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Google Pixel and Pixel XL best hidden features: Tips and tricks for Pixel phone users

Google’s new Pixel phone and Pixel XL are the most talked-about smartphones of the moment and hitting stores in the coming days. If you’ve unboxed yours and are itching to see what it’s capable of, here’s our Pixel phone tips and tricks guide, revealing some of the best hidden features.

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The Pixel and Pixel XL run the latest version of Google’s Android OS, which is the best version of Android so far – check out our guide to the best new features found in Nougat to see why. Of course, there are loads of great hidden features buried away in the Pixel phones’ settings, and here’s a few you may have missed, to get more from your Google Pixel mobile.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks: Night Light

Blue light filtering, night shift, different manufacturers label this technology all manner of things, but whatever it’s called on your existing smartphone, it’s designed to reduce the amount of blue light put out by your smartphone’s display in dark conditions or late at night. It’s a means of reducing eye strain and both the Pixel and Pixel XL pack their own flavour of this technology, but it’s not switched on by default.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL Tips and Tricks: Night Light

If you want to enable this feature, head to the Display section of your Pixel’s settings menu and the third option down should be Night Light. Tap to open up the Night Light menu and from here you can set it to either automatically switch on relative to sunset for the time of year, or stick to a schedule of your own choosing.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks: Moves gesture support

One notable set of features that the Pixel clearly borrows from other manufacturers’ devices is its Moves. By default, only two of the three are enabled, but all of them are incredibly useful.

The ‘swipe from notifications’ option lets you swipe your finger across the Pixel’s rear-mounted fingerprint sensor to bring down the notifications shade. This is particularly useful on the Pixel XL as the phone doesn’t feature any form of one-handed mode, making getting at your notifications shade by conventional means a but of a stretch.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL Tips and Tricks: Moves

‘Jump to camera’ as its name suggests, lets you quickly open your Pixel’s camera app up with a double-tap of the phone’s power key. It even works when the phone is asleep.

The third and final move, aptly named ‘flip camera’ lets you jump from the rear camera to the front camera with a double twist of the wrist. The camera app needs to be open for this move to work and naturally, it can also be used to switch from snapping selfies back to snapping sunsets.

All three of the Pixel’s Moves can be found under the last option in the ‘Device’ section of the phone’s settings menu.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks: Google weather

Google Pixel and Pixel XL Tips and Tricks: Weather widget

You’ve always been able to ask Google for the latest forecast, but until now it’s only offered the Google News & Weather app as a dedicated source of such information. The Pixel features a new weather indicator on the default home screen that when tapped, actually expands to become its own dedicated weather app that you won’t find in the apps drawer.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks: Launcher shortcuts

Google Pixel and Pixel XL Tips and Tricks: Launcher shortcuts

The Android 7.1 launcher running on the Pixel features a distinctive new look to previous iterations of the OS and one new method of interaction falls under what’s called ‘launcher shortcuts’. You can now long press on select apps from within the apps drawer and instead of just dragging them onto your home screen, you can actually jump to specific features from within those apps. Easy.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks: Less shutter lag

Google Pixel and Pixel XL Tips and Tricks: Reduced shutter lag

The 12.3-megapixel camera on the Pixel and Pixel XL is unquestionably a beast, not least because of its lightning fast shutter, but there’s actually a way to make it faster still. Whilst leaving the phone in its default setting of Auto HDR is recommended most of the time, if you switch it off, the shutter actually becomes that little bit snappier.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks: How to expand the Pixel’s storage space

The Pixel and Pixel XL sadly don’t support microSD memory cards, so you apparently can’t expand the built-in storage space – not great news if you can only afford the 32GB model.

However, there are a few hacks you can use to add extra storage to the Pixel phones. Check out our guide to expanding the available space on your Pixel, including how to add microSD card support.

Watch the Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks video below:

We’re constantly updating this Pixel tips and tricks guide with new information.


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