Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL: 5 new features to try – CNET

Google’s latest smartphone is full of new features and customization options. Be it a really smart camera or painless way to see what song is currently playing, you just have to know where to look. Here are 5 tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.

Now Playing: Watch this: How the Pixel 2 plans to beat the iPhone’s camera

Because what’s outlined below works on both devices, I’m going refer to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL as Pixel 2 throughout the story.

1. Now Playing

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

We’ve all heard a song come on in a coffee shop and wanted to know the name or artist. With the Pixel 2 sitting nearby, all you have to do is look near the bottom of your display to find out.

Now Playing listens for music, then identifies the song, without ever transmitting any information to Google’s servers. It’s all done on the device, privately and securely.

Now Playing is an optional feature. To enable it, go to Settings > Security & location > Lock screen preferences > Now Playing. Tap on the switch to turn the feature On.

When you see a song on your screen and want to know more, double tap on it to open a Google Assistant card with links to YouTube or Play Music.

2. Squeeze the edges

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Squeezing the bottom half of the Pixel 2 will immediately launch Google Assistant, regardless if the phone is locked or if you’re in another app.

You can adjust how soft or hard you have to squeeze, as well as customize the only other action Active Edge currently has, by opening the Settings app and searching for “Active Edge” using the included search bar. If you’d rather tap your way to the settings page, open Settings > Apps & notifications > Default apps > Assist & voice input > Active edge (way too many taps).

There, you can adjust pressure, disable squeeze for assistant, allow when screen is off, and enable or disable the ability to squeeze the phone to silence an incoming call.

As you adjust the slider along the top you can test out the new pressure setting without triggering Assistant.

3. At a glance information 

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The home screen of the Pixel launch has a new section called “At a glance.” Whenever you unlock your phone, you’ll notice the current date and weather conditions where the Google search bar used to reside. This section will also display upcoming calendar entries or traffic alerts, letting you keep tabs on your day… at a glance.

Unfortunately, you can’t move or completely disable the new feature, but you can control what information it will display. Long-press on the “At a glance” section of the screen, then tap on Preferences when the button pops up.

Disable either calendar or traffic alerts, based on your preference.

Use the new search bar for apps 

Speaking of the search bar, you’ve undoubtedly seen it at the bottom of the Pixel 2’s screen. It’s easier to get to, especially if you’re using a large screen device, but it’s kind of annoying. 

Sadly, you can’t move it, nor can you turn it off. But one tip that can at least make it a little more useful is to use it to search for apps on your device, instead of swiping up and going through the app drawer.

4. Try Google Lens

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google Lens, a new feature from Google that identifies objects in your photos, is exclusive to the Pixel 2. At launch, the only want to access it is through the Photos app.

After taking a photo, or if you just want to experiment with old photos, launch the Google Photos app, select a picture, then tap on the Lens logo along the bottom.

An Assistant card will pop up, showing any relevant information for whatever is in the photo.

5. Fast pairing

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Google announced a new Made for Google accessory line to go with the Pixel 2. Any of these devices are designed to be easy to pair with your Pixel 2.

How easy? Turn on compatible headphones with your phone next to them, tap on the alert, and you’re done. It’s just as easy as pairing Apple’s AirPods to an iPhone. For the time being, the feature only works on the Pixel 2. However, Google will add the feature to older devices in the future.

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