Pixel UI Guide | A Quick Guide About Google’s Pixel UI

This post is a complete Pixel UI guide for users. If you are an Android user, you probably would have heard about One UI. And if you are a Pixel user on top of that, then you will obviously know what Pixel UI is.

Google Pixel is one of the world’s best selling smartphone brand and sports a very popular proprietary skin, which is Pixel UI. It has been Google Pixel’s underlying skin for it’s operating system and runs the device.

A common misconception among Android users is that the Google Pixel devices run on stock Android. It is only partially true because as we mentioned, Google Pixel devices have their own UI skin known as Pixel UI. Although it looks very similar to stock Android, it comes baked in extra features and goodies.

There is quite a valid reason behind why this misconception exists. This is because the Nexus lineup, which was the predecessor to the Google Pixel lineup, did in fact run on stock Android. This is the reason that assumptions were made about Google Pixel devices as well.

Pixel UI Guide | A Quick Guide About Google's Pixel UI 1

The Pixel UI Guide | First look at Pixel UI

Pixel UI

As we talked about it earlier, Pixel UI greatly resembles stock Android. That said, if you use two devices, one with stock Android and the other with Pixel UI, you would most probably think that those two are something similar. Nonetheless, taking in to consideration the Pixel device being referred to, there are a greater number of features and provisions incorporated into Pixel UI than what you’ll discover with stock Android.

As an evidence to what we stated above, there is a feature found in the latest Pixel devices known as Call Screen. It makes use of the Google assistant to determine whether an incoming call is from a legit caller or not. If the call is an automated one or is found to be spam, the feature answers the call itself so you won’t have to. This feature is only found in Pixel UI so you would not be able to find this on a device running on stock Android.

However, since Google Pixel devices address the “stock” Android phone approach, Google doesn’t meddle with the general look and feel of stock Android. Despite the fact that there are many additional features added, Pixel UI is deliberately lean and straight forward as to not divert from the plan of stock Android itself. By users, Pixel UI is well received but critics raise the issue that when we compare Pixel UI to other UI skins, the amount of features is noticeably low.

Pixel UI’s History

The first Android smartphone with the Nexus branding was released back in 2010 when Google and HTC collaborated to unveil the Google Nexus One. The Google Nexus One was the first one to come out with stock Android. This initiated a series of Google Nexus devices that were manufactured by Google, which collaborated with many other OEMs in doing so.

This carried on me 8 Google Nexus phones were released. Then in 2016, Google debuted the Pixel lineup. Which soon became the successor to the Nexus lineup and became the smartphone brand for Google. But what was this different this time was that Google didn’t co-create these devices, they were designed and made by Google themselves.

It was also on the same occasion that Pixel UI was introduced on board the first Google device. But because it was the first version of Pixel UI, it was very simple and was no different to stock Android. But as we saw, that over the years Google developed and upgraded Pixel UI and added new features while still managing to maintain the general stock Android feel. The first Google Pixel device was launcher with Android 7 Nougat. So this means that there are no Pixel UI versions older than Android 7.

Android 11 | The latest version of Pixel UI

Pixel UI Guide | A Quick Guide About Google's Pixel UI 2

When we talk about new Android versions and updates, the Pixel devices are the ones that receive it at first. This bodes as well because Pixel is owned by Google itself, which claims the Android operating system as well, so Google can improve the newer Android variants of Pixel devices without any problem.

As we said, the version of Pixel UI is related to the latest version of Android. At the time of writing, Android 11 is the latest version of Pixel UI software and when Android 12 will be released, the Pixel UI software will also be upgraded to Android 12.

How to check Pixel UI version and updates on your device

This section of the Pixel UI guide tells you how you can check the version of Pixel UI running on your device and how you can check for updates. Follow the steps mentioned below to check the version number of your Pixel UI:

  1. First of all, head over to the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Now from the list of options that appear, select About phone. You will be able to see this option once you scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  3. Now you will be able to see some key information regarding your device’s software. Also mentioned there, will be Android version running on your device. The Android number will also be the version of Pixel UI running on your device.

If you are not using a very old device and still have an older version of Pixel UI running, then you should probably check if there is a software update available for your device or not.

You can do this by proceeding to the Settings app on your device and then tap on the System section. Now tap on Advanced and then from the options that appear, tap on System Update. Now you will know if there is a software update available and you will also get the instructions on how to download and install it on your device.

If you do not have any software update available and still have an older version of Samsung’s skin on your phone, then this means that the update is not yet available for your phone.

How Pixel UI looks like

Provided below, are some pictures of Pixel UI:

Pixel UI pictures


Every brand adds various features and some exclusives to their UI skins to make them better and unique for the users. There are some features that have been added by Google that can not be found on other devices. In this section of the guide, we have shared those features:

Call Screen

This is the feature that we talked about earlier in the Pixel UI guide. Using the call screen feature, you can make Google assistant work as your private secretary, as it will manage which calls come through to you and which ones do not. When someone calls, the Google assistant will communicate with the caller like a normal person does and will send you a transcript, after which you will decide whether you want to attend the call or not. If you decide not to attend the call, the call will be sent to voicemail.

App suggestions

On the bottom of the Pixel UI home screen, there is space to fit 5 apps. Usually, these are apps that you use the most frequently, so you place them there on purpose. But Pixel UI can also change which apps will be there based on your activities. If you use a certain app at a time of the day, then Pixel UI will automatically place that app on the bottom of your home screen around that time. For instance, if you use the Google News app every morning, Pixel UI will place the Google News app on the bottom of your home screen every morning.

Astrophotography and Night Sight

Astrophotography and Night Sight are features found in Google camera, the stock camera app of Pixel UI. The astrophotography feature found on the camera app is certainly the best that is available on Android devices and can capture the night sky exquisitely. Similarly, the night sight feature allows pictures to be snapped at night time in a way that the less amount of light does not effect the lighting in the picture. This allows proper pictures to be taken even in low light conditions.

Now playing

The Now playing feature is quite a unique feature which is found in Pixel devices. It is a part of the always on display of your Pixel device. When you toggle this option on, it will show you the name of the song being played around you and the name of the artist as well. This means that you will not have to use any other app to find the name of the song, instead you could just take a look at your phone’s screen and know the name of the song and the artist.

So that was it from our side on the Pixel UI guide. We hope that you found this guide helpful. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Uzair Hussain

Uzair Hussain is a dedicated writer who loves to read and research about android phones and technology. Has always enjoyed exploring further into tech and likes to share his knowledge through publishing writings.

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