So, you’ve successfully managed to pick yourself up a shiny new Google Pixel. It’s the first phone made by Google and if you’re coming from an old Samsung or iPhone, there’s a good chance having a “stock” Android device is new to you. To ensure you’re fully prepared to go out and conquer the world with your brand new Pixel, we want to make sure you’re utilizing all the tools at your disposal.
Although the following guide is more geared to the new or casual Android user (feel free to share with your non-tech savvy friends/family), we think veterans will still find a few useful items as well. Whether you’ve recently received the Google Pixel — or it’s still coming in the mail — here are the 15 first things every Pixel owner should do.
Grab a backup charger… you’ll need it!
We know, this one sounds somewhat obvious, but to ensure your Pixel is charging the fastest — and safest — it can, it’s best to stick with OEM cables and chargers. The Pixel features fast charging technology of which Google says is capable of delivering 7 hours of usage with only 15 minutes of charging. You won’t get those charging speeds with just any old charger, which means you’ll want to bring the included Pixel charger wherever you go (work, business trips, vacation, etc).
Best Amazon Alternative:
Official Pixel Chargers from Google:
- 18W USB-C Power Adapter / Cable – $35
- USB-C to USB-C Cable – $25
- USB-C to USB-A Cable – $25
- Belkin 27W USB Type-C Car Charger with Cable – $45
If you’re looking for other, more affordable cables — still recommended by Google’s own Benson Leung — check out 10 Recommended USB-C Chargers for the Pixel and Pixel XL.
We also wanted to make sure everyone knows the potential danger of buying/using cheap, non-certified USB Type-C cables. Not too long ago, it was revealed that non-compliant USB-C cables had to potential to completely fry your devices. Not exactly worth saving a few bucks over something that could kill your $700 smartphone.
Transfer data from iPhone to Pixel with the Quick Switch Adapter
Included in the box of your new Pixel is Google’s new Quick Switch Adapter. This adapter allows you to plug your old smartphone directly into the Pixel, transferring over most of your old data like photos, SMS messages, and more. Transferring data using the adapter is relatively straight forward and works on most Android devices (Lollipop+) and iPhones (iOS 8+). You’ll first be asked to initiate a transfer using the adapter during the initial setup process, with the option to see “Other ways to copy data.”
If you’re coming from an iPhone — Don’t skip it. This method is your best friend.
To get started, use the USB cable from your old device and plug it into the adapter. After that, you’ll need to connect the adapter to the Pixel first, then plug it into your old device and follow the steps on-screen to begin moving your old stuff on over. Don’t worry about the process transferring everything over, after it gets an initial read of the data on your old device, you can choose exactly which stuff you want to transfer (SMS, photos, contacts, etc.).
Secure the Pixel with your fingerprint
Like most high-end Android these days, the Google Pixel has a lightning quick fingerprint sensor on the back. Placement aside, the sensor makes it easy to secure and lock down your phone without having to fiddle around with passwords or PINs.
You’ll first be asked if you’d like to secure your device with a fingerprint during the initial setup process (you’ll still need to choose an alternate lock method in case your finger tips aren’t available). You can also find and manage additional fingerprints by jumping into Settings > Security > Pixel Imprint > (Confirm password/pattern). It’s here you’ll be able to rename your fingerprints, delete them, or add new ones.
Set up emergency info to show on the lock screen
A semi-new feature in Android is the ability to show emergency information and contacts directly on the lock screen. This could come in handy in the event of an emergency where medical information or an emergency contact could be provided to responders without them needing full access to your phone. Here’s where you’ll find the setting:
- Open the Settings app
- Scroll down and tap Users
- Select Emergency Information
- Add Info and/or Contacts
Setup the brand new Google Assistant
Google Assistant is a hot new feature available exclusively on the Google Pixel (at least for now). You’ve probably already run into the feature during the initial Setup Wizard, when you trained it to recognize your voice. In case you skipped this step or you wanted to tinker around with some more of its settings, just long press the home button to pull up Google Assistant, then tap the 3-dot overflow menu, followed by Settings.
From there, you’ll find options for reading the contents displayed on your screen, unlocking your device using the “Ok Google” command, and lots more. You can even choose the individual news sources when Assistant reads you back your news for the day, unlock your phone using only your voice, or view the shopping list Assistant has stored in Google Keep.
Enable the now hidden Google Hangouts
In case you haven’t heard the news, Hangouts is no longer in the Google core GMS package. That means manufacturers are no longer forced to pre-install the app if they want access to the Google Play Store. The Pixel is one of the first examples of this and while Hangouts technically comes pre-installed on the phone, it’s disabled by default. That means if you want to use it (and continue receiving messages), you’re going to have to enable it.
Don’t worry, it’s easy. Just open the Google Play Store and search for “Google Hangouts.” Once you’ve located the app listing, tap the Enable button and the app will magically begin working again. You won’t be able to delete it, but should you decide you no longer want it running on the Pixel, this is where you’ll go to disable it, too.
Setup your Do Not Disturb schedules
Do Not Disturb is easily one of the most convenient Android features — but only if you enable it. Most people probably aren’t even aware it exists, but when they do, it’s life changing. Because nobody likes having to remember to mute their phone before bed, Do Not Disturb — or DnD — allows you to automatically mute your device during set hours and days.
The best part is there are additional settings to allow (whitelist) callers/messages from your contacts in the event of an emergency, while still allowing your alarms to sound off in the morning. Just go into Settings > Sound > Do not disturb and create your own automatic rules.
Get unlimited backups of your photos and videos for FREE
Right now, anyone can take advantage of Google Photos unlimited photo backup, but only at “high quality” and videos are backed up at a max of 1080p. Seeing as how the Pixel is the first phone “made by Google,” owners get to enjoy a pretty sweet perk when it comes to Google’s photo backup service: Google Pixel owners enjoy the exclusive benefit of unlimited original quality photos and 4K video backups — all completely free of charge.
What will you do with all this epic backup storage? Hopefully take some amazing photos.
Setup Android Pay to make purchases using your smartphone
With the ever growing number of retailers accepting mobile payments, Tap-to-Pay terminals have started to become a regular thing. In the event you forget your wallet at home, don’t trust swiping your card, or prefer using your smartphone, Android Pay makes a great alternative. Once activated, all you have to do is wake your phone and tap the back of your Android device to any Tap-to-Pay terminal (the same places where Apple Pay is accepted) and you’ll be one step closer to leaving your George Costanza wallet at home.
First things first, you’ll need to open the app so it can sign-in with your Google account. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to enter the info for your current credit or debit card, or just use one you already have on file (if you’ve ever made a purchase on the Google Play Store, you should see that card available when pressing the “+” button).
Keep in mind that not all banks are supported, so while you could try adding your card and seeing if it fails, Google has an ongoing list of supported banks here.
Make the Pixel feel even faster
Without question, the Google Pixel is the fastest smartphone we’ve ever had the pleasure of using. But all those silky smooth “Material Design” animations only get in the way of you and wherever you’re trying to go. To speed things up and make the UI feel more snappy, you can increase the speed of the animations, but you’ll first need to activate the Pixel’s hidden Developer options by following these steps:
- Open the Settings app
- Scroll down and select About phone
- Tap Software info
- Scroll down and tap Build Number 7 times
- “You are now a developer” message will appear
- Go back into the main settings and you’ll see a new option: Developer options
- Open Developer options
- Scroll down select Window animation and choose .5x
- Select Transition animation and choose .5x
- Select Animator duration scale and choose .5x
Once you’re all done, go back to the home screen and turn off the display using the power button. Wake your phone to enjoy a speedier, more kicky fast UI. Keep in mind that the setting is persistent, so you don’t have to worry about having to redo anything after a reboot or system update. For an even faster but less beautiful experience, turn animations off completely.
Keep track of your physical activity
Believe it or not, your smartphone is capable of keeping track of your physical activity right out of the box, no Fitbit needed. Well, most of it. This is thanks to all the sensors found inside. To start keeping tabs on your physical activity, Google Fit is the perfect app for casual fitness tracking.
Now, it’s not going to give you the same accurate results as a fitness wearable, but its pretty accurate, and it comes in handy if you don’t want to invest in yet another device to keep on your wrist. The best part: the apps is free to download. Just click the big green button below.
Protect your Pixel with cases and screen protectors
The Google Pixel is far from an inexpensive handset. If you want to protect your investment, the first thing you’re going to need is a case and/or screen protector. While you could overpay by picking something up at Best Buy or a carrier store, you can save a ton of money by picking them on Amazon.
It’s there you’ll find a plethora of reasonably priced cases and screen protectors, everything to keep your phone in tip-top shape when it comes to sell it/trade it in 2 years from now. Of course, you could always go with official OEM accessories on the Google Store as well. You’ll find some nice options linked below.
Google Pixel Cases on Amazon:
Google Pixel Screen Protectors on Amazon:
Official Pixel Cases from the Google Store:
- Pixel Case by Google – $35
- Pixel XL Case by Google $35
- Pixel Case by Google (Clear) $30
- Pixel XL Case by Google (Clear) $30
- Artworks Live Case $40
- Photos Live Case $40
- Places Live Case $40
Stay tuned for our full list of Best Pixel Cases and Accessories!
Download must-have apps
As great as the Google Pixel is, it would be pretty boring without apps and games. Here at Phandroid, we are always trying to showcase the best apps and games we come across on Google Play. Before you dive into the Play Store and rummage around, you’ll want to check out these lists first:
Start here: 100 Best Android Apps of 2016
More Best Apps:
- EarlyBird – News for Android
- Best Android apps for college students
- 10 Best Android Dating Apps
- Best Android Apps for learning languages
- Best Android Apps for Kids
- Best Android Games for 2 Players
- Phan Favs – best apps selected by readers
Learn how to find a lost or stolen phone
It’s something nobody thinks about until it happens, but one of the worst things that could happen to you is having your smartphone lost or stolen. In the event that it does happen, you’ll want to know exactly how to recover your device, or erase any personal information stored therein. Thankfully, Android’s built-in feature called “Android Device Manager” will help you with all of that, you just need to know how to use it.
- Go to google.com/android/devicemanager
- Select your phone from the drop-down menu
- You’ll see the device on a map and a few options for finding it (ring), locking it (if it wasn’t locked already), or erasing all of its contents
Read More: How to find a lost or stolen phone
Learn ALL the Pixel Tips & Tricks
Now that you’ve got your feet wet, it’s time to dive into the full list of tips and tricks. We’ve compiled over 40 of the best tips and tricks to help you become a Pixel Power User. You’ll learn how to save your eyes with Night Light mode, use gestures on the fingerprint scanner, get new wallpapers every day, and more! Read the full list below!
Google Pixel Forums & Help
We covered a lot of ground here, but we’re only just getting started. The best way to learn about the Pixel is to chat it up with fellow Pixel owners. There are two simple ways you can do that:
- Visit the Google Pixel Forum and the Pixel XL Forum
- Download the Channels app to automatically connect with other Pixel owners