16 Pixel 3 Beginner Tips & Tricks

Android 9.0 brings a lot of changes to the Pixel 3 and Pixel XL phones, including some fundamental ways you navigate and control your device. Lets take a look at some of the main new features of Pie on the Pixel 3, and how to make the most of them in your day-to-day use.

1 Accessing Overview

Overview allows you to quickly see and scroll through all of the apps you have been using and that are waiting in the background. To open the Overview, slide your finger upwards over the small pill-shaped button at the bottom on the screen. You can then scroll left and right through the open apps, and even access the settings and search.

2 Quickly switch between apps

Previously, switching between the last two used apps could be done by double tapping the Recent Apps button. With Pie on your Pixel, this function is still there, but is achieved by swiping left or right over the small Home button. You can also swipe and hold over the button to open a carousel of previously used apps (just like opening the Overview, but done in one motion).

3 Suggestions in Overview

Android Pie brings app suggestions in a couple of places, including in the Overview. App suggestions will vary, depending on what you use most, or what you have been previously been using. To enable suggestions in Overview, open Settings and look for Suggestions.

4 Direct Reply

The latest version of Android on your Pixel allows for Direct replies. This means that you can open the notifications panel, see a message from a contact, hit the reply button and type, without having to leave the notification panel and open the app. This feature needs to be enabled by app developers, so you might not see it all the time, but expect more and more apps to allow it.

5 Open the App Drawer

In previous versions of Android on Pixel, you opened the main app tray by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. With the new Home and Overview controls, you will need to get used to swiping up a bit further, taking the gesture past where the Overview will open. Try to swipe at least 1/4 of the way up the screen to hit the sweet spot.

6 Google Assistant

Google Assistant can be opened by tapping and holding on the Home button for a couple of seconds, just like with most other Android devices. However, the Pixel 3 also lets you open Assistant by squeezing the edges of the phone. You can find the options in settings > system > gestures > active edge.

7 Silence with a Squeeze

On the subject of squeezing you Pixel 3 phone, you can also set the active edge to silence the phone when squeezed. You can find the options in settings > system > gestures > active edge, but be aware that you can’t have two different squeeze settings active at once.

8 At a Glance

This feature lets you see calendar, weather or other information at the top of the screen “at a glance”. You can enable and edit the information here by tapping and holding on the home screen wallpaper, then selecting “Home Screen Settings” and choosing the information you want to be displayed.

9 Automatically Recognise Songs

Previously available only if online, this feature has now been made local, meaning your phone can detect when a song is playing and display information about the song on screen. To enable the Now Playing feature, head into Settings > Sounds > Now Playing.

10 Accessing the Discover Screen

The Android OS introduced the ability to have an extra page to the left of the Home screen panels some time ago. This has been various things over the years, but on Pixel 3 it is the Discover screen, displaying news topic in a variety of categories. From the main home screen panel, swipe to the right to access it, and then tap the settings icon to customise the content.

11 App Notification Dots

This was a new feature in Android 8.0 (Oreo), and it has been kept in Pie for the Pixel 3. Notification Dots are small markers that appear at the corner of app icons, showing you that there has been some sort of activity within that app (a new email, a Whatsapp message, etc.) To enable the dots, open Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications.

12 Fingerprint Sensor Gestures

Depending on how you hold your phone, the fingerprint sensor is sometimes easier to reach than the top of the screen. Therefore, for some users it will be easier to use the new fingerprint sensor gestures to open the quick settings panel. Just swipe your finger down over the sensor to open the panel.

13 Double-Tap to Wake

If you want to be able to quickly see the time, and any notifications you have, but don’t like having the Always-on Display running, you can now enable Double-tap to Wake. This allows you to quickly tap twice anywhere on the sleeping screen to display the clock and notifications. Head into Settings > Display > Advanced > Ambient display, to turn this on.

digital wellbeing

14 Camera Quick Launch

On the Pixel 3, you can double press the power/standby button to quick launch the camera. The settings for this button control can be found in Settings > System > Gestures, where you can turn on “jump to camera” to allow quick access from any screen.

15 Quick 2x Zoom

If you are taking a photo and want to zoom in on the subject quickly, you can do so by double -tapping on the screen. This performs a 2x zoom, but if you need more, you can still use the zoom slider to get even closer.

16 Digital Wellbeing

Worried about how much time you spend on your phone? You can now check your Digital Wellbeing on your Pixel 3 and Android Pie. Just head into Settings > Digital Wellbeing. The Dashboard gives you a complete picture of how you use your phone. Get a daily view of the time spent on your phone, how frequently you use different apps, and how many notifications you get.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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