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15 Pixel 3 features you should use right now

Whether you're coming to the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL from another Android device or an iPhone, there's plenty to learn.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
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1 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Get the most out of the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL

Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL come with Android 9.0 Pie and have a few custom tweaks from Google that make up the Pixel experience. Here are some easy tips and tricks that will assist you in getting the most out of your new phone. 

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2 of 17 Jason Cipriani/CNET

Camera shortcut

Out of the box, you can double-press the power button to launch the camera app at any time. It doesn't matter if the phone is locked or streaming a YouTube video, the camera will open. 

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3 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Call screening

Whenever you get a call and you don't know the number or can't answer, tap on the Screen Call button. Google will answer the call on your behalf, and let the caller know you're using a screening service and ask the caller to identify him or herself. You can then use prompts to ask more questions or label the caller as spam. 

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4 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Free photo backup

Part of owning a Google Pixel phone is that you get free, unlimited original quality backup of your photos and videos using the Google Photos app. In order to begin the backup process, open the Photos app and enable backup. It'll be the first prompt you see. 

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5 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Selfie camera shortcut

New to the Pixel 3 this year is a shortcut that allows you to switch from the rear camera to the front camera without having to fiddle with any onscreen buttons. 

The feature, called Flip camera, will switch between the two cameras with a quick double-turn of your wrist when the camera app is open. Enable the feature in Settings > SystemGestures > Flip Camera

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6 of 17 Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

At a glance

Along the top of your home screen, you'll see the date and weather. In addition to those two items, this section of your screen provides At A Glance information such as calendar events upcoming flight details, and traffic information.

Long-press on the date to open the preferences and enable or disable any of the available options. 

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7 of 17 Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Daily wallpapers

Google's Wallpaper app is preinstalled on the Pixel 3, and brings with it some cool features. For example, when selecting your new wallpaper, you can select the option to let Google change your wallpaper every 24 hours.

Long-press on a blank area of the home screen and then select Wallpapers to customize the look of your home and lock screens. 

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8 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Flip to Shhh

One quick way to keep your phone quiet is to enable Flip to Shhh. Once enabled, any time you place your phone face down on a desk or table, Do Not Disturb mode will turn on and keep your phone quiet. 

The setting for Flip to Shhh is in Settings > Digital Wellbeing.

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9 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing is preinstalled on the Pixel 3, despite still being in beta. The feature is found in the Settings app and helps you track the amount of time you spend on your phone.

Make sure to tap through the various options and settings within Digital Wellbeing to set time limits for apps, or enable Wind Down -- which turns your display black and white and prevents notifications from showing up until the following day. 

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10 of 17 Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Split Screen

You can still use more than one app at a time on the Pixel 3. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open multitasking view, then tap on the app icon at the top of the app's card. Select Split Screen followed by the second app you want to use.

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11 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Gesture navigation

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL now rely solely on gesture navigation. That means you will need to learn how to get around your Android device without much help from the navigation buttons that have been present for years. 

Here's a quick cheat sheet:

  • A short swipe up from the bottom reveals app shortcuts and the multitasking view.
  • A longer swipe up opens the app drawer.
  • A quick swipe to the right on the home button (looks like a pill) switches to the previous app.
  • Drag the home button to the left to move between previously open apps
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12 of 17 Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

App suggestions

You will eventually notice that each time you swipe up to open multitasking view, the app icons just below your open apps are always changing. That's because Android Pie 9.0 is constantly learning and suggesting apps it thinks you will want to open based on your usage habits and the time of day.

In the App Drawer you will see similar shortcuts, some of which go further than opening an app. For example, if you send a lot of messages to a contact in Facebook, a shortcut to that message thread will show up. 

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13 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Rotation lock

If you prefer to have rotation lock enabled, you can still selectively rotate the contents of your display to landscape mode with the tap of a button.

Each time you rotate your phone, a rotation toggle will show up next to the home button. Tap on the button to rotate the display, and then once again when you're ready to go back to portrait mode. 

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14 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Media volume control

When streaming music or watching a video, the volume keys will now default to controlling the playback volume, instead of the system's volume (for notifications). If you're currently casting to another device, volume control for that device will also show up in the new controls. 

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15 of 17 Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Dark mode

Android Pie 9.0 now comes with a dark mode for the interface. The feature can be enabled all the time, or you can set it so that your wallpaper determines the color of the shortcut and notification shade. 

Open Settings > Display > Device theme to select your preference.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
16 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Wireless charging

The Pixel 3 lineup now supports wireless charging of speeds up to 10W. That means you can quickly charge your device on Qi-enabled wireless charging pads, which includes Google's own Pixel Stand that adds a few tricks of its own. 

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Video: Pixel 3 tips and tricks

Get the the most out of your new Pixel 3 with these tips.

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