tips and tricks Google Pixel and Pixel XL

tips and tricks Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Become a master of the Google phone
WE’VE SPENT a couple of months with the Google Pixel, and we like to think we know it quite well. We previously uncovered some of Android 7.0 Nougat’s secrets, but here we’ll focus on the Pixel proper.
Here’s a smattering of tips and tricks designed to help you master your Pixel or Pixel XL.

1. Switch off app suggestions – Swiping up from the bottom of the screen reveals the Pixel’s app drawer. Here apps are presented in alphabetical order, save for the uppermost row where a line of suggested apps lives.
Long-press the Home screen and select ‘Settings’. From there you can turn off ‘App suggestions’ (which when enabled may slowly sap your data allowance), in addition to hiding the Google app which we’ll cover next.

2. Customise the Google feed – Swiping right from the Home screen will show you a Google stream curated just for you. Here Google shows you cards for the weather forecast, upcoming calendar entries and other content it thinks you want to see.

There are several preferences to tinker with – start with the Hamburger menu (top left) and click ‘Customise’. This is where you can see the kinds of information Google stores on you, including location, travel preferences, apps, websites visited, sports, stocks, TV and films (and anything else) in which you’ve previously expressed an interest.

You can share as little or as much information as you’re comfortable with here, or (as per our previous tip) hide the Google app completely.

3. Turn on the notification light – We’ll admit it. We didn’t realise the Pixel had a notification light until one helpful INQ reader pointed it out to us. Google doesn’t make it easy to find – it’s hidden behind the Settings cog in the Device > Notifications menu. Use the slider to activate and have your notifications pulse a different colour depending on their type.

4. Quickly launch the camera – Google has included a number of movement-based shortcuts in the Pixel for people who like doing things differently. The following three tips all require the use of the Device > Moves menu.

Flick the ‘Jump to Camera’ slider to enable the camera shortcut. It doesn’t matter where you are in the OS, a double-press of the power button will launch the camera.

5. Twist to take a selfie – Fans of taking selfies will want to enable the ‘Flip camera’ shortcut. When using the rear camera a quick double twist of the wrist will switch in and out of selfie mode.

6. Swipe for notifications – This allows you to use the rear-mounted fingerprint reader to dip in and out of the notification shade and view any new alerts. Swiping up and down scrolls the view. Switch this on and we guarantee you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

7. Change the role of the volume key – Delving into the Camera > Settings menu allows you to temporarily reassign the role of the volume keys when using the camera app, for example using the up and down keys to control the zoom or fire the shutter.

8. Unlock the phone using your face – You can train Google to recognise your voice or your face, detect a location or a trusted device to control the lock status of a Pixel handset.

The ‘Smart Lock’ settings can be found by navigating through the Personal > Security menus. From there it’s a case of enabling the mode of your choosing.

The phone can be unlocked just by looking at it, saying ‘OK Google’, detecting when it’s about your person and more.

9. Schedule the Night Light – Early builds of Android 7.0 Nougat had a night mode that filters sleep-disrupting blue light from the display. Google’s Pixel phones have this functionality and it can be accessed easily from the Quick Settings tray.

Alternatively, if you want it to switch on automatically just head to the settings located in Device > Display > Night Light where you can specify a time, a customised schedule, or link it to the rising and setting of the sun.

10. Burst photos – Burst capture is nothing new, but Google’s phone takes a burst of shots and then uses AI to select the most pleasing result. You can always intervene and choose the final result manually if you wish.

Activating it is easy: just hold down the shutter key in the camera app for a brief spell.

11. 3D Touch (a version) – Android may lack the iPhone’s 3D Touch tricks, but the Pixel adds its own variation on that pressure-sensitive functionality.

Long-pressing on certain apps will reveal quick, context-sensitive options. For instance, pressing on the Calendar app will allow you to create new events or reminders, and the dialler shows you a list of your most recent contacts. There are tons more, so see what you can find.

12. Fix camera lens flare (but not yet) – Early adopters may have found that the Pixel’s camera is heavy-handed with ‘halo/arc flare’ effects, causing some commenters to joke whether J J Abrams had anything to do with it.

The problem is limited to a specific kind of flare that appears as a bright/low-contrast arc in the corners of the frame, but Google has reassured us that a software fix is incoming.