The Pixel 2 isn’t as flashy as the Pixel 2 XL, but it may actually be the better Pixel device this year. We’ve already shared our battery life first impressions and a bunch of camera samples. Now, it’s time to get into the tips and tricks. If you just got the Pixel 2 or are thinking of picking one up, here are the first things to do!
Transfer data from your old phone
One of the nicest features of the Pixel phones is the ability to easily transfer content from an old device. The Pixel 2 comes with an adapter in the box to make this process super easy. All you’ll need is your old phone and the cable that came with it. Depending on your previous phone, here’s what you can restore:
- Android devices can transfer apps, app data, contacts, settings, Google accounts, music, photos, and SMS.
- iOS devices can transfer iCloud events, contacts, iMessage/SMS, music, photos, and videos.
You’ll be prompted to restore data when you’re setting up the phone for the first time.
- Plug the old USB cable into the adapter
- Plug the adapter into the Pixel
- Instructions will pop up on the screen
- Follow the steps to move your stuff
Set up the fingerprint scanner
The Pixel 2 has a fingerprint scanner on the back (where it should be). It’s one of the fastest and most reliable fingerprint scanners on the market. You should definitely set it up and use it as your security method. It can also be used for mobile payments and Play Store purchases.
- Go to Settings > Security & location > Pixel Imprint
- If you haven’t already set up a lock screen pattern, PIN, or password, you’ll be asked to set one up
- Tap +Add fingerprint
- Choose which finger to use, touch the scanner until it vibrates, then lift your finger
- Repeatedly touch the scanner until the fingerprint has been successfully recorded
- After you’ve successfully recorded your fingerprint, tap Add Another or Done
Launch Google Assistant by squeezing
One of the unique features of the Pixel 2 is the ability to literally squeeze the phone to launch Assistant. The sides of the phone are sensitive to pressure. It’s a very quick and easy way to talk to Google Assistant.
- Go to Settings > System
- The go to Language, input & gestures > Advanced
- Select Active Edge
- Adjust the squeeze sensitivity to your liking
- Toggle on/off Squeeze for Assistant
- Toggle on/off Allow when screen is off
- Toggle on/off Squeeze for silence
Get unlimited photo and video backups for free
A big benefit of owning a Pixel phone is the free unlimited Google Photos backup you get. All owners of the Pixel phones, including the Pixel 2 of course, can enjoy the exclusive benefit of unlimited original quality photos and 4K video backups. All completely free. All you have to do is open the Google Photos app and opt-in. Seriously, this is an awesome feature. Don’t miss out.
Use the Ambient Display for quick info
The Pixel 2 has an always-on display that Google calls “Ambient Display.” It shows the time, date, and notifications when the display is off. This is handy for getting a quick look at what’s happening on your phone without unlocking the screen. It can be on all the time or only when notifications arrive.
- Go to Settings > Display
- Select Advanced > Ambient display
- Toggle it Always on, enabled Double-tap to check phone, and New notifications
Use the fingerprint scanner to show notifications
A neat trick on the Pixel 2 is the ability to swipe the fingerprint sensor to open or close the notification shade. It works exactly like swiping your finger on the screen to pull down the notification shade. Swipe down on the sensor to pull it down, swipe up to put it away.
- Go to Settings > System
- Select Languages, input & gestures
- Select Advanced (Gestures on newer versions)
- Tap Swipe fingerprint for notifications
- Toggle the switch on
Always know what song is playing in the background
The Pixel 2 has a very neat feature called “Now Playing.” This feature will automatically scan for music playing in your surroundings and display the song info on your lock screen and notifications. It’s basically like Shazam, but working all the time so you don’t have to think about it.
- Go to Settings > Sound
- Tap Advanced (skip this step on newer versions)
- Select Now Playing
- Toggle the switch on/off
Change the theme by changing the wallpaper
The Pixel 2 doesn’t support themes in the traditional sense, but you can change the “theme” with different wallpapers. A dark wallpaper will make the notification shade, app drawer, and other elements black, whereas a light wallpaper will make them white. There’s not an exact science to this. You’ll just have to test some different wallpapers to get the color you want.
- Long-press on the home screen
- Select Wallpaper
- Choose a wallpaper and apply it
Take a photo with portrait mode
One of the new features on the Pixel 2 camera is called Portrait Mode. Basically, it applies a heavy blur to the background and makes the foreground object pop. This create a very cool effect that makes the photo look like it was taken with a high-end camera. You can use it with the front and rear camera.
- Open the Camera app
- Tap the menu icon in the top left
- Select Portrait
- Tap on the subject to focus
- Tap the shutter button
- The photo will process quickly and be ready to view
Protect the phone with a case
Everybody knows there’s nothing worse that breaking a brand new phone. The Pixel 2 is a gorgeous piece of technology with glass on the front and back. The last thing you want to do is crack the glass or get a nasty scratch. One of the first things you should do is buy a case for it. Here are a few to choose from:
Download the best apps and games
The best phone in the world is pretty boring if you don’t have great apps and games to use. We’ve compiled tons of helpful guides for finding the best apps and games in the Play Store. Before you dive in and rummage around, you’ll want to check out these lists first.
- 100 Best Android Apps of 2017
- Best Apps of the Month
- Best Games of the Month
- Weekly Best 5 Apps & Games
- Best Android apps for college students
- Best Android Games for 2 Players
Install the Forums for Android app
This list is a great starting point for Pixel 2 users, but there’s a lot more you should know. You can download the Forums forAndroid app and you’ll automatically be added to the Pixel 2 forum. There you will find more helpful tips and other users like you. It’s easy to ask for help and get answers. Here are a few threads to get you started: