Google dropped new features for its Pixel lineup of phones, and there's something here for everyone.
How To: Unlock Android 12's Game Dashboard for Easy Screen Recordings, Screenshots, and Live Streaming in Any Game
Android 12 comes with new features and upgrades that any mobile gamer can appreciate, including Instant Play, which lets you play games instantly without downloading them first. Even better, there's Game Dashboard, which adds shortcuts for screenshots, screen recordings, and more in whatever game you play. The only problems are that it's not enabled by default, and it's a little hard to find.
How To: Take Scrolling Screenshots in Android 12 for Long Captures of Apps, Documents, Webpages, and More
It was a long time coming, but Android finally has built-in scrolling screenshots, and they come courtesy of Android 12.
Google's new Material You theming engine in Android 12 adds a personal touch to your user interface. The main colors of your wallpaper dynamically affect the colors in menus and apps, essentially putting you in control of the overall theme. But there's another new design element for app icons that's hiding in your settings.
How To: Unlock Android 12's Developer Options on Your Pixel for Powerful Hidden Tools Anyone Can Use
When you start up your new Google Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, one of the first things you should do is unlock the hidden "Developer options" menu. Don't let the word "developer" scare you because there are little-known features in this secret Android 12 menu that every Android user can enjoy.
If you save your passwords in Chrome or even just use Android's default password manager, Google has some new security tools you'll be interested in.
Google's "At A Glance" widget gives you the current weather conditions and upcoming events from your Google Calendar in a handy spot right at the top of your home screen. But on Pixel phones, this widget is permanently embedded into the launcher, so you can't just long-press it to remove it.
Things tend to get noisy when you're in a big group chat, which is why the notification sound for that thread shouldn't be your standard, attention-grabbing ringtone. But you don't want to set the default notification sound to something too subtle, otherwise you'd miss messages that actually matter.
How To: Use One-Handed Mode on Pixels and Other Android 12 Phones to Reach the Top of the Screen More Easily
For some time now, Samsung, LG, and other smartphone manufacturers have had one-handed modes that let you reach on-screen content with your thumb that would otherwise be unreachable without another hand or uncomfortable grip. Google has finally caught up in Android 12 with its own version for Pixel phones.
Your Pixel's Now Playing song discovery tool received a few updates in Android 12, and the feature is finally comparable to other music recognition services.
There are many ways to access the Google Assistant on your phone, but Android 12 adds another one for Google Pixel models that may be the best way yet.
If you've ever been in a crowded, noisy place, chances are you've dealt with having to talk louder just so the other person can hear, and vice versa. You can alleviate this headache in the latest Pixel update by using the Sound Amplifier app's new conversation-geared tool.
How To: Open Snapchat Directly to Camera, Stories, Chat, and More from Anywhere on Your Pixel — Even the Lock Screen
In Android 12, you can launch the Snapchat app just by tapping the back of your Pixel phone twice. The latest Pixel update from Google improved upon the feature by giving us access to the shortcut from the lock screen. That means you're mere seconds away from snapping photos, videos, and stories. But first, you have to set up and configure where you want to land when Snapchat opens.
The first Android update of the year is here. On Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, Google started pushing out the January security patch for the Pixel 3 and all newer Pixels, after having ended support for the Pixel 2 last month.
Pixels don't have a "Download Mode" like Samsung Galaxy phones, so there's not an easy, point-and-click way to send firmware files and low-level commands from your computer. What they do have is an even more powerful tool: Fastboot Mode.
Google dropped several of the Pixel 4's more gimmicky features in favor of perfecting the basics on the Pixel 5. While you probably won't miss Motion Sense or the Assistant squeeze gesture, you'll definitely like the extra battery they packed into the space those features once occupied. Almost 50% more battery, actually.
The Pixel 5's beautifully slim and symmetric bezels don't leave much room for extra hardware like a notification LED. But with the Ambient Display feature and an inventive app, you can turn the display cutout for the front-facing camera into an animated notification indicator.
The Pixel 5 is a bit of a departure from previous Pixels. Gone are the Pixel 4's Soli-based Motion Sense gestures, the Pixel 3's dual front-facing speakers, and the glass back panel of previous generations. But perhaps the most notable omission for long-time Pixel users is the lack of a squeeze gesture to trigger the Google Assistant.
Android's status bar is ever-present. It sits at the top of almost every screen in every app, making it the most prominent part of your Pixel's theme. So it only makes sense that Google would give you a way to change the icons it uses.
The Pixel 5 is the first mainstream phone with perfectly symmetrical slim bezels. Most other "bezel-less" phones have had a disproportionately large bottom bezel, and while the iPhone's side and bottom bezels are symmetrical, there's a huge notch across most of its top bezel. The downside to the Pixel's approach is it has a pretty big display cutout for the front camera.