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Setting up a new phone can be overwhelming, especially those that offer as many features as the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. After all, software is one of the top selling points for Google’s Pixel phones. These two phones brought a slew of new features to the table when they were released in 2019. Android 10 (and Android 11) have introduced some of the features for the wider Android phone population, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, are packed with great tricks and unique features that set them apart from the rest.
But which ones do you want and which ones are fluff? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? We’ll cover you! We’ve rounded up the most important settings that you need to change immediately on your new device to get the most out of your Pixel 4 phone.
How to skip the lock screen with face unlock
The Pixel 4’s face unlock allows you to unlock the phone and stay on the lock screen until you swipe up after authentication is successful. Unlocking without going directly to the home screen provides an iPhone-like lock screen experience as the phone can hide notification contents until your face is recognized. Then just swipe the screen to bring up the phone. By default, the phone will automatically bypass the lock screen and go straight to the home screen.
To choose your preference, go to Settings> Security> Face Unlock and turn off the skip lock screen so the phone will wait for you to go to the home screen before you swipe up.
Here’s how to enable ongoing conversation in Google Assistant
The Google Assistant has always shown a strong propensity for conversation and natural language recognition. One of the best features to demonstrate this is ongoing conversation. If this function is activated, the Google Assistant will wait for another language after an initial query or command. While this has been a smart speaker option for a while, this is the launch of that feature on a smartphone.
It’s turned off by default, but turning it on is as easy as going to Settings> Apps and Notifications> Assistant and switching to Continued Conversation.
How to enable the dark theme
Regardless of what color Pixel 4 you are, the dark theme can be a great visual addition and is easy on the eyes, especially at night. Dark themes in Android have been around on third-party devices for a while, but they’ve been built into Pixel devices since Android 10. This can save you a bit of battery life too.
Go to Settings> Ads and toggle the dark theme to take a look. You can also tap Schedule to set a custom time for the dark theme to turn on, or you can also set it to turn on and off at sunset and sunrise.
How to identify songs around you with Now Playing
Now, gaming is a hidden gem only available on Pixel phones. The feature introduced in Pixel 2 recognizes and identifies music around you and adds it to a neat, chronologically sorted archive that you can look back on later. No internet connection is required, so the battery effect won’t be felt, but neither will it identify every song you hear – whether you’re in a coffee shop or in a store. You can discreetly identify songs, send them to the master log, or have the song names displayed on the lock screen.
To see these songs on the lock screen, go to Settings> Sound> Advanced> Now Playing and enable the Show on lock screen option. On the same screen, you can view the main log under Current Playback History.
Use Live Caption to subtitle audio and videos
Live Caption is another feature that leverages Google’s artificial intelligence ability to annotate audio messages and videos for times when listening is not an option. Live Caption works in all apps except phone calls and video chats. You can even mask the profanity and turn on sound lettering for things like laughter. Currently, the feature only works in English, but more languages will be available soon, as will support for the Pixel 3 line and other Android 10 and 11 devices.
Fortunately, there is a very quick and easy way to access it. All you have to do is press the volume down button on the side of the phone. Under the volume slider on the screen, you’ll see an icon at the bottom that looks like lines of text in a box. Tap this icon to turn live subtitles on or off. To control the settings for this feature, go to Settings> Sound> Live Caption.
How to use non-contact gestures with Motion Sense
The Pixel 4’s Motion Sense feature brings radar technology to the fold and enables gesture-based interactions that don’t involve picking up or touching the phone. This includes waving over the phone to turn off an alarm, turn off a call, or skip a track, as well as reaching out to the phone to check notifications. As we note in our review, waving to turn off an alarm is a feature we love because it’s way too simple. If you’re a chronic snoozer, this is either your best friend or your (or maybe the worst) enemy of your work.
To turn on Motion Sense, tap Settings> System> Motion Sense, where you can choose your gestures.
How to activate Flip to Shhh to enter quickly doesn’t bother
To help you minimize distractions from your phone, Flip to Shhh puts your Pixel in Do Not Disturb mode when the phone is hidden on a flat surface. First introduced in Google Pixel 3, it does exactly what you expect and helps you free your phone from your thoughts in a quick, intuitive, and pointless way.
To enable this, go to Settings> System> Gestures> Switch to Shhh and turn it on.
So bring back the three button navigation bar
With Android 10, Google officially switched to gesture-based navigation by default. It works in a similar way to the iPhone’s gestures, but the back function is a unique problem for Android. There are currently slide-over menus that are usually accessed by swiping back – the same gesture that is now used as the back function acts. These menus must now be accessed by tapping on the left edge of the screen and holding it down for a long time until you can drag to the right to access the menu hidden below. These menus can also usually be accessed via a hamburger menu icon in the corner of the app’s interface, so you don’t have to use that gesture if you don’t want to. But if you miss it and the traditional three button navigation bar, you can definitely get it back.
Go to Settings> System> Gestures> System Navigation and choose between three button navigation and gesture navigation. Be aware that you may have trouble getting the Google Assistant to work right now.
How to customize the style of your user interface
When it comes to tweaking the look of your phone, third-party launcher apps and manufacturer skins like OxygenOS from OnePlus offer tons of customization options. Google’s new Pixel Style option is the first attempt to infiltrate this area. You can choose from accent colors for the user interface, a handful of fonts, icon shape, and some background images.
Open to choose your style Settings> Display> Styles and Backgrounds to customize your pixel experience.
So turn on 90 Hz all the time
Please note: Activating this feature will significantly reduce the already limited battery life of your Pixel 4. The screen of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL supports a refresh rate of 90 Hz, which means that it delivers 90 frames per second. For comparison: most conventional telephones only offer 60 fps. The higher refresh rate makes scrolling, gaming, and using the UI much more responsive in general. Unfortunately, even with this enabled (it does by default, but you can check this by going to Settings> Display> Advanced> Smooth display), Google limits the use of 90 Hz so it is not always on (for battery saving measures). Fortunately, there is a way to override this.
First of all, you need to enable the developer options. Go to Settings> About phone and tap Build number several times until you see a note that says you turned on developer options. Now go back and go to System> Advanced> Developer Options> Force 90 Hz Refresh Rate. Tap on it and turn it on. Your user experience should be much smoother by now, but you will also find that the battery drains much faster.