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10 settings you need to change on your Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL phone

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are phones with hidden depths. In this guide, we’ve got step-by-step instructions for you here to help you customize your new phones, dig into the best shortcuts, and uncover the most exciting settings.

1. TURN ON NOW PLAYING

Now Playing uses on-device machine learning to listen to the music in your surroundings — whether you’re in a cafe or a restaurant, the Pixel 3 will try to find the name of the song, and it will display it on the lock screen and as a notification.

It’s turned off by default, so here’s how to turn it on.

Go to the phone’s Settings either by pulling down the notification shade all the way down and tapping the gear icon or by finding the Settings app in the app drawer.

  • Now go to Sound > Now Playing and tap on Show songs on the lock screen. You can also choose to get notifications here or turn them off.
  • Now Playing has improved on the Pixel 3 with a new “Now Playing History” section. Tap on it, and you’ll see a history of the songs identified by the phone sorted by date.
  • Even better, tap on one of the songs, and you’ll get direct access to play the song on any installed music service like YouTube Music.

This is also a good time to make sure your Ambient Display is turned on so you can see these music alerts by heading to Settings > Display > Advanced > Ambient Display.


2. TURN ON FINGERPRINT GESTURES

You can swipe your finger down or up on it to pull the notification drawer down or push it up.

It’s turned off by default, so here’s how to toggle it on:

  • Go to Settings > System > Gestures > Swipe fingerprint for notifications and tap the toggle.
  • Now swipe down or up on the fingerprint sensor, and you’ll see the notification drawer magically move up and down.

3. TWEAK ACTIVE EDGE

Google’s Active Edge feature that lets you squeeze the sides of the phone to activate Google Assistant makes a return.

You can also turn it off completely if you want to just rely on pressing and holding down the home button, or on tapping the Assistant icon in the Google Search bar.

Go to Settings > System > Gestures > Active Edge. Here you can manually move the dot on the slider around to require a firm or light squeeze to activate Assistant, and there’s an option to turn it off completely below or to make it work even when the screen is off.

You can squeeze the phone to silence an alarm, timers, notifications, and incoming calls, and you can toggle this off on the same screen.


4. TURN ON FLIP TO SHHH, AND CUSTOMIZE DIGITAL WELLBEING

It’s a quick way to turn on Do Not Disturb, especially if your phone is vibrating loudly in a meeting or interview.

Go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Flip to Shhh and toggle it on. Alternatively, the setting option is also available in Settings > System > Gestures > Flip to Shhh.

While you’re in the Digital Wellbeing menu, we recommend taking a look at Google’s options to help curtail smartphone usage.

It’s a great way of staying off your phone before bed, and not getting distracted. Just tap Wind Down, choose a start and end time, and you can customize whether you want Do Not Disturb turned on, as well as a grayscale screen, or even whether the phone should turn on Night Light (which turns the screen yellow to protect from blue light).

Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL; Five key features

5. CHOOSE A DEVICE THEME

There’s no full-on “dark mode” in the Pixel 3, but there’s a way to make the app drawer and notification drawer a darker color.

By default, this setting is on “Automatic (based on wallpaper),” which means if you have a dark wallpaper, the notification and app drawer will swap to a dark theme automatically, and vice versa if you have a lighter wallpaper.

If you want to manually configure it, just go to Settings > Display > Advanced > Device Theme > and choose Light or Dark.


6. LOCKDOWN YOUR PHONE QUICKLY

You can set up Smart Lock, so your phone will not ask you to unlock it when you’re at home, or you can set it to trust connected Bluetooth devices so your smartwatch or headphones will keep your phone unlocked.

Google has made it easy, but you’ll need to turn this function on first.

  • Go to Settings > Security & Location > Lock Screen Preferences > and toggle on Show Lockdown Option.
  • Now when you press and hold the power button, you’ll see an option to “Lockdown” the phone. This turns Smart Lock off, doesn’t let you use the fingerprint sensor, and hides notifications from the lock screen.

7. KEEP AUTO-ROTATE OFF

A new smart rotation tool in Android 9 Pie makes it so that you can leave the auto-rotate toggle turned off all the time.

Well, first you actually do need to turn screen auto-rotate off. Pull down the notification bar all the way down until you see the quick settings tiles. Find Auto-rotate, and tap on it to turn it off (if it was on already).

Now go into any app and rotate your screen to landscape — you’ll see a rotate icon pop up next to the home button. Tap it, and the screen’s contents will rotate to the correct orientation and it will stay locked.

When you go back into portrait orientation, the button will pop up again, and just press it to lock it back to portrait. It’s a much smarter implementation than having to deal with an overly sensitive auto-rotate system.


8. TURN ON RAW PHOTOS

There’s now a handy way of making sure the Pixel 3 captures JPEGs and RAW file formats.

  • Open the camera app by double tapping the power button, or by finding it in the app drawer.
  • Tap More then Settings.
  • Go to the Advanced tab, and then toggle on RAW+JPEG control.
  • You’ll now see a separate album in the Google Photos app that will let you access these RAW photo files. Keep in mind, this uses up more device storage.

9. CONFIGURE BATTERY SAVER

You can have Battery Saver mode automatically kick in when your phone hits a certain battery level.

To do this, head to Settings > Battery > Battery Saver > Turn On Automatically. A slider will show up, and you can move the dot around to choose at what percentage you want Battery Saver mode to kick in.

Battery Saver turns off some features in the phone and restricts background use for a few apps, which in turn helps extend battery life.

10. CHANGE THE DISPLAY COLORS

  • Go to Settings > Display > Advanced > Colors.
  • There are three options to choose from: Natural, Boosted, and Adaptive.
  • As the name suggests, Natural gives you the most realistic-looking colors, while Boosted cranks up the saturation.
  • The default Adaptive mode similarly increases the saturation, but it ensures things like skin tone and reds are toned down.
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