By Patrick Lucas Austin
December 26, 2018
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Google’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL were some of the best Android devices released this year, so if you were lucky enough to unwrap a Pixel for yourself this holiday season, you’re in luck. It runs Google’s latest Android operating system, has an amazing camera that uses machine learning to improve photos, and looks pretty good as long as you ignore the notch.

The Pixel 3 gets even better if you take advantage of a few tricks to get the most out of your device. Here’s a handful of handy tips:

Keep your phone unlocked at home

It’s a pain to enter your passcode, lock screen pattern, or use your fingerprint to unlock your smartphone every time you pick it up, especially if you’re just hanging around at home. Luckily, Google’s Smart Lock settings can keep your phone unlocked in situations when you probably don’t need to be super secure. Using Smart Lock, you can keep your phone unlocked when it’s in a certain location, when it’s near certain trusted devices, or when it’s set down after being in your pocket or hand while you travel. To change your Smart Lock settings, visit your Settings app and go to Security, then select Smart Lock.

Get Google’s data-saving app

The more you use your smartphone, the more data you’re bound to consume. If you’ve got a more restrictive data plan, managing that data might be the difference between a normal day with your phone or a day spent waiting and waiting (and waiting) for your searches and downloads to finish because you’re being throttled by your carrier.

Using , Google’s own data management app, you can see exactly how much mobile data you’re using, and restrict use on a per-app basis, giving each its own daily limit. You can even “bank” data for later use when you know you’ll need it, so you’ll never be stuck with a slow connection as long as you’ve planned ahead.

Use Digital Wellness for bad habits

We all know we’re not supposed to stare at our phones and flick through pictures of our friends and their amazing lives, but we do it anyway. You can ditch that bad habit in 2019 using Google’s Digital Wellness feature. As you can guess, it shows just how much time you’re spending staring at your phone, and what you can do about it (namely, stop staring at your phone).

Visit Settings, then Digital Wellness to get a sobering picture of just how much time you spend in each app. It’s great for determining which apps to avoid (or delete) and which to keep. Other helpful features include a grayscale mode for discouraging use when you should be sleeping, and time limits, which lock you out of an app once you’ve spent your allotted minutes wasting time in it.

Choose new defaults, from voice to voicemail

Google’s own selection of default apps is fine, but if you’re someone who uses a different messaging or email app, changing default settings could save you the headache of opening the wrong app only to have to navigate to the correct one. Unlike switching default apps in iOS, Google makes it easy to do. All you need to do, besides get the new default app you want, is visit Settings, Apps & Notifications, then Advanced to see and edit your list of default apps, your voice assistant, and your default home screen launcher.

Snag a few NFC stickers

Inside the Pixel 3 is a near-field communication (NFC) sensor, which can communicate with NFC tags to share and receive information. Useful for a wide variety of reasons, you can take advantage of NFC tags to automatically enable and disable certain settings on your device.

Want your phone to keep it down while you’re studying? Tap the NFC sticker on your desk to open your language-learning app, enable Do Not Disturb mode, log the start time of your study session, and send a message to your partner, all without looking at the screen. , and when paired with an app like , they can help you walk into the office already prepped for work or open a series of apps and services you need when you get home.

Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at [email protected].

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