The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are the latest phones from Google, a glittering showcase of Android 10’s new features, pushing new methods of interaction, new camera skills and a whole lot more.
In many ways, the Pixel 4 builds on everything that started in the Pixel 3 models, but there are little details you might miss. Here’s a deep dive into the Pixel 4 to help you get the most from your new Google phone.
Android 10 navigation tips
While Android 10 is available across Pixel devices – and on an increasing number of other Android phones – it makes a huge change to navigation on the Pixel. This started with Android 9 Pie, but there’s now a lot more happening as Google embraces gestures more and more and removes the notion of a home button. Android 10 just presents a small line indicating that something will interact with you when you tap or swipe.
How to access Overview: This has been refined since Android Pie. A slow swipe from the bottom about 1 cm/half an inch will see the display pop and your recent apps in cards will appear on the left. Too fast and you’ll be in the apps tray. You can then scroll horizontally through your apps.
Go back to the home screen: You can return how with a quick swipe up from the bottom. That just clears everything out of the way and take you back to your wallpaper.
How to open the apps tray: Yes, it’s still a swipe up from the bottom of the display, but with Overview in the mix, you’ll need a faster swipe. In fact, it’s the same swipe as used to return to the home screen. If you’re in an app and you want to access the apps tray, you’ll have to use a slower swipe, enter Overview and then swipe up.
Quickly switch apps: In Android Oreo and previous, a double tap on the recent apps button would switch between the current app and the previous app. That was replaced with a swipe on the home lozenge in Pie, and now it’s just a swipe across the bottom of the display. It now works left or right so you can easily skip back and forth between apps as much as you want.
Go back: A staple of Android navigation, with no back button, you can now swipe in from the left or right. This will action the “back” action on whatever screen you’re on, so that might be back in the browser, back in Instagram or back to the home screen if there’s no where else to go back to.
Change the sensitivity of gesture navigation: If you find things happen too easily by mistake, or not easily enough, then try changing the sensitivity of gestures. Head into settings > system > gestures > system navigation and you’ll see a settings option for gesture navigation.
Close all open apps view overview: To shut all your apps down, you can either swipe them all away to the top in Overview, or you can scroll all the way to the end of the list and tap “clear all”. That will clear out all your recent items.
Enable app suggestions: Android 10 has “suggestions” for apps you might want to use. These suggestions come from your app use, so it can suggest apps you might be trying to access quickly. You can find the option in home settings > suggestions if you want to turn them on or off.
Switch to 3-button navigation: If you just can’t handle the gestures, you can switch back to the old 3-button approach. Head into settings > system > gestures > system navigation and you’ll find the option.
Pixel 4 Motion Sense and face unlock tips
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have Google’s Soli radar chip in it and that means you have a range of new interaction options for your phone. It also offers face unlocking.
Setup face unlock: The face unlock option lives in settings > security > face unlock so you can find it if you didn’t choose this method of security when setting up your phone. This is also where you’d go to delete face data if you decide you no longer want it.
Skip the lock screen: You get the option of having a lock screen or not. This means that when you look at your phone and unlock it you can return to where you were before. However, if you’d rather than a lock screen (to protect your privacy perhaps when unlocking), you’ll find that option in settings > security > skip lock screen.
Turn on or off Motion Sense: The new radar system will detect your hand and take some actions without you touching the phone. Head into settings > system > Motion Sense to turn it on or off.
Show notifications when you reach for your phone: You don’t need the always-on display, because you just need to wave your hand at your phone. The Soli radar chip in the Pixel 4 can detect your hand and turn on the lock screen display to give you those details. Head into settings > system > gestures > Motion Sense and you’ll find the option for “reach to check phone”.
Skip tracks with a wave of the hand: When playing music, you just have to wave your hand past your phone’s display to skip tracks. To go forward, move your hand from right to left. You’ll see a glow at the top of the display when Motion Sense is detecting your hand.
Play with your Pokemon wallpaper: Change the wallpaper to Pokemon from the coming alive section and you’ll be able to use Motion Sense to interact with it. Tap the Pokemon to make them jump, show your palm to express your love. Double tap to change to another character.
Get more Pokemon fun: There’s a Motion Sense-powered Pokemon app you can install for a little more fun, called Pokemon Wave Hello. This lets you interact with a range of Pokemon. It’s like the wallpaper, but as a standalone app.
Home screen tips and tricks
The Pixel Launcher is a Pixel exclusive, giving you what Google thinks is Android’s best experience. It’s main aim is to serve up Google Assistant and the Google app loaded with information and news easily.
How to pick a live wallpaper: The Pixel offers a range of “live” wallpapers, with subtle active elements in them giving some movement to your home screen. Long press on the home screen and select styles & wallpapers. Then head to the “coming alive” section and you’ll find those live wallpapers, including the interactive Pokemon option.
Engage or disable searchbox effects: Press and hold on the searchbox at the bottom of the screen and a preferences box will appear. Within this is the option to enable or disable special effects. This basically puts Google Doodles in the search box when Google has something it wants to celebrate.
Get calendar and travel details at top of your home screen: The At a Glance feature will let you get calendar entries and travel information from Google onto your home screen so they are easy to see. Long press on your wallpaper on the home screen and tap “home screen settings”. Here you’ll find the option to turn on the information you want – calendar, flights, traffic.
Have your phone automatically recognise songs: Introduced on the Pixel 2 originally, this lets the phone listen to songs playing nearby and put the details on your lock screen. Head into settings > sounds > Now Playing to turn it on. You can also enable notifications for Now Playing. It’s all local too, so no data goes to Google.
View your Now Playing history and put a shortcut on your home screen: Identifying songs is fine, but when you get home, you’ll have forgotten what it was. Don’t worry, your Pixel has you covered. Head into sounds > Now Playing > Now Playing History. This lists all the songs your phone heard and the time it heard them. You can click on a song to play it – Spotify, Play Music, YouTube, etc. You can also place a shortcut on the home screen to make it easy to get to this area.
Enable or disable home screen rotation: Head into home settings > allow home screen rotation and you can view the home screen in landscape, rather than always viewing it in portrait.
Access Google app/Discover and customise it: Android has been pushing a page to the left of the home screen for many years. It was once Google Now, now it’s called Discover, a digest of topics you’ll find interesting. For each story you’re shown, you can tap the slider at the bottom to see more or less, or the menu button to block or say you don’t like that topic or publication. There’s also the option to customise Discover in this menu.
Turn off Discover/Google app: If you don’t want this digest, access home setting > display Google app and you can turn it off.
Engage the Android 10 dark theme: Head into settings > display and you’ll the dark theme toggle. There is now just the option to turn it on or off, but unlike Android 9, it’s now system-wide, so it will also force apps offering dark mode to switch that on too. If you want to turn off dark mode for individuals apps after turning on dark theme, you’ll have to do that individually in each app.
Enable and control app notification dots: These will put dots on your apps so you know when you have a notification to deal with. Long press on the wallpaper and hit home settings > notification dots. Within here you also get a list of recent notifications allowing you to customise whether they can show notification dots or not. If you think they’re messy or want to limit them to important apps, you can switch them off.
Use app shortcuts: In Android 10 some apps have shortcuts to actions that you can access by pressing and holding their icon. This can be taking a video or photo with a camera, navigating home with Maps, or adding contacts, plus many more. Just press and hold and it will pop up. You can also directly view app notifications via this method.
Create shortcut icons: Once you have your list of app shortcuts pop up on the screen as above, you can drag and place them on the screen as their own individual icons. For example, on the camera, you can drag out a shortcut to go straight to the selfie camera.
Quick Settings tips
Quick Settings are a really useful way to control your phone. There aren’t huge changes in Android 10, but here are some tips to master their use.
Manage quick settings icons: In Android 9 you can manage the order of the quick settings tiles by dropping down the usual shade from the top of the screen and hitting the pencil icon bottom left to edit.
Quickly select a Wi-Fi network: Swipe down for Quick Settings, then press and hold the Wi-Fi icon. This will go directly to the Wi-Fi settings, it’s great when you can’t figure out what’s going on with Wi-Fi.
Quickly manage Bluetooth: The same applies to Bluetooth. Swipe down the Quick Settings shade and press and hold the Bluetooth icon. If you’re failing to connect to your car, you can instantly see what’s going on.
Turn on torch/flashlight: There’s no need for a separate app, just tap the button in Quick Settings to turn on your flash as a torch. Or just say “Ok Google, turn on torch/flashlight” and it will turn on.
Cast your screen: Want your Android device on your TV? Just swipe down and tap Cast screen and it will be sent to your Chromecast. If it’s not there, add the Cast tile to your Quick Settings using the method mentioned above. Not all apps are supported though.
Display tips and tricks
The Pixel 4 has a great display, boosted with 90Hz refresh for smooth scrolling.
Turn on or off the smooth display: You can toggle the 90Hz display in the settings. Google uses an adaptive system that moves from 60 to 90Hz in certain apps and at higher brightnesses. That can use more battery life so if you want to turn it off, head into settings > display > advanced > smooth display and you can turn it off.
Turn on always-on display: Head into settings > display > advanced > lock screen display. Here you’ll find the option for the always-on display, which will show the time, date, weather on your lock screen. You can turn it off to save battery life.
Turn on tap to wake: Head into settings > display > advanced > lock screen display and toggle on “tap to check phone”. This is basically an alternative to always-on display, letting you see those details with a tap.
Get notifications when you lift your phone: Head into settings > display > advanced > lock screen display and you can turn on the option to show you the always-on display when you lift your phone up. That means you can glance at the time and your notification icons, without having to press any buttons or anything.
Wake the display when new notifications arrive: If want the display to wake up when you get a new notification, this option is also in the lock screen settings as above. You’ll need to make sure you’re not getting overwhelmed with notifications, or it will drain your battery a little faster.
Manage the colours of the display: Head into settings > display > colours and you’ll find the options offered – natural, boosted or adaptive. We’ve found adaptive to be the best for most use cases.
Control ambient EQ: There’s a new setting on the Pixel 4 that’s similar to Apple’s True Tone display, which aims to adapt the colour balance of the display to suit the surrounding light. Head to settings > display > ambient EQ and you can turn it off if you don’t like what it’s doing.
Have night light automatically turn on/off at dusk and dawn: Night light aims to reduce the blue light from the display to make it better for viewing at night, reducing the brightness and the strain on your eyes. Head into settings > display > Night Light and you’ll find all the controls. In the schedule you can customise when this happens, with automatic sunset to sunrise being an option.
Google Pixel 4 camera and photos tips
The Google Pixel 4 gets another camera boost over the Pixel 3, not only adding an additional lens, but also offering new shooting modes.
Quick launch the camera: Double press the power/standby button to quick launch the camera, it’s a great feature. The settings for this control live in settings > system > gestures. Here you can turn on “jump to camera” to allow quick access from any screen, even the lock screen.
Swipe between photos, video, other camera modes: You can swipe from photo to video capture and to other modes in the camera viewfinder, which you might prefer to hitting the buttons. Simply swipe up or down the screen in landscape, or left and right in portrait and you’ll switch from photo to video capture.
Find the camera settings: These keep moving around the Pixel camera app. At the top (in portrait) or left (in landscape) you’ll see a drop down arrow – swipe that down and you’ll open the camera settings. Note that these are specific to the shooting mode, so access these settings in video mode to change the video settings. There’s also a settings cog in the bottom corner of these settings, where you can find more.
Turn off the shutter sound: That noise is pretty annoying, right? Open the camera settings as mentioned above and tap the cog. This goes to deeper settings menu where you can turn off the shutter sound.
Turn on or off framing hints: The Pixel 4 will make suggestions about how to take a better photo. If those are getting annoying, you can turn them off. Head into the deep settings menu as above and you’ll find the toggle for “framing hints”.
Prioritise your friends in photos: That’s right, thanks to AI, the Pixel 4 can identify those you take a lot of pictures of and make sure they look the best in pictures you take. Head into the deep settings and you’ll find the option for “frequent faces” – this will ensure the people you care about get priority over some randoms.
Customise your instant social sharing options: When you take a photo you can be given the option of quickly sharing that via a range of different social platforms. The easiest way to make that selection is to take a photo then tap the arrow that appears next to the preview image. Tap the + and you’ll be taken to a menu to choose the sharing options you prefer.
Preserve and share depth data in photos: There’s the option to share depth data that’s captured by the camera, which would potentially allow editing in other apps or social platforms. Again, this option is hidden deep in the menus, but you can toggle it on. The app says it will take longer to process photos with this option on.
Instant 2x zoom: There’s a new lens on the rear of the camera and it’s a 2x zoom. There’s no button for it, but the existing double tap to jump to 2x zoom still works – in this case it switches to the second lens.
Zoom in more: If you tap the display to focus, you’ll get a zoom slider appear – and you can zoom up to 8x. Or you can pinch on the display to control zoom.
Use Night Sight: Night Sight is one of the Pixel’s hallmark features, in dark conditions you’ll see an on-screen prompt to turn it on. Just tap it and you’ll be using Night Sight. If it’s not dark, you can still turn it on, just swipe through the photo modes and you’ll find Night Sight.
Use astrophotography mode: A new addition on the Pixel 4, you’ll have to have your phone steady and in dark conditions. Again you’ll get an on-screen prompt to use the mode – and then it will take about 4 minutes to get the final photo.
Adjust the highlights and shadows: The Pixel used to let you change the exposure, but now it lets you change the highlights and the shadows independently. Tap in the viewfinder to meter the scene and you’ll get two sliders appear – you can then change the highlights or the shadows to get the picture you want and hit the shutter button.
Lock the exposure and the focus: This is a trick used by photographers to make sure that the camera locks onto the correct exposure and focus for a subject in the frame and keeps that until the photo is taken. It’s useful, for example, when there’s a lot going on that the camera might focus on instead, perhaps things moving elsewhere in the frame. On the Pixel 4 when you tap to focus there’s lock icon next to the highlights slider (as above) – tap this to lock.
Enable/disable Motion Photos: Like Apple’s Live Photos, when you snap a photo you can have it capture a short burst of video. The option is in the settings, so swipe those open and you can have it on all the time, or on “auto” so it takes a Motion Photo when it thinks it’s needed.
Get Google Lens suggestions: This is a really clever option that will highlight certain information via the camera. Just point the camera at a phone number, name or website and a link will be offered to open Chrome, place a call or open up your Contacts with that person. It’s on by default, but you can find it in “more” > settings > Google Lens suggestions.
Engage Google Lens through the camera: Google Lens is an AI system that identifies objects and gives you information. You can find it in the “more” option on the camera, or you can get to it by pressing and holding in the viewfinder. Then then flips to Lens and find things for you.
Engage portrait mode: Craving that blurred background effect? Just swipe to Portrait. Then you simply have to line up your subject and take the picture. It works on both the front and back cameras.
Engage beauty mode: Ok, it’s not called beauty mode, it’s called “face retouching”. This has moved into the settings so swipe open that menu and you can choose from none, natural or smooth. It works on both the front and back cameras.
Adjust the depth effect in portraits: This has been the same for a while, but you can easily edit the depth effect in portrait photos. Open the portrait you want in Google Photos – it will have a little portrait icon on the image so you know it’s editable. Then tap the edit button, then tap the edit icon again and you get the sliders to edit the image. Slide blur up or down to change the effect. Remember to save the copy you want to keep.
Engage video stabilisation: Head into the settings menu and you’ll find the option to turn on video stabilisation.
Extract a frame from a video: Shoot a video or a Motion Photo and you get the option to extract a frame and save it as an image. Open the video in the gallery and hit the edit button. This will give you a timeline of the video which you can scan from – then hit the button to export an HDR image from that frame.
Google Pixel 4 apps tips and tricks
Split-screen multitasking: Android offers split-screen multitasking and it now uses Overview to control it. Swipe up to pop into Overview, then tap the app icon at the top and you’ll find “split screen as an option”. Tap this and it will move to the top of the screen. You can then scroll through Overview to find the second app, or open another app and it will take up the bottom of the screen.
To return to single screen/not split: If you find yourself stuck in split-screen, press the home button. If there’s still an app at the top, swipe it down and it will return to full screen. Then press the home button again and you’re back to normal.
Change the default app: Android lets you decide which is the default app, if you have more than one that will do the same thing. Under settings > apps & notifications > advanced you’ll see the default apps option. Here you can set your default browser, launcher, SMS app and so on.
Control app permissions: Android lets you manage all the permissions for each app on an individual basis. Go to apps & notifications, and you’ll find recent apps at the top so you can quickly click through and edit the permissions for that individual app.
Disable picture-in-picture: Picture-in-picture will allow a thumbnail version of an app or video to play once you return to the home screen. That’s great, but if you don’t want it, head into apps & notifications > advanced > special app access > picture-in-picture. Here you can toggle off apps you don’t want using it. For example, toggle off Chrome and you’ll not get in-browser videos playing as picture-in-picture.
Worried about you app usage? Digital Wellbeing will help you: If you’re worried about how much time you spend on your phone, then head into settings and find Digital Wellbeing. This also appears as an app. This will not only give you a breakdown of your app and phone usage, but you can set timers and access other functions to remind you to switch off.
Use Wind Down to help you disconnect: If you want to proactively protect your bedtime, then Wind Down is a great way. You can set in motion a process that slowly moves your phone to greyscale and switches you to do not disturb to help try to take your eyes off the phone. You can find it and set it up via Digital Wellbeing instead.
Google Pixel 4 notifications and volume tips and tricks
Notifications on Android are the best around, giving you loads of option and loads of control. Things haven’t changed hugely, but it’s still worth mastering.
Direct reply: With recent versions of Android you’ll often be able to direct reply from any app that has it built in. Swipe down on any notification card and if there’s a “reply” option, hit it and type away without leaving the screen. Sometimes the toast notifications will give you the direct reply option too, so you can reply when you’re playing a game without taking your eyes off the action.
Quickly switch to vibrate alerts: If you want silence, but are after vibration alerts still, then push the volume button and tap the bell on the pop-up at the side. This will switch to vibrate.
Turn down media volume: Hit the volume up or down button, and the volume slider will appear on the right-hand side. Tap the settings at the bottom and you will access all the volume controls. Here you can turn down media volume.
Turn on captions: This is a clever option that will add captions to any speech in video, great if you need your phone silent and you want to know what’s going on. Hit the volume button on the side of the phone and you’ll see the caption toggle at the bottom. Just tap to turn it on.
Squeeze to silence alarms and calls: You can quickly silence your phone with a squeeze. Head into settings > system > gestures > active edge. At the bottom of this list you’ll find the option to squeeze for silence.
Engage Do not Disturb: Swipe down Quick Settings and tap the Do Not Disturb icon. You’ll be spared the pings and chirps every time you get a Like on Facebook.
Schedule Do not Disturb: Swipe down Quick Settings then press and hold the Do Not Disturb button. Choose schedule > turn on automatically and you’ll find the automatic rules. Here you can set times for Do not Disturb to automatically turn on and off, like evenings or weekends.
To turn off notifications on an app: Go to Settings > apps & notifications and tap on the app you want. In notifications you can block all notifications for any app on your device. Or, when you see a notification you don’t want, slowly swipe it right to reveal a settings cog. Hit that and you’ll be able to block notifications from that app.
Hide sensitive information in lock screen notifications: You can have lock screen notifications without too much information being revealed. Head to settings > display > lock screen display > lock screen. Here you can set the phone to hide information so it can’t be read by everyone by selecting “show sensitive content only when unlocked”.
Google Pixel 4 Google Assistant tips and tricks
Google Assistant is getting into all parts of Google’s devices, expanding its feature set and powers with machine learning and AI taking over the world. Here’s some great things to try with Google Assistant, but hit the link below for load more tips.
Squeeze to launch Google Assistant: Head into settings > system > gestures and you can control Active Edge, set the squeeze sensitivity, or disable it if you don’t like it. You can also opt to use it when the screen is off. Squeezing will start Google Assistant listening so you can just start talking.
How to launch Google Assistant: Google Assistant has really changed a lot in the last year. There’s a new gesture to access it on Android 10 on the Pixel 4. Just swipe in from the bottom corner and Google Assistant will launch. Or you can tap the icon in the search bar on the home screen – or use the hot word.
Swipe up Google Assistant to see more personal information: Swipe up once you’ve launched Google Assistant and you’ll find more information updates waiting for you. You can see what’s coming up or check your commute, for example.
Turn on the Ok Google hot word: When you setup your phone, you’ll be prompted to setup the Ok Google hot word. If you choose not to, you can set it up at other times easily. Just unlock your phone and say Ok Google and the setup page will open.
Open an app with Google Assistant: Simply say “Ok Google, open Netflix” and it will open Netflix or any other app. It’s smart too, as for some apps, Assistant can navigation content within them – like watching a specific show on Netflix, or playing a specific artist on Spotify.
I’m feeling lucky: If you’re looking for Google Assistant’s Easter Egg, trying saying “I’m feeling lucky”. This will take you to a trivia quiz that’s loads of fun.
Google Pixel 4 battery tips and tricks
Quickly access the battery details: You guessed it. Swipe down the Quick Settings area and press and hold the battery saver toggle. This will take you directly to the battery details page.
See what’s eating battery: You’re not instantly shown which apps are eating battery. To find these details, open the battery panel as above and tap on the menu top right. Tap battery usage and you’ll get a breakdown on what’s killing your battery.
Turn on battery saver: As above, in the battery area you’ll find battery saver. If you want to set it up to switch on automatically when it hits 5 per cent or 15 per cent, you can do so here.
Google Pixel 4 general tips and tricks
Find your Android phone using Find My Device: The easiest way is to head into your Chrome browser and type “find my device”. Google will return a window that will locate your Android devices using Find My Device. You’ll have to log-in to access the details, but you’ll then be told the location of your phone, the battery status and what Wi-Fi network it is connected to. You’ll also have the option to erase, lock or play a sound. On the device you’ve located, it will have a notification to say it’s been found.
Get pop-up/floating navigation: You can get Google Maps to give you a floating navigation map, so you can be browsing Twitter while you follow walking directions, saving you from constantly switching apps. Just start your navigation in Google Maps and hit the home button and Maps will shrink into a floating live window you can place where you want on the screen. You can control it with the picture-in-picture controls.
Check for Android updates: You want the latest version of the software, so head into settings > system > advanced > system update. Here you can manually check for any updates that haven’t been pushed. There probably won’t be anything, but at least you know how to check.
Enable developer settings: To turn on the developer settings, head into settings > about phone. Scroll to the bottom and repeatedly tap on the Build number. After a number of taps, you’ll be asked to confirm your PIN – then you have unlocked the developer options. Head into settings > system > advanced > developer options.
Turn off the developer options: There’s no magic tapping for this. Once you’ve unlocked those options, a new section appears in the settings menu as detailed above. Open it up and there’s a toggle switch at the top. Here you can turn it off, and that menu option vanishes.
Find the Android 10 easter egg: Head into settings > about phone. Then tap the Android version. Then tap Android 10 and you’ll flip to a page that says Android 10 on it. Double tap them hold the 1 and it will rotate. Drop it into the 0 to create a Q and the background will start scrolling. It’s not hugely exciting.
Search settings: Rather than rooting through everything, you can search the settings. Just open up the Settings menu and there’s a search bar at the top. This can basically search any setting on the phone, so it’s really easy.
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