The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a fine phone at $999. It’s got a great display, a good design, a bunch of AI features, and thr promise of updates over a long period of time.
I’ve been using the phone since launch and am getting accustomed to the new Google Photos features like Best Take and the improved Magic Eraser. I like the fact that I can get a great group photo without worrying if someone’s eyes are closed or isn’t ready for the photo. But the experience of using these features isn’t what I was expecting.
It’s all about the experience
Google integrated a bunch of AI features into the Google Photos app for editing your shots. I like having the ability to make my photos better with a few taps, but using those features is frustrating. While Pixels haven’t been the fastest phones ever, I expect my phone to be reliable. However, using Best Take or Magic Eraser on the Pixel 8 Pro is a disappointing and unreliable experience.
When interacting with these AI features, you need to go to the Google Photos app, select Editand go to Tools. After that, you wait for the phone to scan the image and suggest the edits accordingly. For instance, Best Take appears after a loading time of 1 to 3 seconds. I’m fine with the Pixel 8 Pro taking time to load the suggestions on edits, but I’m not OK with it processing a change for up to 7 seconds.
On a group photo, I select Tools and wait for Best Take to appear. After that, it takes another couple of seconds to load the suggestions for faces, which is perfectly fine because no other phone lets me do that. Once that’s done, I select a face and the edit I like, which is fairly instantaneous. But then the phone takes another 3 to 5 seconds to process it and show the result. I select Save a copy and wait for a couple of seconds to have the changes appear in my final photo. This process can take anywhere from 10 to 12 seconds.
Best Take might be a first-gen thing, but Magic Eraser isn’t, and it still takes up to 5 seconds to load the suggestions. In the meantime, you can’t interact with the photo to circle the objects you want to remove because it gives you the option to do that only after loading its own suggestions. And it sometimes fails at it.
I’ve had instances where Best Take didn’t show up till the next day for a photo I edited. You can wait for a few seconds and just sit there disappointed because the phone won’t load the icon for you to select to use the feature. It’s not an ideal experience to interact with Google’s new AI features in Photos for the Pixel 8 Pro. There’s a lot of friction between the user and the phone. And it’s unreliable.
Then there are suggestions at the bottom for you to tap on and edit your photo easily. I’m glad my phone thinks blurring the background would make my photo look better, but I’m not OK waiting 7 seconds after selecting “Blur background” to be presented with the scroller to change the amount of blur.
The new AI features are a gimmick
The Pixel 8 Pro is giving me Photoshop-level editing abilities at my fingertips with Best Take, Magic Eraser, and other suggestions, which I appreciate. But using these features takes me back to early 2010s loading times. Remember when a webpage used to take up to 10 seconds to load? This feels like that. If Google wants people to actually use its new AI advancements, it needs to make the process quicker.
For now, the new AI features feel gimmicky. You are likely to use them for a few days initially, but forget about them later.
You shouldn’t buy a Google Pixel 8 series phone just for the ability to edit photos quickly; the process isn’t quick at all and it’s frustrating at best. I feel like I’m better off not using these features for leisure and only when I’m in need. These are good to have, but not something that you can’t live without. The Pixel 8 Pro has plenty of other reasons to warrant a purchase, but the new AI features aren’t one of them.