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7 of the best Android 10 features and how to use them (on your new Pixel 4!)

Android's newest operating system is full of new features. We show you how to use some of our favorites.

android-10

Android 10 is now on Pixel phones. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google's new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones run Android 10, Google's newest Android operating system that launched for older Pixel phones in September. More devices will gain the latest version of Android in the near future. Google recently announced Android 10 as the official name, replacing Android Q and the dessert naming scheme Google has always used. Operating system updates like Android 10 add new features and capabilities and can be refreshing if you're growing tired of your phone. Google released the first beta of Android Q in March, and we've been testing it all along. 

From a new Bubbles notification featurefull-on gesture navigationimproved privacy settings and a slick Live Caption feature -- there's a lot to like about Android 10. Let's take a look at some of the highlights. 

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Android 10's Bubbles feature should feel familiar to users of Facebook Chat Heads. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

1. Bubbles

Do you still use Facebook Messenger's Chat Heads feature? If so, then you're going to love Android 10's new Bubbles feature. Bubbles work just like Chat Heads, with a circular notification floating above whatever is on your screen. Google wants developers to be mindful of what types of apps use Bubbles simply because a stream of notifications showing up on your screen, regardless of what you're doing, would get real annoying real fast.

As you can see in the screenshots above, Bubbles is working with the Google Phone app. I triggered Bubbles by leaving an active call, after which a small circle showed up with the contact's picture. While dragging the Bubble around, two options showed up at the bottom of the screen: Hide and End Call. Dragging the icon to either option caused that action. A single tap on the Bubble revealed a few more options, such as enabling the speaker or muting the call. 

Android 10 makes it a breeze to share Wi-Fi networks with a QR code. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

2. Wi-Fi and QR codes

Sharing your Wi-Fi network password with friends or asking for theirs can be awkward. Android 10 has a new feature that lets you create a QR code for your Wi-Fi network or scan a QR code to join a Wi-Fi network, directly in the device's Wi-Fi settings. To use this new feature, go to Wi-Fi settings and then select your home network, followed by the Share button with a small QR code just above it. 

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

3. Undo app removal

Ever accidentally remove an app from your home screen, and then realize you can't remember which app was there? I have.

With Android 10, you have a few seconds after an app has been removed to undo the change. You'll find the undo button along the bottom of the screen. Press it and bam, the app is back where it belongs.

You have new options when it comes to approving location access in Android 10.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

4. Location control

Android is finally getting more granular control over how an app can use location information. Currently, you can give an app access to your location either all the time or not all. With Android 10, you will gain the option of letting an app access your location information only while you're actively using the app. Not only is this a privacy matter, but it's sure to help save on battery life.

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The new privacy settings in Android 10 are long overdue. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

5. Privacy settings

With Android 10, there's now a dedicated Privacy section in the settings app. Opening it will reveal the various permissions apps can request for things like calendar, location, camera, contacts and microphone.

Android has lacked a clear-cut way to view what apps have access to what data on your device. The new section makes it easy to discover and revoke permissions for specific apps. Take a few minutes to learn exactly what can be done in the new Android 10 Privacy settings page. Trust us, it's worth it. 

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Android 10's new notification settings will help you limit the dings and beeps coming from your phone. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

6. Better notification controls

When you long-press an alert, you're now given two different options: Alerting and Silent. Selecting Alerting will allow the app to make sound with each new alert. Silent will not make a sound or cause your phone to vibrate. You can further tailor how notifications behave by going into Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications.

This is a small but important feature because you no longer have to dig into the Settings app to figure out how to customize an app's alerts. You simply long-press, pick an option and you're done.

Google's Live Caption feature in action. 

Google

7. Live Caption

As a way to make Android more accessible, Google developed Live Caption. Currently, Live Caption is only available on the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, but Google plans to bring it to more Pixel phones by the end of the year.  

The feature will live-caption any video that's being played, without a data connection. To activate Live Caption, play a video and then press a volume button. The volume slider that shows up will have a caption button at the bottom -- tap it. You can then move around the caption by dragging it around the screen. 

You can install Android 10 if you have a Pixel phone, then be sure to familiarize yourself with gesture navigations and dig into the new privacy settings

Originally published earlier this year. Updated with more information.