“The Pixel Launcher and comes with some big changes to the traditional Google Now Launcher”
While we already know that Google might be rebranding its Nexus brand of smartphones to ‘Pixel’, it seems like the technology giant is revamping the Google Launcher that Nexus devices used to ship with too. With the recent apk leak changing the name of the launcher from Nexus to Pixel, we decided to check out the rebranded launcher and highlight all the changes it brings to the traditional Google Now Launcher. For what it’s worth, the new Pixel Launcher looks very similar to the Nexus launcher that was leaked last month. Let’s look at what’s new.
The first thing that users will notice with the revamped Pixel Launcher is the presence of a pill-like Google shortcut beside the date widget on top. Users can tap the Google shortcut which will bring up the usual search bar. It’s also worth mentioning that the date widget isn’t actually a ‘widget’ at all, in the sense that it doesn’t offer any added functionality. Tapping it doesn’t open the calendar app, and you can’t move it around either, which is a bummer. The Pixel Launcher also brings an updated app folder, with previews of four apps in the folder rather than the usual stacked look.
The App Drawer
The next thing that will attract your attention is that there is no app drawer button – which is not to say that there is no app drawer either. Google has simply omitted the button to make the Pixel Launcher appear more minimalist. In order to access the app drawer, users can swipe up from the dock or tap the little arrow present just above it. A swipe down gesture can be used to close the app drawer. Not much has changed in the app drawer besides it offering a slightly bigger grid size allowing more icons in a single row. The most used apps are highlighted at the very top, above which is a search bar allowing users to quickly find the app they need.
Sideloading the Wallpaper Picker along with the Pixel Launcher app will give users access to Google’s new wallpaper style setup. This can be accessed by long-pressing anywhere on the homescreen and tapping wallpapers. Inside, users will be greeted by a ‘My Photos’ tab along with an ‘On-device Wallpapers’ tab which are pretty self-explanatory. Scrolling down further, users will notice the addition of different categories like Landscape, Earth, Live Wallpapers, etc., along with an option to select all the third-party wallpaper apps/packs they have installed.
Selecting one of the pre-defined categories will highlight all the different wallpapers that the category has along with a daily wallpaper option, similar to what we’ve seen with Huawei’s Magazine Unlock option in EMUI. Users can let the launcher pick a different wallpaper every day with the option of updating them over Wi-Fi. An interesting thing to note about the wallpapers from the pre-defined category is that users can also tap the explore button to see the source of each wallpaper. This functionality works differently for each category. For instance, users are redirected to the exact location on Google Maps for all the satellite images present in the Earth category, where as for Landscape wallpapers, they are directed to a 500px link.
That sums everything there is to know about the new Pixel Launcher. Google is expected to launch the new HTC-made Nexus Sailfish and Marlin devices on October 4th as the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. You can download the Pixel Launcher and Wallpaper picker here.