So, you got yourself a Google Pixel. You’ve set it up, downloaded some apps, and taken a few dozen pictures. Now what?
Chances are you’ve already developed your own tips and tricks. But for those of you who just picked the device up, we have some cool pointers to turn you into a Pixel master.
From quickly freeing up space to turning on the System UI Tuner, below are ten tips and tricks for your new Google Pixel.
Add emergency info to your lock screen
I don’t have to explain why having emergency contact information stored in your phone is important. The problem, however, is making this information easily accessible to first responders.
We take such pains to keep our phones secure—fingerprint security and numerical pass codes—that accessing this information is becoming harder and harder. Which is fine, except when a paramedic needs to contact your friends and family.
Luckily, the Pixel makes it simple to access emergency info on your lock screen, things like your name, date of birth, blood type, and contacts. With this feature turned on, you run the risk of making personal information accessible to strangers, but having it available could be important in an emergency.
To turn this on, go to Settings > Users > Emergency information. The feature will show a button on the lock screen that will show emergency information that your input into the device.
Toggle your LED notification light
These days, ambient and always-on displays provide users with gentle reminders that messages and notifications have arrived. But if you prefer more old fashioned methods, the Pixel hides a little notification LED in the top speaker. Remember those?
The beauty of LED notifications is that you’ll know when a message comes in even when your phone is on silent. It’s a nice visual reminder that an email or text has is waiting for you.
Sadly, Google doesn’t allow users to change the color or frequency but it’s still a nice alternative to the Pixel’s ambient display.
To turn this on, go to Settings > Notifications, and then tap the gear icon in the top-right corner. Next, simply toggle the “Pulse notification light.”
Long press on apps for shortcuts
Google’s long-press “launcher” shortcuts make Apple’s 3D touch feature seem silly. Similar to the iPhone, the Pixel offers contextual app shortcuts that make performing certain actions really easy.
For example, long-pressing on the camera icon will bring up options to take a video or take a selfie. These shortcuts cut down on the time you’d spend opening an app, navigating to a particular settings, and then performing an action.
Best of all, it doesn’t require you to press any harder on the screen like Apple’s 3D touch. You can argue that these launcher shortcuts aren’t particularly useful but they add nuance and depth to frequently used app features.
In order to see this feature in action, simply long-press on an app and watch as a shortcut menu pops up.
Enable the System UI Tuner
Longtime Android users know all about the System UI Tuner. With this feature turned on, you can tweak even more settings, such as do not disturb options and notifications controls.
Why do I turn it on? Because it lets me clean up the status bar at the top of the phone. I can show or hide common icons, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and more. Doing this doesn’t add any functionality to your phone but if you prefer not to have icons cluttering up your status bar it’s an easy way to clean it up.
To turn on System UI Tuner, swipe down from the top of the screen to open Quick Settings, then long-press on the Settings gear icon at the top. If successful, you’ll see a tiny wrench next to the gear.
With the feature turned on, you’ll see the System UI Tuner in Settings.
Customize Quick Settings
Speaking of Quick Settings, you can easily customize which tiles go where. With the Quick Settings panel open, tap the edit button and start dragging and dropping the tiles to your heart’s content. If you have a lot of Quick Settings, they will overflow onto a second panel.
Quickly switch apps with a double press
Every Android user knows about the multi-tasking button. In the latest version of Android, there’s a little secret that lets users switch apps a little quicker than before. When you tap the multi-tasking button once, it’ll bring up a list of your most recent apps. But tap it a second time and you’ll jump right into your previously used app. It’s a small but very useful feature that makes jumping between two apps a piece of cake.
Enable Night Light
Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from displays can interrupt your natural circadian rhythms, which may result in a poor night’s sleep. In lieu of limiting your smartphone use before bed, the Pixel’s Night Light feature is a solid alternative.
With Night Light turned on, your display will emit a warmer glow, making it easier on your eyes. Trust me, you’ll fall in love with this feature once you start using it. Night Light can turn on/off from sunset to sunrise or you can specify a schedule that suits your needs; there’s also a tile for the feature in the Quick Settings menu.
To turn this feature on, go to Settings > Display > Night Light.
Use the camera shortcut
After lighting and aperture, timing is immensely important in photography. So, the next time your dog does something ridiculous, open the Pixel’s camera app quickly by executing this simple gesture.
When your phone is locked (or in an app), simply press the power button twice and the camera app will pop up. Easy peasy. This feature comes in handy when you need to launch the camera app quickly, like if your kid is taking his/her first steps.
Say hello to Google Assistant
The brains of the Pixel is Google Assistant, a powerful AI capable of answering questions, setting alarms, and more. But before Assistant starts answering your questions, you have to introduce yourself.
Setting Google Assistant up will not only help familiarize you with what it can do, but Assistant will keep an ear out for your voice. So, the next time you say, “Ok Google,” Assistant will come to life. Assistant can also be accessed by long-pressing the home button.
Free up storage
One of the Pixel’s best exclusives is unlimited Google Photos storage—and that’s for original photo quality. The point of backing up your photos is not only to have an emergency copy but to free up space on your phone. Just tap the “Free up space” option inside the app and every photo that’s been backed up will be deleted from your phone, giving you more space for music and movies.