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Google Pixel 8’s AI wallpaper is its best customization feature, here’s why I feel so

AI wallpapers has officially joined the list of features I want to see standard across all Android devices.

At Google’s I/O event in May, AI was everywhere you looked, but one feature stood out to me more than the others – AI generated wallpapers. While most AI image generators are just fun toys for people to experiment with, Google decided to do something different with the technology and integrate it into Android 14, or at least the Google Pixel version of it. As soon as I got my hands on the Google Pixel 8, I was eager to try out this exciting feature and see what it could do. Here’s my experience.

For a company whose search engine can find you thousands of images from all over the web, the Google Pixel’s built-in catalogue of wallpapers that one can access from the Wallpaper & style section can feel a bit…limiting.

Android 14 spices things up by allowing users to virtually pick between an infinite set of wallpapers, thanks to generative AI’s magical ability to produce something unique with each prompt. The OS also clearly wants you to try out this feature, as it places it at the top of the wallpapers section right next to the emoji wallpapers feature released earlier.

Instead of letting you type out your own prompt from scratch, the AI wallpapers feature gives you some guidance and shows you a carousel of categories like Imaginary, Luminous, Night, Terrain, and Volcanic. Tapping on any of these categories reveals a pre-engineered prompt with some words that you can customise. It may seem limiting at first, but once you start playing around with it, you realise that each word combination can produce a wildly different wallpaper.

Each word has a set of presets that you can tap on to replace the word and generate a new wallpaper. Each prompt generates multiple wallpapers that you can swipe through.

Creating wallpapers like these requires a lot of computing power. Although we have seen phones generate images on-device before, this feature relies on Google’s computers. In other words, the images are created by Google off-device, and then you download what Google creates. That means you need the internet to use this feature.

But the tool still isn’t perfect. Some word combinations are too weird or vague for even an AI to visualise, like “A surreal palace made of cotton in shades of blue and indigo,” which doesn’t seem to register the word “cotton” at all. Plus it doesn’t help that these wallpapers are not exactly 4K quality, and they look especially pixelated when they try to render more complex objects. You might want to stick to simpler categories like Night and Volcano, which produce more abstract and less detailed wallpapers.

My personal favourite prompt was “Abstract gray mountain with clouds” from the Night category, which matched my love for moody aesthetics perfectly. Unfortunately, I couldn’t save it to my gallery or share it with anyone, because Google doesn’t allow that. The only way to keep your favorite wallpapers is to set them as your home screen, and they will be stored in the “Your AI wallpapers” section.

This feature is currently exclusive to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, so if you don’t have one of those devices, you’re out of luck. Maybe other brands will follow Google’s lead and offer their own versions of generative AI wallpapers in the future.

It remains to be seen if Google will let other devices use this feature besides the Pixel – it’s only for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro right now – but you can still expect other brands to give their own spin to the generative AI wallpapers trend.

To try this feature on your Pixel, just press and hold on your home screen, tap on Wallpaper & style, tap More wallpapers, and go to the AI wallpaper section.

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