New Kit: Pixel 4a has cool features for outdoor adventures

Snap photos of stars, identify plants and use 'Live View' maps

New Kit: Pixel 4a has cool features for outdoor adventures

Last year, the Pixel 3a phone gave people a chance to get some of the great features of the Pixel phone but at a more affordable price.

And now comes the Pixel 4a that will be going on sale from October 1st for £349 and has some cool features that are worth checking out for those of us who are in to the outdoors.

Here’s a look at some of the features you might end up using:

Night Sight helps you capture photos in low light conditions (such as sitting around a campfire). You can also point up at the night sky to get great photos of the stars when it’s used with Astrophotography switched on. To use Night Sight, follow these instructions:

Caption at the top shows that the Astrophotography function is switched on

  1. Open the camera on your phone and select Night Sight
  2. Hold your phone still by using two hands to hold your device. Spread your feet apart to create a stable base. Tip: lean against a wall or a solid object to prevent swaying back and forth. Or use a tripod.
  3. Point your camera at the view and the post-shutter viewfinder will come up
  4. Adjust your composition and prepare your shot
  5. Be patient and work with the countdown timer to capture your image
  6. Select ‘far’ on the manual focus mode for astro shots and anything within six feet, choose ‘near’
  7. Adjust the exposure compensation slider up or down if the sky photo is too bright or dark
  8. Be amazed as your photos are illuminated beautifully

Next up is Live View which you use in Google Maps and makes navigating in places that you haven’t been to before that bit easier, such as finding your B&B or campsite. To use Live View:

  1. Type your destination into Google Maps
  2. Select walking directions 
  3. Tap the ‘Live View’ button at the bottom of the screen
  4. Watch as the map turns into your camera view and follow the pop up instructions that show up on your screen

Next is Google Lens that can be used to help you to identify plants, insects and local landmarks while on a hike. To use it:

  1. Open the camera on your phone, hit more and then press Google Lens
  2. Point your camera to identify the landmark 
  3. Swipe up to learn all about it

Google Assistant can be used to answer questions you might have or to get the latest weather or find where the nearest country pub is. Simply say “Hey Google” followed by your question or command. Even better, Google Assistant can help you find the perfect picnic spot or the nearest petrol station for your return journey home.

Here are some Assistant queries to try below:

  1. “Ok Google, how long until we reach the Lake District?
  2. “Hey Google, tell me where I can find the nearest public toilets??”
  3. “Hey Google, what is the weather looking like tomorrow morning?”
  4. You can also continue the conversation by asking “Will I need an umbrella?” and Google will know you are referring to the previous question.

Capture photos in low light situations using the Night Sight mode – highlighted on the screen

Other photography features include HDR+ with dual exposure controls, Portrait Mode, Top Shot and video stabilisation.

The Pixel 4a has a Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 730G Mobile Platform, Titan M security module for on-device security, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.

There’s also a feature called Personal Safety. First launched with Pixel 4, this app makes it easier for you to specify your emergency contacts and easily share updates and your location with them when you might need help. Personal Safety also uses the device’s sensors to detect when you may have been in a severe car accident, check-in on you and help you call 999 on your behalf if you do not respond. Note: Car crash detection may not detect all accidents. High-impact activities may trigger calls to the emergency services. This feature is dependent upon network connectivity and may not be reliable for emergency communications or available in all areas. Requires location, physical activity, and microphone permissions to work. Battery Saver and Airplane Mode must be switched off. Not available in all languages or countries for availability and more information, see g.co/pixel/carcrashdetection.

Battery life is always an issue for using phones in the outdoors and there are few features that will help you monitor this.

This is the page to control the Adaptive Battery mode

Adaptive Battery on Pixel is standard by default and doesn’t require anything special. You can ensure it’s enabled by going to Settings > Battery > Adaptive Battery. The feature uses Machine Learning to determine which apps are infrequently used and limits their background battery usage. It also now predicts if a user will run out of battery before their next charge and
reduces background activity further to keep your Pixel powered longer. Note: Approximate battery life based on a mix of talk, data, standby, and use of other features, with always on display off. An active display and other usage factors will decrease battery life.

The Battery Saver gives you more battery life when you need it. Go to Settings ? Battery, and you can switch to Battery Saver which extends your battery and switches to a “dark mode” for apps like YouTube, News, Gboard and reduces pings to the network to save your battery. Pixel 4a also has a Fast Charge capability via a 18 Watt adapter plugged into a wall socket.

Price: From £349
Availability: Google Store (available from Oct 1st) Waitlist here and pre-order available from Sept 10th.
Colour: Just Black