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Fresh out of the box: 10 ways to make your Google Pixel 7 better
The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have arrived. On the surface level, they look a lot like their predecessors, but there are some significant changes under the hood. The refined hardware is starting to catch up to Google’s feature-rich software, giving the phones more potential than ever. If you’ve just picked up a Pixel 7 or 7 Pro and you’re looking for a bit of guidance, we have you covered. We’ve put our heads together to pick some of the best Google Pixel 7 tips to get you started.
Google Pixel 7 tips and tricks
1. Turn on Now Playing
Music is everywhere. It’s impossible to stop at a gas station or sit in a restaurant without hearing a popular song or an instrumental. The hard part is knowing just what you’re listening to. Hearing a song and not knowing the name or who it’s by can be enough to drive you crazy the rest of the day, but the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have a fix. Google introduced Now Playing a few years back, and it’s one of our favorite features to turn on. Here’s how to do it:
- Head to your Settings menu.
- Open the search bar and type “now playing.”
- Tap on the top result and toggle the setting to On.
Of course, you might have already set up Now Playing, as it’s an option in the initial startup for the Pixel 7 series. If not, this is a great first Google Pixel 7 tip to try.
2. Set up Face Unlock
I set the next thing you should do with your Pixel 7 up your biometric security. You have a few extra options this year thanks to the return of Face Unlock, a feature that’s been on hiatus since the days of the Pixel 4. It combines the sharp 10.8MP selfie camera with Google’s robust machine-learning capabilities to unlock your phone. The return of Face Unlock should be beneficial for the colder months, especially when you can’t be bothered to take your hands out of your gloves for the fingerprint reader.
However, we should mention that the Pixel 7’s Face Unlock has limitations. Due to its lower-level security, you won’t be able to use it to confirm purchases or make banking transfers. Where some face unlocks, like Apple’s Face ID, use a flood illuminator and an IR sensor, the Pixel 7 relies solely on its camera. You’ll have to set up a PIN, a passcode, or log a few fingerprints in the much-improved optical scanner for the rest of your security needs.
Here’s how to set up Face Unlock if you skipped it during setup:
- Head to the Settings menu.
- Open the Security section.
- Look for the section marked Face & Fingerprint Unlock and tap on it.
- Enter your PIN or passcode to access your biometrics.
- Select the Face Unlock option and follow the setup steps.
The Face Unlock scan is as simple as can be, but we recommend adding a fingerprint or two for when you don’t have enough ambient light or when you need to make a purchase.
3. Buy a Google Pixel 7 case
One thing we recommend for every device, no matter its price, is a reliable case. Gorilla Glass Victus and aluminum are tough materials, but they’re still not invincible. Dropping your phone in just the right — er, wrong — way could spell doom for any number of the fragile components, and you don’t want to run around with a busted-up Pixel 7 for the life of your phone. Our next Pixel 7 tip is to invest in a good case, and we’ve done what we can to pick some options for you.
After Google’s Pixel 6 cases tended to fade and discolor last year, we’re happy to report that the first-party options are much better this time. The Google Pixel 7 Pro offers a Hazel case that skips the transparent design altogether and adds a pop of color if you pick a Snow or Obsidian model. Check out our guides to the best Pixel 7 cases and Pixel 7 Pro cases.
4. Test out Battery Share and buy a compatible charger
The Pixel 7 series is capable of some pretty impressive battery life. We stretched the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro beyond a day of usage, and that’s while they were still learning our habits. Now, they’ve gotten even better, and it’s easy enough to share the charging love. Both devices are capable of Battery Share, which is the same as reverse wireless charging. It’s a good feature to have on long trips, especially when you forget to charge your wireless earbuds.
Here’s how to take control of Battery Share:
- Open the Settings menu (yes, again).
- Scroll down to the Battery section and select it.
- Look for the Battery Share feature and tap on it.
- From here, you can toggle the setting and choose a charging cutoff point.
While we’re on the subject of battery, another Google Pixel 7 tip is to ensure that you have a compatible charger. Like last year, the Pixel 7 series boasts the best results with a first-party Pixel Stand, but they’re not up to Google’s 30W rate. You’ll need a USB PD PPS-enabled charger for the best speeds, and that’s not something that everyone will have. Looking for suggestions? We’ve rounded up some favorite Pixel 7 Pro chargers.
5. Set up Call Screening and other calling features
Has anyone tried to reach out to you about your car’s extended warranty recently? If not, you’re probably the only one. However, there’s a better chance that you’re like the rest of us and have been bombarded. If that’s the case, it’s good you got a Pixel 7. Google has some of the best call management features, and filtering spam is only the start. The Pixel 7 can also hold for you, make reservations at restaurants that don’t mind robot calls, and screen calls if you’re not sure whether they’re spam or not.
Unlike most features you control from the Settings app, all of the phone features are tucked away in the dialer app. Here’s a quick rundown of each Assistive option:
- Hold for Me: In some cases, Google Assistant can take the boredom out of being stuck on hold. The Pixel 7 can wait until it identifies someone on the other end of your call and alert you that your time on hold is over.
- Spam and Call Screen: The Pixel 7 is smart enough to know that you probably don’t need to hear about an extended warranty for the hundredth time. In those cases, it can automatically send the caller straight to your voicemail and leave you none the wiser. However, it’s also smart enough to recognize that not every mystery caller is spam. You can answer numbers that could be a doctor’s office or otherwise, or even screen them to let Google Assistant figure out why they’re calling.
- Direct My Call: There’s nothing like talking to a live person, but that’s not always an option. Sometimes you have to battle through menu after menu of robotic options to get there. This feature helps to transcribe those options and lets you read each one before you make a decision. It helps to clear up the confusion of what the first option was by the time you get to option six.
6. Tailor your Google Pixel 7 look with Material You
As the creator of Android and the mind behind the Material You design language introduced with Android 12, it’s fair to expect some solid customization options from the Pixel series. Fear not, because the Pixel 7 delivers. Pixel 6 users should immediately recognize the interface, with options to change your wallpaper and tune the accent colors to match.
If you want to get in-depth, you can also set up the color-matched icons, though they’re limited mainly to first-party Google options. I’m a big fan of the color unity, though it limits what I put on my home screen. I want everything to match, so I have to hide most of the third-party apps I use daily in the app drawer.
All you have to do to access the wallpaper and customization options is long-press on your home screen. This should bring up a small menu that grants access to your available widgets.
7. Clean up old pictures with Photo Unblur
We can’t all claim to be great photographers. Some of us are, but there’s a better chance you have a heap of blurry images or slightly out-of-focus shots. They’re not the best quality, but you’ve held onto them for one reason or another. If they’re in Google Photos, you can breathe new life into them with the Pixel 7 series. The feature is called Photo Unblur, and it’s exclusive to Google’s latest flagships. It’s actually pretty easy and we even have a guide on how to use Photo and Face Unblur.
Photo Unblur runs through Google Photos, which is good news for longtime Google users. It means you can apply the processing to old images, even if they were taken with another phone or a dedicated camera. Then the Tensor G2 chipset goes to work, cleaning and sharpening your shots. We’ve had some pretty impressive results so far, and you can always apply other editing tricks like the Magic Eraser or its Camouflage trick while you’re at it.
8. Let Google Assistant do your typing
Another one of our Google Pixel 7 tips is a great chance to highlight a Pixel 6 feature that blew us away. We loved Assistant voice typing on the previous generation, and the Tensor chip brought it to a new level. It’s a good way to rest your thumbs and might be the most helpful accessibility feature for everyday use. The Google Assistant listens to messages you want to send and searches you want to make and transcribes them, punctuation and all.
Although Assistant voice typing is always right in front of you, it can be tough to tap the correct icon. There are two microphones in the Google Messages app, but only one transcribes text. You’ll have to tap the one next to a set of three dots rather than the one next to the smile emoji.
If you’d rather skip the Messages app, you can use Google Assistant to send texts and search from your home screen.
9. Set up safety features like Car crash detection
It feels weird to call safety features “all the rage” right now, but here we are. Longtime Pixel fans will know that crash detection has been around for a few years, though it’s not a default feature. Instead, you have to dip into the Safety app and add a few points of contact and other information for emergencies first. You can add addresses, allergies, medications, and insurance information — all of which is saved on your device — before you get control over safety checks and emergency location sharing.
Once you get through that, you should see a card within the Safety app asking if you want to turn on Car crash detection. It’s easy to activate and relies on your location, motion sensors, and ambient audio to detect a crash. Once your Pixel detects or thinks it detects a crash, it will vibrate and play an alarm at maximum volume. If you don’t respond to the alarm, your phone will attempt to dial 911 and provide information on your location.
We haven’t tried Car crash detection in a real-life scenario, but you can always use the demo button for a taste of what it sounds like.
10. Embrace new Google Pixel 7 camera modes
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Google’s flagships have impressive cameras. Sure, the hardware is mostly the same as the previous generation, but the Tensor G2 chipset brings a solid new set of features and shooting modes. We’ve touched on Photo Unblur already, which is technically a Google Photo feature, but we have to highlight the in-camera options, too. Our last Pixel 7 tip is to explore the interface and take plenty of pictures.
We never like to see a dedicated macro lens, but we love an ultrawide shooter that pulls double duty. The Pixel 7 now qualifies, thanks to an automatic macro mode that kicks in as soon as you get up close and personal with your subject. We found that it gets a good shot about half the time, so practice makes perfect. You can also run through a full range of zooms, up to 30x Super Res Zoom, which blends the telephoto lens with a healthy dose of Tensor G2 magic for decent shots.
We’ve taken hundreds of pictures with the Pixel 7 series so far, so you might just want to check the gallery instead of having us list off features.
Those are our favorite Pixel 7 tips to customize your new Google phone out of the box. Now that you’ve learned more about how to make the most of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, all that’s left is to pick one up if you haven’t already. With that in mind, be sure to check our Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro reviews.