As we recently found out, Google is making some major changes to their in-house devices, going as far as dropping the established “Nexus” branding that it has used since 2010 for their Android-based devices and replacing it with a brand new line of smartphones, named “Pixel”. Pixel is meant to introduce Android 7.1 Nougat to the public, and it comes with a few new tricks up its sleeve, both in hardware and in software. One of the most noticeable changes is the inclusion of a brand new launcher exclusively for Pixel devices, named “Pixel Launcher”. This application would usually not be available for other devices, but today we’ll show you how to get Pixel Launcher on your own device!
There are a huge number of alternative launchers out there already, including Google’s very own Google Now launcher. Of course, the purpose of a launcher is mainly to launch apps and act as your homescreen, but a lot of them also attempt to do something neat with the interface or add certain features that you can’t easily find elsewhere. That’s the case with Google Now launcher, for example, as it attempts to marry the Google Now app with your homescreen, and in that respect, Pixel Launcher is pretty similar, basically acting as an updated version of the Google Now launcher. In order to download Pixel Launcher onto your device, you can simply use this link. Click on any of the versions and you’ll be taken to the download page:
Tap the download button and then launch the .apk file on your device to start the manual installation:
Once it’s done installing, when you press the home button on your device, a little prompt should pop up asking you if you want to switch launchers:
Select “Pixel Launcher” from the list, and you’ll be taken to the new app:
As you can see, in terms of interface, while there are a few different things compared to your standard Google Now launcher, a lot of the differences are relatively minor and mostly visual – it’s still a launcher, after all. However, you might notice that new Google icon on the top left, for example. It’s there to indicate that you can swipe from the left to access Google Now, just like usual, but if you tap it, you’ll be able to use it as a search bar:
You can bring up the app drawer by dragging from the bottom, but the drawer itself is business as usual, including the search bar and your most used apps at the top, although you might notice a few new features – for example, now the calendar icon will change automatically to reflect the current date:
A lot of these small touches seem like quality of life improvements that might eventually make its way to the standard Google Now Launcher, but for now, seem to be exclusive to Pixel. As usual, you can add multiple screens to your home:
And as usual, holding on an empty space will allow you to change the wallpaper, add widgets and access the settings:
In order to access the wallpaper section, you’ll have to install an additional app, which you can download from here, using the same method as before. Once you install it, you should be able to access the new wallpaper picker, which comes with a few of the stock wallpapers from Android 7.1:
In terms of adding widgets, it’s pretty much business as usual, with the vertical list allowing you to drag new widgets onto your screen and resize them at will:
With this lesson, we have shown you how to download and install Pixel Launcher for yourself so you can check out what the new version of Android will come with. Just like with Nexus devices, Pixel devices will contain a mostly stock version of Android and will serve as developer reference devices in terms of specs and features. That means that a lot of the things we have talked about here will probably make its way to the public version of Google Launcher eventually, but until that happens, this is the only way to check out the updated look and see what’s coming around the corner. Any questions or doubts? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below!