If you have a Google Pixel 4 device, you are a configuration away from never having to bother with them again. Most Android users who happen to have the latest, greatest iteration of Google's platform have already experienced the Call Screening feature. If you haven't, it's truly one of the best ways to avoid the never-ending deluge of spam phone calls. But that feature requires at least a minimum interaction with those spam callers.
You have to tap the Screen Call button and then wait to find out if the call is actually spam which means you have to read their reply to the canned response. With the recent update to the Pixel 4 , there's a much easier method, thanks to Auto Call Screening.
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This new feature allows you to manage unknown call settings by automatically screening numbers that match Google's spam database as well as callers that may be spammers using altered numbers. Once enabled, Android will automatically screen those calls, so you no longer have to tap the Screen Call button, as it happens, automatically, in the background. What this means is you will rarely, if ever, have to deal with spam calls again. The only thing you'll need to make this work is a Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL with the latest Android update applied. This feature has yet to trickle down to non-Pixel Android, so until that happens, you'll have to stick with the manual screening of calls.
The first thing we'll do is enable Call Screen for spam calls. To do this, open the phone app and tap the menu button in the upper-right corner. This makes it much, much faster than before and more secure as well.
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- Speed, but not for long.
Considering a lot of people use G Suite for business or school, this is a huge disappointment. Not only is it blazing fast, transcribing your speech in close to real time, it is also searchable. This means you can search dozens of saved voice recordings for a particular word or phrase and identify the recordings in which it appears. The Pixel will even show you a timeline of those recordings with the searched-for words or phrases highlighted. This means you can see a transcription in real-time, even without a data connection. You can also export either the audio or transcription to Google drive if you want to share them.
Android 10 on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL is generally great. Read on to see why feature drops have the potential to be a big deal, and not just for Pixel users. One odd thing to address: David suffered from a weird launch delay when firing up the Settings menu on the XL. According to Google, wide-angle lenses are fun but zoom is more useful. Agree with that or not, the fact remains that the Pixel 4 camera system is not as versatile as many other phones out there that offer all three Apple iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 , etc.
The 2x tele lens not only lets you get zoomed-in shots at optical quality, it also contributes to Super Res zoom for better in-between zoom ranges and helps with portrait mode improvements. The real killer feature on the Pixel 4 camera is astrophotography mode, which is so insane you have to see it to believe it. The real killer feature on the Pixel 4 camera is astrophotography mode , which is so insane you have to see it to believe it.
When in Night Mode, if the Pixel 4 detects the light is low enough and the sky is visible it will enter astrophotography mode automatically. It then takes up to sixteen second-long exposures, aligns and tweaks them in the background and pops out the kind of astrophotography you normally only get from a fancy DSLR and a lot of editing.
The results speak for themselves and are truly incredible. What lenses the Pixel 4 has, though, are very impressive. The Pixel 4 manages to capture more detail than the Pixel 3, handles white balance even better thanks to a machine learning-based algorithm, and improves on HDR, portrait mode, and selfies.
We did note selfies occasionally left some subjects looking a little plasticky while others were fine. Portrait mode cutouts were more accurate and bokeh was slightly more realistic. We have a massive Pixel 4 camera comparison that dives into tons of detail, so go check that out. The Pixel 4 camera is once again the very best smartphone camera we've seen. But its lead is slowly eroding.
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The Pixel 4 can preview what your image will look like before you take the shot, so you can see the processing before it actually happens. Seeing HDR in real-time means Google was able to add local adjustment sliders when you tap. Where previous devices would balance exposure to the area you tapped on, that action has been remapped to reveal brightness and shadows sliders. How good is Pixel 4 face unlock? Face unlock on the Pixel 4 is fantastic. It even works upside down.
It uses two near-infrared NIR cameras, a flood emitter, and dot projector for a very iPhone-like face unlocking experience. In my testing, face unlock on the Pixel 4 was faster than the iPhone 11 every time. I should mention that while I had no issues with Motion Sense detecting my hand as I reached for the phone, David did. For him, the experience was much less reliable than it was for me.
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The lack of a fingerprint scanner is a bit disappointing here, because face unlock is not foolproof. There is also the issue of biometric login for apps. Yes, you can just use your PIN, but this feels like a step backward, not forwards. It should be noted that Android 10 supports a new catch-all API for bio-authentication that includes face unlock.
This means developers should be able to update their apps fairly easily, but Google needs to be more assertive with making sure it gets done. What about video? The Pixel 4 shoots perfectly fine p video at 30, 60, and fps, but you can only shoot 4K video at 30fps on the main camera.
This is disappointing for a phone that tries to position itself as a camera-first device. The company is very clearly invested in breaking new ground where mobile photography is concerned, but video is sadly a second-class citizen. Audio is perfectly good on the Pixel 4. There are stereo speakers on the Pixel 4 via the earpiece and a bottom-firing speaker.
I report on technology. And I got hacked. In the process, Google has clearly attempted to drum up consumer excitement for the device ahead of its official launch alongside other new hardware products at an event in New York City on Tuesday. But the company has also arguably created a different challenge for itself: What else can Google say to hype up its flagship phone at the event that wasn't known before? Here's what information is out there already: The Pixel is expected to finally trade in its one rear camera for two -- a move in line with most smartphones on the market but still one short of the iPhone 11 Pro's three rear-camera offering.
The cameras will be tucked into a square-like fixture on the top left of the device, closely resembling Apple's new camera structure. The Pixel 4, which is expected to come in standard and XL sizes, features a Soli radar chip to enable more secure facial recognition and air gestures, as demoed in a video promo on YouTube.
Photos have circulated of the Pixel 4 in various colors, including a new orange that was featured in a giant Times Square billboard promoting the launch event. The new features will likely "keep Google in the conversation but not necessarily bring it ahead," according to Ramon Llamas, research director at market research firm IDC.
The biggest thing Apple didn't announce at its iPhone event. Google doesn't even break out phone sales when it reports quarterly earnings results, instead lumping it into a product category it calls "other revenue. The Pixel has remained a largely niche product due to relatively high pricing and limited distribution -- it's only available in the US, exclusively on Verizon.
Customers can buy an unlocked version from Google or another retail store, but they'll end up paying full price. It could launch soon on more carriers, possibly on Sprint , but a global expansion is unlikely as of now. Google also faces the same challenges as its competitors: a saturated smartphone market and consumers who are waiting longer to upgrade their perfectly fine older devices.