine learning and AI algorithms.

So you can use face unlock on your Pixel 8 to authorize payments, access your password manager, and more. Anywhere you need to verify your identity can use face unlock instead of the fingerprint scanner. And since face unlock is automatically triggered, the authentication happens seamlessly.

If you’re switching from an iPhone, you won’t find this improvement a big deal. But if you’re switching from another Android device, you will realize how Pixel 8’s face unlock makes logging into apps or authorizing payments much more convenient. Navigate to Settings > Security and privacy > Device unlock > Fingerprint and Face Unlock to set up the feature on your Pixel 8.

3. Lock Screen Customization

You can customize your Pixel 8’s lock screen with a wallpaper different from the home screen, pick from one of the many clock themes, change its color and size, and tweak the left/right shortcuts.

Android 14’s Lock screen customization isn’t limited to Pixel phones, but it truly shines on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro because the feature works exactly how Google intended it to be. To access these options, long-press on the lock screen or navigate to Settings > Wallpaper and style and switch to the Lock screen tab.

By customizing your Pixel 8’s lock screen, you can give it a look that’s personal to you, which will help make your phone stand out. While Google’s implementation is impressive, the Lock Screen customization options on iPhone are much more versatile. There, you can add widgets to the lock screen, which is not possible on Android without third-party apps.

4. Custom AI Wallpapers

Google leverages the power of generative AI on the Pixel and Pixel 8 to let you create your own unique wallpapers. The process is relatively simple, though you are limited to certain pre-defined themes upon which to base your wallpaper. To try this:

  1. Long-press on an empty area of your Pixel’s home screen and select Wallpaper and style.
  2. Tap More wallpapers at the bottom and select AI wallpaper under the “Create a wallpaper” section.
  3. Choose your desired wallpaper theme from the available options.
  4. Tap and select from the pre-defined keywords available.
  5. Tap Create wallpaper to generate the AI-based wallpaper. This will take a few seconds.
  6. You may have multiple creations, so swipe left to go through all of them. Tap the tick button at the top-right corner to select one and proceed to set it as your wallpaper.

5. AI-Powered Camera Features

Google’s Pixel phones are known for their excellent cameras, and the Pixel 8 is no exception. More importantly, the phone ships with an array of AI-powered camera features to further elevate the experience of capturing memories.

With Best Take, you can take several group shots and later swap faces to ensure everyone looks their best. Similarly, Magic Editor lets you use the power of generative AI to reframe your picture after it has been taken. Also, Magic Eraser, first introduced on the Pixel 6, can now reduce unwanted background noise in your recorded videos.

That’s not all, though. In December 2023, Google rolled out Video Boost to Pixel 8 Pro users, further boosting its video recording capabilities with superior color, lighting, and stabilization.

6. Drag and Drop Content Between Apps

Android 14 introduced the ability to drag and drop content between apps natively. You are limited to text and images, but the feature works well, especially if you frequently review documents and emails on your phone.

Simply long-press on the highlighted text (or image) until it’s moveable. Then, using your other hand, open the app where you want to drop the content. Ensure the text box is in focus on the new app and drop the selected item.

Do note that the feature is a bit finicky in its present state. It may not work across all apps, and dragging and dropping images does not always work.

7. Handy Gestures

Google offers a plethora of gestures on the Pixel 8 series, which can help quickly trigger some everyday actions. For example, you can seamlessly switch between the front and rear cameras in the Pixel Camera app by double-twisting the phone.

Similarly, you can open the Camera app by double-pressing the power button. The best part is that the shortcut works from anywhere in the OS, even when playing a game or using an app.

You can find all the handy gestures available on the Pixel 8 under Settings > System > Gestures. This is one of the best Pixel 8 features that you must enable.

Google’s Pixel 8 series might not trump the competition with its raw specs, but the phone stands out with its impressive AI-powered features. All of them combined allow the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro to deliver an experience that other Android phones cannot match, despite packing superior hardware. As we’ve seen, taking the time to explore its many functions is well worth it.

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