The Google Pixel 4 is out. and reviews have been both exalting and somewhat tepid. In terms of flagship phone launches, the Pixel 4 isn’t revolutionary, though it improves upon its predecessors. If you upgraded already, don’t fret. The Pixel 4 has plenty of specs and features to brag about.
In addition to new Motion Sense features, added telephoto lens, and face unlock, the Pixel 4 also boasts a few new software abilities that are either exclusive or have not yet made the jump to older Pixel devices. Here are a few of our favourites—and how to access them on your device.
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Pretty up your Pixel 4’s UI with your favourite colours
Finally, Android adds a native way to customise the home screen without having to download a third-party launcher. There are plenty of reasons to still use a launcher, like if you want custom icons and more malleability over icon docks and text size. But with the Pixel 4’s built-in Styles and wallpapers, you can add a bit of flair to the interface without too much finagling.
The feature is available in the Settings menu, under Display > Styles and wallpapers, though you can also long-press on the Home screen and select “Styles and wallpapers” from the pop-up menu. Then, you can change the colour theme across the interface, ranging from blue, to plain white, to pink, as well as the shape of the Quick Settings icons and the system font. If you’re feeling creative, you can mix and match each of the elements to create your very own quirky style.
Add interactive wallpapers
Wallpapers are a fun way to express yourself, but what if you could interact with them? The Pixel 4’s Come Alive wallpapers are available through the same “Styles and wallpapers” section. Select the Wallpapers tab at the bottom of the screen, then tap into the Come Alive wallpapers section. Choose from an adorable Pikachu, varying sunbursts, or abstract art. Once selected, the wallpapers are interactive and subtly move along in response to the movement your phone captures via its Motion Sense feature.
Enable live caption to read instead of (or while you) listen
Live Caption will eventually make its way to older Pixel devices, but for now, it’s exclusively available on the Pixel 4. The feature can be turned on from the Settings menu under the Accessibility options.
The Live Caption feature is precisely what it sounds like: captions on live content. Whether you’re watching an Instagram Story of your friend showing off what’s in her fridge or you’re tuning in to a video embedded directly on a website, Live Caption will transcribe your on-screen content in real-time. It does this all on-device, too, so you don’t have to be connected to the internet to use Live Caption. And you can easily toggle the feature on and off from the volume slide once you’ve enabled it.
Force your display to run at 90Hz
The Pixel 4 and 4 XL both offer stunning displays with 90Hz refresh rates. What this means is that the screen refreshes content 90 times per second rather than the standard rate of 60 times per second. The difference is most noticeable when you’re playing games and scrolling through content. But it remains a nice-to-have feature.
It was discovered that the Pixel 4’s 90Hz refresh rate isn’t on at all times, and is only present when the display brightness is above 75 per cent. That has since been tweaked with Google’s November Android 10 update. If you’d rather throw caution to the wind and enable your phone’s 90Hz refresh rate on at all times, there’s an option to force the 90Hz refresh rate through the Developer Options in the Settings menu.
Pick your favourite services for ‘Social Sharing’ your photographs
Android’s sharing menu has always been robust and full-featured, but also a bit overwhelming when all you want to do is send a photo over to a family member or friend. In the Pixel 4’s camera app, now you can easily share a photo to any app you use the minute you snap your shot.
Once you see the photo appear in the preview window, in the bottom right-hand corner of your device, tap the arrow button pointing up to reveal the Social Share settings. By default, the Pixel 4 will share your image through Android Messages. If you typically use another app, like Instagram Stories or Snapchat, you can jump into the Social Share settings to change that.
Tell your Pixel 4’s camera to focus on “frequent faces”
If you tend to snap photos of the same people in your life, you can have the Pixel 4 camera store their likeness as one of your “Frequent Faces.”
Frequent Faces encourages the camera app to focus on those faces you often photograph and suggests the best photo after the fact a la Top Shot. The feature works with motion photos, photos in low light, and portraits, and you can enable it via Google Camera’s Settings menu.
Use smart storage to free up space on your Pixel 4
Google’s Files app has always been helpful for keeping your Android phone bloat-free, though it often requires that you manually check in before it makes any changes. The Pixel 4’s new Smart Storage feature automatically does the maintenance for you. Once you turn it on, it will delete any backed-up photos and videos after a period of time.
You can turn on Smart Storage in the Settings panel, under Storage > Smart Storage. The feature lets you choose a 30, 60, or 90-day interval before your phone will remove locally-stored photos. If you need a picture later on, you can access it from your Google Photos account (or wherever else you back up your photos).
Help your Pixel 4 help you in an emergency
One new app that comes pre-bundled on the Pixel 4 is the Safety app. It’s meant to help you in an emergency, and it even detects if you’ve been in a car crash.
After you sign in with your Google account, the app will have you choose your primary emergency contacts. Then, you can add any vital medical information, like blood type and allergies, as well as your address and whether you’re an organ donor.
If you need help, you can pop into the Security app to quickly send your location and status to the emergency contacts you previously selected.