Google's trying to market the new Pixel and Pixel XL phones as premium, market-leading devices, and a big part of that is nailing the software experience. Alas, quite a few owners of Google's first-party phones aren't feeling particularly premium as of late: this lengthy discussion on Google's product forum documents a series of as-yet-unexplained software freezes and lockups. Commonalities among the users seem to be a complete freeze of the interface that lasts several seconds to several minutes, including disappearing navigation buttons.
Google's support team is aware of the problem and replying to at least some direct support requests, but replies in the forum thread are somewhat few and far between. Early responses seemed to indicate that a third-party app, Life360's family locator, was the source of the issue. And indeed, quite a few users of the app have eliminated the problem by disabling or uninstalling the app - though that's hardly ideal, since many of them considered it essential for keeping a handle on kids or other family members. But others are experiencing the same debilitating freezes without ever having installed that particular app, so it seems that whatever the software problem is, there are multiple ways to encounter it.
A frozen screenshot from forum poster Triangles - note the blank Home and Recents buttons.
Pixel and Pixel XL owners are having the same problem, which might indicate a common hardware-software issue. While it's not so widespread that it appears to be happening to all Pixel phones, it looks like a few hundred owners are seeing it at the very least. Aside from that specific Life360 app (and perhaps disabling location services, also less than ideal), there doesn't appear to be a reliable way to solve the problem at the time of writing. Drop into the thread if you're experiencing it, or contact Google's Pixel support directly.
- Google Product forums