No one likes a nuisance. And while phones are pretty much built to annoy us in certain ways, your Pixel has some spectacular tools for turning down the noise and turning up your sanity.
A smarter ring setup
I don’t know about you, but hearing my phone ring — like, from an actual incoming call (the horror!) — is almost always annoying. No matter what sound I use for the ringtone, something about the noise invariably irritates me and compels me to silence the uninvited beast as quickly as I can.
With your Pixel phone, there’s actually a better way: an option that lets you have incoming calls vibrate first, before any sound is made — and then start ringing quietly, with the volume level increasing gradually as the seconds wear on.
It’s a handy way to have an audible ringing sound there when you need it but to avoid being forced to hear that noise any more than necessary.
On the Pixel 2 or higher, mosey your way over to the Sound section of your phone’s settings. Directly beneath the four volume sliders, you’ll see an option labeled “Vibrate for calls” — or on newer Pixel models, you’ll first have to tap “Vibration & haptics” and then you’ll see “Vibrate for calls” after you tap that.
Either way, tappity-tap your person-paw onto that “Vibrate for calls” line and make sure it’s set to the “Vibrate first then ring gradually” setting — and that’s it! All that’s left is to prepare a little happy dance for the next time you get an incoming call and don’t have to have your ears assaulted.
Squeeze to silence
All right — so what about when your phone starts ringing before you can stop it? Or starts sounding an alarm, a timer notification, or even a subtle ding-a-ding-ding to let you know some manner of alert is arriving?
Here’s a super-useful Pixel secret I always forget to take advantage of: Instead of flailing around wildly and smacking haphazardly at your phone (effective of a move as that can be), just squeeze the lower part of your phone’s frame. And just like magic, that simple action will shut the sound up in no time.
The Pixel squeeze-to-shoosh option is available on all variants of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 as well as the regular Pixel 4 (but not, unfortunately, on the Pixel 4a or higher). If you’ve got any of those supported devices, open up the System section of your phone’s settings, tap “Gestures,” then tap the “Active Edge” line right below the first divider mark.
Play around with the suggestively named “Squeeze sensitivity” slider until you’re able to squeeze the phone and see it activate without too much trouble — but also without making it so easy to do that you’re likely to activate it inadvertently.
Make sure the “Squeeze for silence” toggle is activated, then decide if you want to have the “Squeeze for your Assistant” option on or off and adjust its toggle accordingly. All that’s left is to train your brain to squeeze the next time you want your phone to hush its virtual beak.
Flip to Shhh
Another oft-forgotten phone-muffling feature the Pixel possesses is the aptly named Flip to Shhh option. It does exactly what you’d expect: Once it’s activated, you can simply flip your phone over so its screen is facing down on a table (or most any flat-ish surface, including a dung beetle), and that’ll switch the phone over into its Do Not Disturb mode. When you pick the phone back up, it’ll automatically switch back out of that mode and into your normal sound profile.
Hey, Google: Any chance someone can develop a similar sort of mechanism for toddlers?
On the Pixel 2 and higher, the switch for Flip to Shhh is in that same section of your system settings we were just swimming around: Open up the System menu, tap “Gestures,” and then look for “Flip to Shhh” toward the bottom of the list. Tap it, turn its toggle into the on position, and then flip away to your flippin’ heart’s content.
A quick quieting sequence
For the times you need to silence your phone in a hurry — and you want it to stay that way, regardless of how you’re holding it — remember the Pixel’s super-simple key sequence for putting the phone on silent.
This one’s easy as can be, though it’s annoyingly available only on the first-gen Pixel through the Pixel 5a. If you have one of those devices, just press your phone’s power and volume-up buttons — the physical buttons on the side of the device — at the same time. You should feel a short vibration letting you know the action registered, and your phone will then be on its silent mode from there on out, until you go in and change it.
One thing to be aware of is that you’ll have to have the screen on (but not necessarily unlocked) before the shortcut will work. And if for some reason it isn’t working for you at all, go to the System section of your phone’s settings, tap “Gestures,” and then tap “Prevent ringing” to turn the feature on.
Your personal call screener
Forget about silencing a call: What about having someone else answer an incoming call for you? Or just keeping completely irrelevant calls from ringing your phone in the first place?
Crazy as it seems, the Pixel can handle both those tasks for you via its Assistant-connected Call Screen system (though this one is limited only to devices in certain countries as of now, including the U.S., Canada, and Japan; sorry, pals from other parts of the world!).
Open up your Phone app, tap the three-dot menu icon in its upper-right corner, and select Settings followed by “Spam and Call Screen” and then “Call Screen.”
There, you can enable your Pixel’s call screener and, in the U.S., at least, configure exactly how it works — whether it automatically screens or simply declines suspected spam and fake numbers and whether it lets first-time callers and private-number calls through, too.
Once those options are set to your satisfaction, remember that you can manually activate Call Screen anytime a call comes in that you aren’t sure about. Just look for the “Screen call” option on the incoming call interface. Tap it, and the person calling will hear a friendly message informing them that you’re screening the call and asking them why they’re trying to reach you. You’ll see everything they say transcribed as text on your screen and can then take the call, reject it, or even ask Assistant to relay specific follow-up questions or rejection messages on your behalf.
Avoiding people has never been so pleasant.