The Google Pixel isn’t just another Android phone. Google packed some seriously cool and unique features into this device.
Whether you’ve just received a new Pixel for Christmas or simply want to learn more about your phone, these features are guaranteed to enhance your user experience.
Note for this tutorial we used a Pixel 4a running the latest Android 11 version.
1. Silence Notifications When You Place Your Phone Down
Need to focus on something and don’t want any distractions? The Pixel offers an easy solution to get some peace and quiet. Activate the “Flip to Shhh” option to trigger a Do Not Disturb mode, which silences notifications and other distractions whenever your phone is face down on a flat surface.
Do Not Disturb is part of Google’s Digital Wellbeing, so if you need more help with minimizing distractions while you work, you can take a look at the other options that are part of the package by visiting “Settings -> Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.”
2. Storage saver
With base storage of 64GB for all Pixel 4 models, you may find yourself running out of space before long. Google’s Pixel phones have a feature called Storage Saver that proactively manages the storage on your phone by doing things like deleting photos and videos that have been backed up after a set period of time.
Make sure to enable Smart Storage in Settings > Storage > Smart Storage. You can pick between waiting 30, 60 or 90 days before removing the local copy of photos.
3. Add Captions to Any Audio
Another useful tool on your Pixel is that it can add live captions to any audio that is playing on your phone. To activate this option, go to “Settings -> Accessibility -> Live Caption.” Toggle on the “Live Caption” option.
Under Live Caption, you’ll find additional options – for example, Caption calls. This service provides live captions when you’re on the phone with someone. It’s enabled by default, although your Pixel will ask you if you want captions every time you get a call unless you instruct it otherwise. If you don’t want this, you can turn the feature off from here.
4. Know What’s Playing
Your Google Pixel comes with a Shazam-like feature baked in. It’s called “Now Playing,” and you can activate it by going to “Settings -> Display -> Lock screen -> Now Playing.” Next, toggle on the “Show songs on lock screen” feature. From here, you can also add a Now Playing shortcut to your home screen for easy access to your listening history.
5. View Notifications Using Your Fingerprint
If you often use your phone one-handed, you’re going to like this trick. It allows you to view notifications without having to swipe your finger from the top of the display. Instead, you can swipe on your fingerprint sensor at the back of the phone, which is much more comfortable when you don’t have both hands free.
First, turn the feature on. You can do this by going to “Settings -> System -> Gestures -> Swipe Fingerprint for Notifications.” Enable the feature from there.
6. Quick share in the camera app
When you take a picture in the camera app, you might notice a small thumbnail with an arrow next to it. This is a new feature called Social Share that provides shortcuts to quickly share the photo you just captured to a handful of social apps.
The first time you tap on the arrow, you’ll be asked to turn on the apps or services you want to see in the Social Share drawer. Going forward, any time you tap on the arrow, icons for the apps you’ve added will be available in the drawer.
7. Take Advantage of the Built-in VPN
Connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks is quite a dangerous affair, but Pixel owners have a set of tools in place that can protect them from such unpleasantness.
The phone includes a feature that enables auto-connection to public Wi-Fi hotspots, which when activated simultaneously pairs with a VPN managed by Google. To find it, go to “Settings -> Network & Internet -> Wi-Fi -> Wi-Fi preferences.” Enable “Connect to open networks” to automatically connect to high-quality public networks.
8. Create Custom Themes
Google allows Pixel users to customize their devices in various ways. For example, you can easily make custom themes. To get started, head to “Settings -> Display -> Styles & wallpapers” or long-press on the home screen and tap on “Styles & wallpapers” from the menu that appears.
9. Be Prepared in Case of Emergency
Newer Pixel models come with an app called Safety pre-installed. This service lets you set an emergency contact who will be allowed access to your phone without having to unlock it. You can also add vital information in the app, such as any allergies you may be suffering from, medications you are on, or whether you’re an organ donor.
You can also enable automatic crash detection, a feature that alerts emergency responders, as well as your contacts, that you’ve been in an accident. Right now the option only works for owners of the Pixel 3 (and above) who live in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
10. Force your display to run at 90Hz
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL both offer stunning displays with 90Hz refresh rates. What this means is that the screen refreshes content 90 times per second rather than the standard rate of 60 times per second. The difference is most noticeable when you’re playing games and scrolling through content. But it remains a nice-to-have feature.
It was discovered that the Pixel 4’s 90Hz refresh rate isn’t on at all times, and is only present when the display brightness is above 75 percent. That has since been tweaked with Google’s November Android 10 update. If you’d rather throw caution to the wind and enable your phone’s 90Hz refresh rate at all times, there’s an option to force the 90Hz refresh rate through the Developer Options in the Settings menu.