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October 26, 2017

Google Pixel 2 tips and tricks: Get the most out of your new device

After the release of last year’s sleek and fast Pixel and Pixel XL, Google are back with the next iterations of their flagship devices, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Boasting a seriously powerful Snapdragon 835 system-on-a-chip; Google’s performance and camera-enhancing Pixel Visual Core; a crisp, 1080p AMOLED screen; and an excellent 4K-capable camera, the new phones are excellent for Android lovers.

If you’ve recently got a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, it’s worth getting totally to grips with your new device – here are some interesting tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your new Google flagship phone.

Google Pixel 2 Storage Tips

If you still have nightmares about your old phones running out of storage space, you’ll love the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.

Unlimited photo storage

On top of your Pixel 2’s 64/128GB memory, you can also enjoy unlimited cloud photo storage on Google Photos until 2020. Until the end of 2020 you’ll be able to save as many original-resolution images as you’d like, and after this date Google will shrink the photos to ‘high-quality’ resolution – still a great freebie.

Smart Storage

A new Android Oreo setting, Smart Storage lets you automatically delete photos and videos saved on your phone if they’ve already been uploaded to your Google Photos cloud account, saving storage space for your apps.

Search all your files easily

Use the Android file explorer by going to Settings > Storage > Files. Here you can search through folders of files across the whole of your device, including apps that otherwise wouldn’t show up in your albums.

Google Pixel 2 Display Tips

Love to tinker with your device’s screen and interface? The display tips below will help you make your Pixel 2 look perfect.

Customise the desktop

When on the home screen, tap and hold on an icon-less part of the screen and three options will pop up – change wallpaper, add widgets and desktop settings. The first two are useful in themselves, but the third lets you turn off things like the Google app (found by scrolling right off the home screen) and customise 'At a Glance' notifications.

Night Light

If you’re using your device late at night but don’t want blue light disrupting your sleep cycle, go to Settings > Display > Night Light. From here, you can turn the feature on and off, change the intensity of the feature, and make it turn on automatically at certain hours of the day.

Google Maps can float

We’ve all had the annoying experience on Android of having to constantly flit to and from Google Maps and other apps while we’re trying to find our way. Thankfully, with the new Pixel 2 and the Android Oreo operating system, you can enjoy maps as a pop-up window – just start navigating in the app, press home and the live maps window will shrink.

Dark theme

Like your mobile experience to be a little darker? Pick any dark wallpaper and your apps tray and quick settings menu will turn dark to match.

Mind the dots

With the new version of Android comes notification dots, small coloured dots that appear over desktop app icons whenever they have a notification for you. To see what the dot is trying to tell you, press and hold on the icon to see what it is, as well as choose from a range of quick actions. If you don’t like them, go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications.

Now Playing

A super-useful feature, Now Playing analyses sound playing nearby and displays the song name and artist at the bottom of your display. When enabled it doesn’t send any song or speech sound information to Google, and it works offline too. This feature has been around on apps like Shazam for a while, but Now Playing makes the whole experience extra easy – all you need do is glance down at your phone.

Squeeze for assistance

If you squeeze the bottom of your new Pixel 2, it will instantly launch

Google Assistant. To alter squeeze pressure settings, to turn on squeeze to silence calls or to turn off the feature completely, search for ‘Active Edge’ in the settings app, or go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Default apps > Assist & voice input > Active edge.

At a Glance

At the top of the home screen you’ll find the ‘At a Glance’ information – things like the date, weather, upcoming meetings and events and traffic alerts. To change the feature’s settings, tap and hold it, then tap Preferences.

Ambient Display

Due to the display technology used in the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, the phones now offer Ambient Display, a feature that shows the date, time and any notifications, even when the phone is hibernating. The feature shouldn’t drain much battery at all, as the phone only turns on the small parts of the screen displaying info, not the whole display. If you really want to conserve battery though, go to Display > Advanced.

Notifications via thumb scanner

If you opt for the Pixel 2 XL, you’ll be able to swipe downwards over the thumbprint scanner to see your notifications bar, instead of having to crane your thumb over to the top of the screen (a big ask if you’ve got small hands). The feature can be turned off in Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications.

Picture-in-Picture mode

Watching videos but want to use other apps? Tap the home button and if the app supports the mode and is enabled to do so at Settings > Apps > Advanced > Special app access > Picture-in-picture, the video (or live content) will turn into a window that you can move around the screen. Simply tap the video to get options to turn it full screen again.

Google Pixel 2 Camera Tips

The cameras in the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are excellent, with their power being boosted by complicated Google algorithms and the Pixel Visual Core chip. Here are some new features to look out for.

Google Lens

A super-useful new feature that’s exclusive to the Pixel, Google Lens displays information on the objects in your photos. Simply take a photo or open a picture in the Photos app, then tap the lens logo (the second icon from the left, below the image) to see information on what’s in the photo.

Portrait mode

Thanks to some nifty photo processing algorithms, Google has been able to replicate the two-camera portrait features found in other phones in a single-lens setup. To use the mode, open the camera menu, tap portrait, tap your subject (both the front and rear cameras can use the feature), tap the shutter button and you’ll receive two images: the portrait photo with a blurred background and the non-blurred photo. You can switch between the two by tapping the images’ icon where the shutter button was.

Motion photos

Whenever you’re taking a photo of a scene where there’s motion, your Pixel 2 will also record a short video (much like Apple’s Live Photos feature). To see it, simply open the photo – you can save it as a still image or a Motion photo – but bear in mind that if you edit the photo, the video will be lost. To turn the feature on or off, tap the Motion button at the top of the camera app screen.

Turn off HDR+

If you're used to being able to turn HDR+ mode on or off at will with the original Pixel, you can circumvent the feature’s new automatic operation by going to Settings > Advanced, turning HDR+ Control on. There will now be an option to use the feature in the Camera app.

Google Pixel 2 Secret settings

Google’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL smartphones come with the newest version of the company’s Android operating system. This OS contains a few settings that you have to dig around for, but that are great for people who love to customise their phone to a tee.

Enable developer settings

If you’d like to see information about your CPU or memory usage, change how your device reacts when it connects to a PC or see statistics relating to processes occurring on your device, go to Settings > System > About phone and tap on the Build number at the bottom of the page repeatedly to turn on developer options. To turn it off, go on the newly created toggle switch in the Settings menu.

Enable UI Tuner

Fancy tinkering around with your new phone’s user interface? Swipe down to reveal quick settings, then hold down the settings cog at the top of the screen next to the battery icon. After a long press, go to Settings > System and tap the System UI Tuner.

Play with an octopus

Go to Settings > About phone, then tap on Android version until the Oreo screen comes up. Tap on the O repeatedly and you’ll be treated to an underwater scene where you can move the Android Octopus around the screen!

There’s lots to enjoy with Google’s new flagship phones. If you’re thinking of getting a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, it’s important that you protect your device – click here for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL insurance, and start using your new device without being scared of accidents and breakages.