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Key Takeaways

  • Google's Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro offer AI-powered editing features that make your photos feel like cheating.
  • The new Best Take feature lets you swap faces in group photos to create the perfect shot using Google's Tensor G3 processor.
  • To use Best Take, select a series of group photos in the Google Photos app, choose the best shot, and tap on the Tools option to access Best Take.

Google's new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are two fantastic Android phones that offer strong performance and battery life that's good enough for long days not to mention at times, an unrealistic camera experience.

That camera experience I'm referring to involves several new AI-powered editing features that can quickly make it feel like any picture or video you take on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro feels like you're cheating.

There's a new Audio Magic Eraser tool that removes unwanted noise from video or the Magic Editor tool that essentially automates Photoshop-like edits with just a couple of taps on your phone's screen. Then there's Best Take, a feature that lets you swap out people's faces in group photos where you've taken multiple shots to get the best all-around photo, something even our Apple loyalists here at Pocket-lint wish their iPhone models would adopt.

Below, I'll walk you through what Best Take is and how it works. Based on a week or so of testing, I'll offer some sage advice on how to get the most out of it.


What is the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro's new Best Take feature?

During the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro unveiling, Google discussed the new Best Take feature and how it'll improve your group photos. Best Take is an editing tool in the Photos app that looks for similar photos. It then analyzes the faces in the photo and can magically isolate them and present them to you as a thumbnail, ready to be swapped in and out of the photo you're editing.

In other words, let's say you take a group picture of some family members. As we all know, group pictures usually consist of tapping the shutter button a few times to ensure you have at least one good shot out. But we also all know that there's usually not a perfect shot. Instead, the first photo may have someone not looking at the camera, while another picture has someone not smiling, and the final picture was taken just as someone blinked.

With Best Take, you're able to take the best overall shot, and the cut/paste in the face you think makes for the best photo, for all involved, and you end up with a photo that, when the Pixel does it right, looks like you wanted it to in the first place.

How does Best Take work on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro?

Best Take is a feature that's exclusive to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro because it requires Google's Tensor G3 processor, which is currently only found in the Pixel 8 series.

The Tensor G3 is Google's newest chip for its mobile devices, and according to the company, the G3 provides all the necessary AI and ML smarts required to power features like Best Take, Magic Audio Eraser, and Magic Editor.


According to a Google post on its blog, The Keyword, the G3 runs "more than twice as many machine learning models," and it does it all on the device. Those models are what powers features like Best Take and Magic Editor.

In other words, the machine learning and AI prowess of the Tensor G3 make Best Take and the rest of the editing features possible on the Pixel 8.

How to use Best Take on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro

You can use Best Take immediately after taking a few group photos or on pictures that are already in your Google Photos library. I can't emphasize enough how cool it is that you can go back and use the feature on old group photos and not just photos taken on the Pixel 8 itself. I've tested it on both types of pictures, and the feature works the same.

To try Best Take, open the Google Photos app on your Pixel 8 and scroll through your photo library for a series of group pictures. I've found the best success when there are three or four pictures of a group, only because it gives you more editing options.


Once you've found a series of photos, pick the one you like the best but would be improved by swapping a face or two, then tap the Edit button. Next, select Tools followed by Best Take, which should be the first option on the left side of the screen.

Side note: The first time you access the Tools menu, you may see an alert letting you know your phone needs to be connected to Wi-Fi to download the new tools. If that appears for you and you are connected to Wi-Fi, close out of the Photos app and then go back in; the tools should be available now. Otherwise, revisit the tools page once you're connected to Wi-Fi.

If Best Take doesn't show up after you've selected a picture, it's because after analyzing the picture and related photos, your Pixel determined Best Take won't work on that picture.

After selecting Best Take, your phone will go to work, and you'll see an animation at the bottom of the screen along with the text "Finding similar shots to improve photo." At the same time, your Pixel analyzes similar photos, extracts the different faces, and creates the thumbnails for you to pick from.

When it's ready, you'll see a series of small circular thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, one for each person in the picture. Tap on each thumbnail to access the various faces you can swap in and out for that respective person. Selecting a different face makes the change in real-time in the picture above the thumbnails.

The first few times I tried Best Take, I thought it wasn't working because the change was happening so fast, and sometimes only the lighting on the face changes between each picture, thus making the changes very subtle and hard to see without paying close attention.

Work your way through each person and their respective faces, and when you're happy with the new photo, select Done at the bottom of the screen. From there, you can make more edits or tap Save Copy to have a fresh copy saved to your Photos library.

Set yourself up for success when using Best Take on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro

Whether you're the one snapping the group pic or having someone else take it for you, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to ensure Best Take can work its magic. First and foremost, try not to move the camera around a lot between shots. Doing so changes the angle, lighting, and shadows and can produce some weird artifacts and errors when the Pixel swaps faces in and out of a picture.

Look at the photo below. It shows different options for my face, some of which have an arm going across it, as is the case in the picture I selected to edit. But the problem I encounter when applying any of the other faces to the picture is that my head shrinks down to be comically small, and the arm is still present, just not covering my face.

pixel 8 best take photo editing feature fails

The shorter the time between each photo, the better. Waiting too long between pictures will change a lot of different factors of the shot, and it could lead to Best Take not even being available. Likewise, don't take a bunch of pictures in a burst. You'll end up with many copies of the same photo, and Best Take won't benefit you.

Instead, I'd recommend spacing out the timing between each photo to around a full second, maybe half. That gives your group time to adjust their smiles, gazes, and whatever else happens when taking a group picture.

pixel 8 can't combine photos

Finally, if you're too far away from the group and the faces in the photo are small, Best Take won't work. In one photo, Best Take wouldn't work for me outdoors when I was around 20 feet away.

Bonus tip: It works on individual photos, too

Google doesn't mention it, but Best Take works on pictures of a single person. So if you take a handful of photos of someone and there's one that you like their smile, but there's another element of the picture you're not very fond of, use Best Take to combine the two pictures, giving you the main photo you like the most while swapping out their face to get it just right.