The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are phones with hidden depths. In this guide, we’ve got step-by-step instructions for you to help you customize your new phones, dig into the best shortcuts, and uncover the most exciting features.
We’ll run through some features exclusive to the Pixel line, and some that will work on any Android 10 phone. Before we dive in, Pixel 3 XL owners might want to look at how to hide the notch. Without further ado, here are our top Pixel 3 tips.
How to customize your home screen
Tap and hold on any open area of your home screen and you’ll get a pop-up menu that lets you select Widgets and Styles and wallpapers – we recommend the Earth section in Wallpapers, where Google offers some gorgeous shots of our planet and some more extraterrestrial shots. Some of the other categories offer a Daily wallpaper option that changes your wallpaper every day. Style allows you to make more dramatic changes to your phone’s look, and it’s definitely worth a look if you want to capitalize on the customizability of Android to its full.
You’ll also find Home settings in here, where you can decide if you want Notification dots, whether new app icons should be added to the Home screen, set At A Glance info like calendar events to stay at the top of the screen, and more.
How to choose quick settings toggles
Pull down the notification shade with two fingers and tap the wee pencil icon at the bottom left to edit the quick settings toggles that appear. You can simply tap and drag icons to add or remove them and move them to your preferred spot on the Quick Settings menu.
How to use Night Light
Because blue light can make it harder to fall asleep, most phone manufacturers now offer a blue light filter that can be scheduled to kick in near bedtime. On your Pixel 3, go into Settings > Display > Night Light and tap Schedule, where you can choose to have it turn on precisely when you want or automatically align with the sunset and sunrise in your area.
You can also set this as a part of your Wind Down bedtime routine in Settings > Digital Wellbeing.
How to free up storage space
With 64GB of storage in the base model and no room for a Micro SD card, you might find that you run out of space on your Pixel 3 or 3 XL. Apart from uninstalling apps you don’t need, you should also go to Settings > Storage and tap Free up space.
Another way to free up space is to back up photos and videos to Google Photos, where you can back up everything in its original quality for free. Once everything is backed up, tap on the small hamburger menu at the top left in Google Photos and then tap Settings > Free up device storage.
How to have Google Assistant screen your calls
If a call comes in that you suspect may be spam — or you just don’t want to take it — tap Screen call and Google Assistant will answer for you, saying, “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you’re calling.”
You’ll see what they say transcribed in real time on your Pixel screen and you can choose whether to answer, send a quick reply, or report as spam.
How to use split screen
To use split screen, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the multitasking view showing your recent apps and tap the app icon at the top of one of the apps you want open. Then select Split screen and choose the second app you want open. You can drag the bar in the middle to resize, then simply drag it all the way to the top or bottom when you’re done to go full screen with one of the apps.
How to turn off the always-on display
We definitely recommend turning the always-on display on, so you can see new notifications and other information on your Pixel 3’s screen even when it’s locked. However, it does take up a decent chunk of battery to run it, so we wouldn’t recommend leaving it on if you’re trying to conserve battery. Go to Settings > Display > Advanced > Lock screen display and make sure the Always on mode is off. We also turned on Double-tap to check phone and Lift to check phone, but you might feel one of those options is enough.
How to quick launch the camera
You can simply double-tap the power button to quickly launch the camera app at any time, even when your Pixel 3 is locked. It’s a handy shortcut when you want to capture a spontaneous moment and speed is important. You can toggle this feature on and off in Settings > System > Gestures > Jump to camera.
How to use volume keys for camera gestures
One of the things we like about the Pixel 3 and 3a is that you can configure the volume keys for camera gestures. Setting the volume keys lets you snap photos or zoom in. To set up these functions, open the camera app, tap the arrow at the top of the screen, and then select the Settings cogwheel. Then, tap Gestures and choose your preference. You can adjust whether double-tapping on the screen zooms in or swaps the camera.
How to quickly switch to front-facing camera one-handed
Swapping from the main to the front-facing camera used to be tough, especially one-handed. But the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a use a default gesture to adjust the camera view. Twisting your wrist twice should switch to the front-facing camera. If yours isn’t already on, navigate to Settings > System > Gestures > Flip camera to turn it on.
While you’re at it, consider all the other settings you can change on your Google phone. See these key settings you need to change on your Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, or Pixel 3a XL.