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Android Pie 9.0: 4 settings you need to change

Make your phone work for you, not the other way around.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google's Android Pie 9.0 operating system has slowly made its way to more than just Google's Pixel ($125 at Amazon) line since its release last August. With an improved Do Not Disturb feature, gesture navigation and smart recommendations, Android Pie has a lot to like.

After updating your phone to the latest and greatest Android OS, however, there are a few settings you should consider changing right away. Settings that will make your phone work for you, not the other way around. 

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The usual Android caveat applies here: Some settings may differ from what's shown here based on who makes your phone. My advice is to use the search feature at the top of the Settings app to find the related setting if you have trouble finding it.

Gestures

gestures-android-p
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Starting with Android Pie, users have the option to ditch the traditional three-button navigation method and rely on gestures instead. 

After installing Android Pie, you may be disappointed to find the feature isn't enabled upon first boot. Instead, you have to go into settings yourself and turn it on.

On Samsung devices that have been updated to Android Pie, you need to go to Settings > Display > Navigation bar and select Full-screen gestures. Google's Pixel 3 ($625 at Walmart) comes with the feature enabled by default, with no way to turn it off, but for the Pixel 2 ($460 at Walmart) and earlier, you can go to System > Gestures > Swipe up on Home button

Action suggestions

android-p-app-action-suggestions
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android Pie is getting smarter and will start suggesting apps and actions for you to take throughout the interface. For example, on a Pixel device when you swipe up on the new home button (with gestures enabled, of course) a row of five apps will be revealed at the bottom of the screen. These apps are suggestions based on your recent usage. You will also notice actionable buttons in the app drawer for common tasks, such as opening an app to a specific section or starting a text message to your partner. (On a Samsung device running Android Pie, the recent app suggestions are found in the multitasking view.) 

If you find the new features a bit creepy, you can disable one or all of them.

On a Pixel phone, long-press on your wallpaper, then tap Home Settings. On the Home Settings page, select Suggestions. Move the appropriate button to the "Off" position for Apps, Actions, and the ability to select text in app previews in the recent view.

Do Not Disturb

Part of Google's well-being program to help minimize the distractions that may suck users back into using a phone is to enhance the Do Not Disturb feature on Android Pie.

Using Do Not Disturb on Android Pie will not only block calls and notifications when the phone is sitting idle, but it will now block the display from turning on at all when you receive notifications. Google is referring to the new feature as "visual disturbances."

android-p-dnd-settings
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

To tailor how the new DND settings work, go to Settings > Apps & Notifications > Notifications > Do Not Disturb. At the top of the screen is a section titled "Behavior" with two options: Sound & vibration and Notifications. Select Sound & vibration and you'll find a short list of device sounds that you can have on or off when DND is enabled. 

android-p-dnd-settings-custom
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Notifications, however, provides more in-depth options for things like app badges and indicator lights. Select Custom from the list and then tick the boxes of alert types you want disabled when your screen is off, and when it is on.

Digital Wellbeing

digital-wellbeing-android-pie

Digital Wellbeing is an effective reminder of how much time we spend on our phones. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google's initiative to bring attention to just how much time we spend looking at our phones has slowly rolled out to phones running Android Pie. Digital Wellbeing is a new feature that keeps tabs on which apps you use, when you use them, and how much time you use them. Ever wonder how many notifications you receive in a given day? Digital Wellbeing will tell you.

The only downside is that right now, Digital Wellbeing isn't available on every single phone that runs Android Pie. Google has slowly added new devices to the program since its launch. Right now, Google's Pixel line, Motorola's G7 ($335 at Amazon) line, Samsung's Galaxy S10 and Nokia's Android One offering all include Digital Wellbeing.

Enable Digital Wellbeing in the Settings app. You can tweak and customize various features, including the Wind Down feature that turns your display black and white and enables Do Not Disturb to help curb picking up your phone late at night. Also, it's probably a good idea to set time limits for specific apps if you find yourself picking up your phone and mindlessly scrolling through a social network. 

Originally published May 9.
Update, April 24, 2019: Added Digital Wellbeing.