Owners of Google Pixel Androids are getting a handful of new features, including updates to your device’s Personal Safety app and more. In addition, Personal Safety is now supported on all Pixel smartphones from the Pixel 2 on up, not just the Pixel 4. The problem? Google has made Personal Safety an absolute mess to enable. Let me explain.
To get started using the Personal Safety app, or its newest features, you’ll want to make that you’ve installed any new updates for your Pixel (via Settings > System > Advanced > System update), as well as any new app updates that might be lingering at the Google Play Store.
Once you’ve updated and restarted your device, you’ll likely see “tips” at the top of your notifications. Tap on it to be directed to a new window that lists some of the major new additions:
You can tap “Take a look” to examine the new features, which will give you links for adding your information to the Personal Safety app if you haven’t done so already. This kickstarts the ability to access the Personal Safety app to begin with, and doing that is a bit of a mess on Android.
If you don’t see these tips in your notifications, pull up your Settings app, tap on “Search settings,” search for “tips” and launch “Pixel Tips,” which should display the aforementioned Personal Safety options. For whatever reason, Google makes the process of accessing the Personal Safety app incredibly difficult—I didn’t see an option to open it up via my App Drawer and Google’s instructions for revealing it didn’t help much, either.
Once I went through the prompts provided by the Pixel Tips app (the only way I could manage to access Personal Safety), I got to this screen, which let me link my Google Account to the app:
Walking through these prompts, in turn, finally got me into the Personal Safety app proper. (What a long, strange trip this has been.)
Though I seem to have access to Emergency sharing, I still didn’t see the other major updates Google is promoting. This means they either haven’t rolled out to me or I’m still doing something wrong. This is frustrating, as they seem incredibly useful, based on their descriptions:
And I’m hardly the only person experiencing this issue. Feel free to try the troubleshooting techniques suggested at those links if you want, but prepare to be disappointed. I’m just going to state the obvious: This experience sucks, Google. Don’t talk about features—especially safety features—that your users can’t access without having to consult three FAQs and an oracle to maybe gain partial access to a hidden-by-default safety app. Come on.
What about the other features in the June update?
It’s time to go to bed
Google tweaked the Clock app for Pixel owners to add a new “Bedtime” option so you can give yourself a recurring wakeup alarm, incorporate a Google Assistant routine to your morning alarm and even have your Pixel slowly brighten its screen before your alarm goes off.
You can also give yourself a bedtime on your Pixel that will shoot you a reminder when it’s almost time to go to bed. Your device can even set itself to enter Do Not Disturb mode automatically (and grey out its display) so you aren’t tempted to keep checking your various notifications.
When is my Pixel’s battery going to die?
Google also tweaked the Pixel’s Adaptive Battery feature a bit. Make sure it’s turned on via Settings > Battery > Adaptive Battery to ensure that your phone is adequately shutting down background services when you need a little extra juice at the end of its charge. You can also now see approximately when your phone will die, given its current use, via the Battery screen:
If you own a Pixel 4, you’ll now be able to use Google Assistant to trigger voice recordings. Simply tell your phone, “Hey Google, start recording my voice” to fire up the Recorder app.