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The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro were announced at last week’s Made by Google hardware event, but they’ve only just begun to reach the doorsteps of most buyers today. Now that the phones have officially launched, Google published the factory images and code needed to compile your own Android build from source, so we at Android Authority dug into the code to see if there’s anything interesting about the phones that we may have missed. Indeed, we discovered that Google scrapped several features for the Pixel 8 before launch, including two minor camera features and one major productivity feature.
The one productivity feature Google cut that really grinds my gears is desktop mode support. Back in June, Android Authority contributor Kamila Wojciechowska reported that the Pixel 8 series would gain support for DisplayPort over USB-C. This feature, known as DisplayPort Alternate Mode, lets devices connect to external displays via USB-C and is what makes desktop mode experiences like Samsung DeX possible.
Unfortunately, it seems that Google (once again) chose not to ship DisplayPort Alt. Mode support on a Pixel, as connecting a Pixel 8 to an external monitor results in nothing happening. Even the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max — which are part of Apple’s first iPhone lineup to even have a USB-C port — mirror the screen when connected to an external display.
As for why Google chose not to enable DisplayPort Alt. Mode on the Pixel 8 series, my best guess is that it didn’t want to enable it until Android’s desktop mode revamp is complete, which might not happen until the next Android release.
On the bright side, it might be possible for tinkerers to enable DisplayPort Alt. Mode on the Pixel 8. We’ll have to wait for brave modders to get their hands on the device, though.
When Android Authority contributor Kamila Wojciechowska leaked the camera specs for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, she said that the primary sensor would support 8K/30fps video capture, as would the ISP in the Google Tensor G3 chip. However, she cautioned that 8K/30fps video capture “might not make its way to users,” and she was right: both phones can only record at up to 4K/60fps. The reason is not because the hardware isn’t capable of it, but rather that the software isn’t ready.
According to the code changes we reviewed, Google has been working on adding an 8K video encoder profile for the Tensor G3 since last year. This encoder profile would’ve been used by the Google Camera app to output 8K/30fps videos using the h264 codec. Google at first had trouble testing this encoder because it had yet to bring up 8K support in the Tensor G3’s ISP. It’s unclear whether that’s still an issue, but in any case, Google seems to be still working on the feature — just not for this generation of Pixel devices.
One code change in June says that 8K “won’t be shipped on P23 devices,” so it was necessary to remove the 8K video encoder profile from the launch build. However, that same code change says that 8K support will be re-enabled “on udc-qpr-dev” so that Google can “continue developing 8K using P23 devices.”
The Pixel 8 series is capable of recording slow-motion video at up to 1080p/240fps, but Google at one point planned to enable support for capturing 720p/480fps slow-motion videos. Those plans were quickly scrapped, however. It’s unclear why Google didn’t move forward with this, but it was “descoped” at some point before November 15 last year.
And that’s it for features we found that didn’t make the cut. Let us know in the comments below if you’d like to see Google re-enable some of these features!