Thursday, December 7, 2023

Gemini AI - Google's semi-soft 'secret' launch is Now Live

‘Gemini Nano’

Pixel 8 Pro the first smartphone with AI built in — is now running Gemini Nano

…With more AI updates coming to the Pixel portfolio very soon.

By Jonathan Black

A new Feature Drop brings a lot of fun perks and updates to make your favorite smartphone even more helpful, productive and personalized - which ultimately translates to tinkering with tech specs and settings more than some care for. Let's be honest, there are many times that updates can create a larger inconvenience than it seems they're worth. 

But, let's fast forward to a whole new class of updates, this dropping in the form of Gemini Nano which now powers on-device generative AI features for Pixel 8 Pro. 

 The twist here is in one of the more genius moves I've seen at the hands of Google/Alphabet in their secretive "semi-soft launch"  of the technology which was already programmed into the hardware of the Pixel 8 Pro, being unique to a single device in the Pixel portfolio. The 8 Pro is already running the new AI code and will see the results via a few new feature updates dropping for December - a strong motivator for those who haven't upgraded to take the chance now while holiday sales are available. 

As a proud Pixel 8 Pro owner, Pixel Buds Pro fan and the not-so-excited owner a Pixel Watch 2 I have to admit while I know the endgame will yield massive results for the future of Google and the space of generate AI technology itself, being the only device to house the new addition gives me a sense of excitement and adventure into new territory overpowered by a growing ambivalence. 

At first, I purchased the device from it's market release only to find many features advertised and highlighted in the Google Store launch event Livestream to be unavailable and advised they would follow in future updates. 

For the most part, they have. However, the shining promise of the partnering of "Google Assistant with Bard" in even wider expansion early next year held my attention long enough to not so much as blindly guess that after the Pixel purchase I'd then be privy to the uprising of an AI program that for all arguments sake was essentially hidden from me all the while and kept secret. 

This surprise doesn't feel full on forceful or underhanded, but it does land all of us Pixel 8 Pro "Superfans" in the same group. That being, a test audience. And while I don't mind being a part of the first wave - and often an lucky enough to work on projects featuring emerging tech - it still feels uncomfortable when this wasn't something known before laying down the cold hard cash for the device. 

This could very well be a game changer for many and might have resulted in a decision to skip this model and delay their upgrade to the Pixel 9 Pro, who's release is already in the running. 

Personally, I'm not in the camp of thought that I would have waited, but there were a lot of reasons that factor into why I held tightly to my Pixel 6 Pro in favor of passing by the 7 Pro. I still have my 6 Pro and use it daily, knowing my choice was smart for my needs and usage. I wouldn't have been happy with 7. It's just the truth. It's the same reason I traded in a great up 6a that I purchased on the side for work purposes. It was a device I loathed on a daily basis and had you told me it was even in the same ballpark as the same generation Pro I was utilizing non-stop I would have been hard pressed to believe it. 

Regardless, time moves on and today Google introduced Gemini, hailing it “the most capable and flexible AI model we’ve ever built.”

 With three different sizes — Ultra, Pro and Nano — Gemini is optimized to run on everything from data centers to smartphones. 

“Gemini Nano is our most efficient model built for on-device tasks, and starting today, it's running on Pixel 8 Pro. As the first smartphone engineered for Gemini Nano, it uses the power of Google Tensor G3 to deliver two expanded features: Summarize in Recorder and Smart Reply in Gboard

We're further informed that by design, Gemini Nano helps prevent sensitive data from leaving the phone, as well as offering the ability to use features without a network connection. 

Additionally, with Gemini Nano now running on-device, the entire family of Gemini models will unlock new capabilities for the Assistant with Bard experience early next year on Pixel.”

These new features and other updates for productivity and customization will begin rolling out today on Pixel phone, tablet, and smartwatch.

As for the successful landing on this multi-billion dollar leap of faith, I suppose only time will tell. Truth be told and as big of a Google fan as I am, we all know very well Google isn't afraid to show swift action when sunsetting a project. This can be evidenced in the archives of the "Google Graveyard" and more recently in the demise of Google Domains and, in its official end commencing next year, Google Podcasts. 

Fingers crossed for a keeper in Gemini and a lack of remorse in gauging the upgraded purchase as "Superfans" now can newly be dubbed the 'generative guinea pigs. '

As always, this has been... 

A Jonathan Black Observation

A Jonathan Black Observation
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