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Fresh out of the box: 10 ways to make your Google Pixel 6 better
Getting a new phone is exciting. Peeling off the plastic, opening the box, and firing up your device for the first time is always special. The question is, what do you do next? There are plenty of ways to make your phone feel a little bit more yours, but it can be hard to choose where to start. With that in mind, here are ten Pixel 6 tips and tricks you can perform straight out of the box to make your new Google phone even better.
Google Pixel 6 tips and tricks
1. Turn on Now Playing
You’re bound to hear music playing when you’re out and about. Sometimes it’s only elevator music, but other times you actually want to find out the name of the song. While you could hurry and pull up a third-party app like Shazam, Google’s Now Playing feature makes life even easier. It listens for ambient music and identifies both songs and artists at the bottom of your home screen.
The easiest way to track down and activate Now Playing is to head to your Settings menu. From here, open the search bar and type “now playing.” You should be able to tap on the first result to open and toggle the setting. You may have already activated Now Playing, as it is one of the options on the Google Pixel 6 initial setup menu, but if you didn’t, it’s definitely worth tracking the feature down.
2. Activate Quick Tap
Many Pixel users remember the Active Edge feature fondly from previous generations. After all, Google included it on the Pixel 2, 3, and 4 before ditching it on the Pixel 5. While Active Edge hasn’t made a triumphant return for the Google Pixel 6, there is a new way to use some of your favorite features.
How is it holding up? Pixel 6 Pro revisit
Google calls its new Pixel 6 feature Quick Tap. It showed off Quick Tap as a fast way to access the Snap Camera during the Pixel 6 launch, but there’s so much more you can do. All you have to do is set your command and then double-tap on the back of your Pixel 6 to launch it. For example, I have my Quick Tap set to launch the LIFX app to manage the smart lights throughout my home.
Here are the steps to activate Quick Tap:
- Open the Settings menu.
- Enter the System heading.
- Tap on Gestures.
- Select Quick Tap.
- Choose your command.
3. Buy a Pixel 6 case
Alright, so the next way to customize your Google Pixel 6 doesn’t have anything to do with software. However, you should always invest in a solid case for your phone. After all, the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are made with glass on both the front and back. Granted, it’s Gorilla Glass Victus (or Gorilla Glass 6 on the back of the vanilla Pixel 6), but it’s not invincible.
Luckily for you, we’ve already put together a few lists of our favorite cases for both models (hit the links above). Our picks include clear cases to show off your phone, wallet cases to boost your storage, rugged cases for your next adventure, and more. All you have to do is choose which one is right for you.
4. Embrace Material You
One of the most essential software changes to come with the Pixel 6 series was the launch of Android 12. Google teased some of the best features long beforehand, especially the Material You design language. Essentially, Material You is all about making Android feel more unique to you.
There are many ways to customize, from a whole host of new widgets to app icons that change with your background. Fortunately, the Android 13 update has introduced a few Material You options into third-party apps and icons to get you closer to a full-device theme. However, you’ll mostly have to stick with Google apps if you want the fancy new widgets, but at least you have more options to choose from.
One of our favorites is the Google Photos widget, which we wrote about here. As long as you have the version 5.65 update, you can choose from half a dozen different widget shapes to show off your favorite photos. One of our favorites is the blobby one, which you can see in the image above, along with color-matched app icons.
5. Set up Google Assistant Quick Phrases
We all know how important Google Assistant is to the overall Pixel experience. After all, you’ll need Google Assistant to work with voice commands, smart home products, and more. However, you might not have realized that the Pixel 6 series features a set of exclusive Quick Phrases to make your life even easier.
See also: Make the most of Google Assistant
These Quick Phrases allow you to do things like responding to an incoming call by either saying “answer” or “decline.” You can also stop or snooze an alarm hands-free, which you couldn’t do before. Here are the steps to launch Google Assistant Quick Phrases:
- Open the Google app.
- Tap on your avatar in the top right corner.
- Select the Settings menu.
- Choose Google Assistant.
- Scroll until you find the Quick Phrases option.
Right now, the feature only works for calls and alarms, but we certainly hope that Google expands Quick Phrases in the future.
6. Enable Live Caption
Whether you’re lying in bed with a sleeping partner or in a loud environment, or you need it for accessibility reasons, Live Caption is a great feature when you’re trying to enjoy media, but can’t hear the audio. Google’s AI-driven tool adds captions to any media. That includes videos, podcasts, audio messages, and, on a Pixel phone, actual phone calls.
Live Caption can be accessed via the volume rocker. Whenever you raise or lower the volume, you’ll see a small bubble appear to toggle Live Caption. This allows you to open captioning when you can’t hear your audio and then toggle it back off again once the noise dies down. If Live Caption controls aren’t showing, follow these steps:
- Open the Settings menu.
- Head to the Accessibility heading.
- Choose Live Caption and toggle it to On.
- Now locate Live Caption in volume control and toggle it to On.
7. Adjust the keyboard size
We’ve mentioned once or twice that the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are large and heavy. They’re also oddly laid out in some cases. Depending on how large or small your hands are, you may find yourself struggling to adjust to the keyboard. It sits very low on the display while the weight is mainly towards the top, so you’ll find yourself holding the Pixel 6 higher than usual.
Need a new keyboard? The best Android keyboards for all kinds of typists
To make up for the difference, all you have to do is shift the keyboard upwards. This should offer a better typing experience and make the bottom row of keys much easier to reach. Here’s how to tinker with your keyboard settings:
- Open the Settings menu.
- Tap on the search bar and type “keyboard.”
- Locate the Keyboard height result and tap on it.
- Choose from Google’s seven keyboard heights.
8. Register your fingerprints twice
The fingerprint readers on the Google Pixel 6 series can be touchy. They’re not as fast or as reliable as options from competitors, which Google now says is by design. Whether it’s actually down to advanced security algorithms or not, we can’t say. But, what we can say is that you may want to add your most-used fingerprints more than once. Given the placement of the sensor, that probably means your thumbs, and Google offers enough space to add repeats of both digits. This is a classic trick for fingerprint readers, but is a good way of limiting the number of retries when trying to unlock your phone. Here’s how to do it:
- Head to Settings.
- Scroll to Fingerprint Unlock.
- Enter your PIN when prompted.
- Select Add fingerprint.
- Follow the steps to scan your entire fingerprint.
You can also delete unwanted fingerprints from the same menu.
Learn more: How fingerprint scanners work
9. Try Battery Share
One of the other key features of Google’s new wireless charging setup is support for reverse wireless charging. Google calls its new wrinkle Battery Share, and it can pass some of your Pixel 6’s charge off to other phones or accessories that support wireless charging. It’s not very fast — somewhere around 4.5 to 5W — but it can be a lifesaver if your battery is low.
Battery Share couldn’t be easier to turn on, and there are two ways to get the job done. The first is to head into your Settings app and look for the Battery section. Then locate Battery Share and toggle it to On. You’ll also find an option to set your Battery Share cutoff, which is set to 10% by default. This means that your Pixel 6 will stop sharing its charge once it hits that level. If you plan to use Battery Share often, you can add it to your Quick Settings by using the pencil icon in the notification shade.
While we’re talking about power, it might not be a bad idea to grab a compatible charger. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro support up to 21W speeds with USB PD PPS, though there’s no charger in the box. This is the same standard that Samsung’s Galaxy devices require, though Google’s speeds aren’t quite as fast. Check out some of our favorite chargers right here.
10. Tweak your camera settings
One last Pixel 6 tip to make your phone feel a bit more your own is to adjust your camera settings. Our favorite tweak to make is using the volume button to control your camera zoom. Instead of pinching and squeezing on the display, this lets you tap volume up to zoom in or volume down to zoom out. It’s especially helpful on the massive display of the Pixel 6 Pro where pinch-to-zoom or tapping the preset zooms distances can be a bit more fiddly.
While you’re at it, you can toggle your camera sounds, choose how you want to use Night Sight, and set helpful guides like a grid or the Golden Ratio. To set your camera controls, follow these steps:
- Open the Camera app.
- Open the Settings gear in the top left corner.
- Tap on the More Settings button.
- Select the Gestures option.
- Choose your Volume key action.
If you don’t want to use the zoom feature, you can also control the shutter and your camera volume.
Those are our favorite Pixel 6 tips to customize your new Google phone out of the box. If you have any others tricks to share, be sure to let us know in the comments below!