Part of the Pixel’s appeal is the phone’s phenomenal software. All Android experiences aren’t created equal, as anyone who’s spent seven seconds with a ready-made Samsung install can tell you, and Google’s clean and simple approach to Android is a big part of what makes a Pixel so enjoyable to use. to use .
But while a Pixel may be perfect from the moment you turn it on, Google’s smartphone software is packed with hidden features and advanced options that can make your experience even more exceptional.
And whether you’re installing a shiny new Pixel 6a or cradling an older Pixel model in your suspiciously sticky paw, taking the time to think about some of your phone’s most easily overlooked settings can take your Pixel adventure to a new level. take it to a whole new level.
So grab whatever Pixel you have, grab a grape juice just in case, and let’s unravel some of your phone’s biggest Google secrets. And be sure to come check out my free Pixel Academy e-course expose for a while Lake advanced intelligence lurking in your favorite Pixel phone when you’re done.
Pixel setting No. 1: Your friendly phone-holding mind
Some of the Pixel’s most practical features revolve around the brilliant bits of Google goodness available in the field of phone calls – and yet most of those elements are disabled by default and barely emphasized in Google’s marketing. Go figure, huh?
First and foremost, there’s the Pixel’s impossibly useful Hold for Me system, which automatically recognizes when you’re put on hold and offers to take the load for you. The system will monitor the call on your behalf and then audibly alert you when a real (alleged) human comes back on the line – so you can drink your grape juice and play your tiddlywinks without worrying about getting caught. something is missing.
Hold the phone though: it’s on you to find and activate the thing first. Otherwise, that fizzy purple drink and that wonderfully strange pastime of yours will be on hold indefinitely.
So here’s the answer – provided you’re using a Pixel in the US, Australia, or Canada, where the feature is currently available:
- Open your Pixel’s phone app.
- Tap the three dots icon in the top right corner and select “Settings.”
- Tap ‘Hold for me’.
- Flip the switch on the screen that pops up to the on position.
And that’s it: Now just wait for your next furious customer service call and check your Pixel’s screen to see if the offer holds on your behalf — and try not to rub your newfound vigor into the faces of your iPhone-wearing companions. at a lot, okay?
Pixel Setting #2: Your Call Intercept Assistant
Google’s spam blocking technology is second to none and really one of the best parts of using a Pixel. (Seriously – just ask some of those iPhone loving amigos of yours.)
But while the Pixel’s basics of spam blocking are enabled by default, your phone’s most advanced irritation blockers require you to enable them once and sign up for their magic.
So first of all, jump back to your Pixel Phone app’s settings, and this time:
- Tap the line labeled “Spam & Call Screen,” then tap “Call Screen.”
- Under ‘Unknown Call Settings’, tap ‘Spam’ and change the setting to ‘Silently reject’.
- Then tap “Potentially counterfeit numbers” and change the setting to “Screen automatically; reject robocalls”.
- like you For real If you want to pull out all the stops, consider adjusting the screening behavior for private or hidden callers as well so that your Pixel automatically screens those types of calls to find out who’s calling and what they want before you get buzzed with buzz. . Keep in mind that you could interfere with legitimate phone calls from doctors’ offices and other such locations if that setting is enabled, so use your own common sense to determine if it makes sense for you.
Call Screen is available on Pixels in the US, as well as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK. If you’re not in one of those areas, don’t worry, we’ll get to some less geo-restricted features in a minute.
Pixel Setting No. 3: Your Business Call IQ Booster
Spam calls aside, one of the biggest phone-related annoyances in our modern lives is a company’s cryptic incoming call. Are they calling for a real reason? Is it actually important? Or is it just more time-wasting, patience-testing poppycock?
Your Pixel can help separate the real from the trash. Just go back to those Phone app settings and:
- Tap Spam & Calls screen again.
- Then tap the switch next to “Authenticated Calls” to toggle it to the on position.
Now, when a “participating company” dares to interrupt your life with a cold call, your Pixel will display the company’s name and logo so you know it’s legit and you can rode it yells (e.g. “to annoy the living daylights out of you”) right on your screen.
Not bad, right?
Pixel setting #4: Wizard of your phone menu
Perhaps my favorite Pixel phone feature of all is a relatively recent addition called Direct My Call. It is currently only available in the US and with English – grumble, grumble, sorry, international Pixel comrades! — but if you’re in the United States and speak something vaguely reminiscent of the English language, it can save a huge hassle and be one of the biggest benefits of having a Pixel in your pocket.
Straightforward and simple, Direct My Call senses when you’ve entered the hellscape of a corporate phone maze and shows you all the available options as press-ready buttons on your screen. That way you can skip the typical test of your sanity and avoid having to listen to every flippin option at any point along the way.
And all you have to do is enable it once:
- Go back to your phone app settings and tap “Direct my call”.
- Now toggle the switch next to “Direct My Call” to the on position.
- Have a merry little party and then be sure to check your screen the next time you’re in the phone menu hell.*
*Joyful mold optional but highly recommended.
Pixel Setting No. 5: Your Business BFF
Okay, one last phone-specific setting for your favorite Pixel product.
When you need to call a nearby business, your Pixel can save you the step of searching for its name, finding the number, then tapping or copying it to go back to your Phone app and be done to call.
Yeesh – forget that crap. Save yourself steps and unnecessary brain pain by simply searching for the company you are looking for straight away in your Pixel’s phone app and place the call right away and there, in a single streamlined place.
First you need to activate all related options:
- Gallop back to those phone app settings one last time.
- Tap the line labeled “Nearby Places.”
- Make sure the “Nearby places” main switch is turned on, which it probably will.
- Then tap the switch next to “Personalized search results” to toggle it to the on position. For example, the Phone app can refer to your normal old search history when looking for business results to increase the chances of offering you the place you want right away.
- Finally, tap the “Location Permission” line to give the Phone app the permission it needs to work intelligently.
Another one down. And now we’re ready to think about some broader, non-call-specific Pixel features worth finding.
Pixel setting #6: your song superbrain
You know that feeling when a song is playing and you can’t figure out what it is for a lifetime? (FYI, there’s at least a 70% chance it’s something from Michael Bolton.)
Your Pixel can help — by proactively identifying every song playing near you and putting the name and artist responsible for it right on your lock screen.
To get the function going:
- Go to your Pixel system’s settings (by swiping down twice from the top of the screen, then tapping the gear-shaped icon on the panel that appears).
- Tap ‘View’ followed by ‘Lock Screen’ and ‘Now Playing’.
- Turn the switch next to “Identify songs playing nearby” to the on position.
Go ahead and toggle the switch next to “Show search button on lock screen” to the on position while you’re there too. That gives you a manual button on the lock screen to start a sound search when a song is playing and your phone can’t (or maybe just won’t choose it, due to an understandable moment of Bolton overload) it for you. identify .
Pixel setting #7: your on-demand song memory
As for your Pixel’s ability to identify songs, you’d be forgiven for forgetting, but your phone basically keeps a running list of every song it identifies throughout the day.
Make it extra easy to access that treasure trove of Bolton ballads by placing a one-tap shortcut right on your Pixel’s home screen:
- Go back to that same part of your Pixel settings we were just poking around — the “Now Playing” section in “Display” and then “Lock Screen.”
- Do you see the line labeled “Now Playing history”? Tap it. Tap it with gusto, garsh dern it!
- Look for the option at the top of the screen that then appears to add a shortcut to your home screen.
One more tap there, and ta-da: Any song your Pixel picks up during the day is always a single tap away.
And with that, we passed our first set of Pixel smart settings worth changing. Stay tuned for a second set of awesome Pixel settings – and don’t forget to come join my free Pixel Academy e-course to track down a bunch of excellent hidden features and time-saving tricks in the meantime.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.