Tap into a stack of cool features on the Google Pixel by following our tips.

Have you recently snagged a Google Pixel phone and want to know what it can do beyond phone calls, texts and snapping photos? We can suggest where to start. We understand that buying a new smartphone can be exciting — and sometimes confusing. But if you haven’t upgraded your phone in a while, or are switching from a different operating system, there are a lot of new features and settings to get used to.

Google currently sells three different Pixel models: the $449 Pixel 6A, $599 Pixel 6 and $899 Pixel 6 Pro. All of these phones run on Android 12 and come with specific Google-made features. 

If you’re looking to find out more about the Pixel 6 specifically, check out our story on the settings you should tweak on Google’s newest Pixel phone. (Some settings in that story apply to other Pixel models as well.)

Check out the tips below to learn more about what your new Pixel can do. Some of these features might require a software update or an update to Google’s apps and services. And stay tuned for Google to drop its Pixel 7 series during its Made by Google event on Oct. 6, in case you’re in the market for another upgrade.

Add captions to videos with Live Caption

Did you know that your Pixel phone can automatically caption videos, podcasts, phone calls and more? Press the volume button and tap the Live Caption icon, which looks like a tiny box of text, to enable this feature. Live Caption works in English on the Pixel 2 and higher, so it should be available on any Pixel phone that’s launched in the last four years. The captions are stored and processed locally and never leave your device, according to Google. 

You can also tweak certain settings, such as hiding profanity and adding labels to sounds like laughter and applause. Open the Settings and choose Live Caption to customize these options.

It’s also important to note that Live Caption can drain additional battery, so you might want to only turn it on when you need it.

Take better photos of the stars

Google’s Pixel phones come with a feature that’s specifically designed to help you snap photos of the night sky. It works on the Pixel 3 and higher, but you’ll need to adjust your zoom settings to at least 1x if you’re using the Pixel 4A 5G and later.

Google says the feature works best when taking photos away from city lights at least 45 to 90 minutes after sunset. You’ll also need a tripod or some other steady surface rather than your hands to get the best results.

Just open the camera app, prop up your phone and make sure it’s steady and tap Night Sight to get started. After a few seconds, you should see a message that says “Astrophotography on.” Press the capture button and leave your phone alone until it’s finished taking the photo. 

Translate a screenshot in a different language

You can translate screenshots with text written in languages such as Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and more with Google’s Lens feature. Open the Google Photos app and select the screenshot you would like to translate. Then tap the Lens icon, which looks like a camera, and choose the Translate icon. This works on the Pixel 3 and later. 


Switch to the selfie camera without pressing any buttons

You don’t have to tap any buttons to switch between the Pixel’s selfie camera and main camera. Simply open the Pixel’s camera app and twist your phone twice to flip between the cameras. If you’re not sure what I mean by “twist,” Google has a helpful animation to show you. 

If you’re still having trouble, check your Pixel’s settings to make sure this feature is enabled. Open the settings app, choose System and select Flip camera for selfie.

Open an app or take a screenshot by tapping the back of your phone

Add a handy shortcut to your Pixel phone with Google’s Quick Tap feature. This allows you to open an app, take a screenshot, play or pause media, or show notifications just by tapping twice on the back of your phone. It only works on more recent Google phones like the Pixel 4A 5G and later.

To turn on Quick Tap and customize its actions, open the settings menu and choose System. Then, select Gestures and Quick Tap. From here, turn Quick Tap on and select which action you’d like to perform when tapping the back of your device. 

Have Google Assistant screen your calls 

Sick of robocalls? Google can hopefully help with its Call Screen feature, which works on all Pixel phones. When this feature is turned on, Google Assistant can answer an unknown call and ask who’s calling and why. It will automatically hang up if it’s a spam call, but you can see how the caller responded and decide to answer if it’s a real caller.

Google doesn’t screen calls from phone numbers that are saved in your contacts, and your Pixel won’t automatically screen calls when you’re using headphones or are connected to Bluetooth. 

To set up automatic call screening, open the phone app and tap the three dots in the top right corner. Select Settings and choose Spam and Call Screen. Make sure the switch next to See caller and spam ID is toggled on, and then press Call Screen. 

From here, you can choose how Google screens calls. For example, you can set it to screen spam calls, possibly faked numbers, first-time callers, and private or hidden callers. Just tap one of these categories and choose the Automatically screen. Decline Robocalls option. 

Looking for more Android tips? Be sure to check out our roundup of Android tricks to make your phone feel new again.

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