artificial intelligence

The New AI Photo Tricks on the Pixel 8 Are Blowing My Mind

I watched as the spokesperson selected a person’s face and cycled through other versions of the face from recent images and other frames. Just choose the face you want (a weird sentence to write) to complete your perfect group photo. Google assured me it is not generating any facial expressions but is instead using an on-device face recognition algorithm (Google Photos can already detect familiar faces) to match images up.

Audio Magic Eraser

Magic Eraser removes stuff you don’t want to see in your photos. Now, with the Pixel 8 series, it can also eliminate sounds you don’t want to hear. 

In one of my demos, I saw a video of someone playing a cello at a park. In the background? A siren going off in the distance (classic New York City). With Audio Magic Eraser, you can edit the clip and split the sounds up to completely remove the frequencies of the siren. The result is a video with just the sounds of a cello. It was pretty remarkable. This also means you can cut the sound of the cello and just play the siren, so you do you.

Google says the system uses machine learning to identify up to five types of common sounds, like “sirens,” “animals,” and “crowds.” It’s not going to work perfectly every time—I watched a demo of a man humming while at the beach, and when we tried to cancel the sounds of the ocean, I could still hear them cropping up here and there. 

Video Boost

Video: Google

This feature is a little less creepy, and more just plain impressive. Video Boost is exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro, and you can toggle it on when you’re shooting video clips in low light or if there’s going to be a lot of action. 

A copy of your video, which can be up to 4K at 30 frames per second, is then sent over to Google’s Cloud for processing. This processing can dramatically improve stabilization, upgrade clarity, and reduce noise, and the improved clip is then sent back to your device. Depending on the video length, this could take minutes or you might have to wait overnight. 

Still, the results were startling when I was shown a comparison clip alongside an iPhone 14 Pro. The Pixel 8 Pro’s video in similar low light was dramatically clearer, brighter, more colorful, and better stabilized. It’ll be exciting to see how this works, but it won’t be available at launch. 

Again, none of the aforementioned features are things that you can’t currently do with other tools, but the ability to democratize them and make them accessible for the cost of a smartphone—without requiring any technical know-how—made me stare. You can read more about the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and Pixel Watch 2 here. These smarts aren’t the only AI features Google talked about—read more about its announcement around upgrading Google Assistant with Bard here.

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