As open as the Pixel phones may be, Google has included a few features that, sometimes temporarily, remain exclusive to the device. One of those is the app launcher. Fortunately, thanks in part to Android’s open nature, there have been ways to use the Pixel Launcher, as it is commonly called, on other devices. Unfortunately, most of those ways require rooting a device, which may seem to much to ask just for an app launcher. That is where AmirZ’s Rootless Pixel Launcher comes in. And in version 2.0, actually now 2.1, users can get a foretaste of what it’s like to live in Android 8.0 Oreo.
Rootless Pixel Launcher basically takes the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) Launcher3 code and adds features from the Pixel Launcher. This way, the launcher is made available to devices going as far back as Android 5.1 Lollipop, give or take a few features that depend on specific Android versions. Some of the features the Pixel Launcher adds on top of AOSP Launcher 3 include:
• Quick Search Button (QSB) with transparent rectangle, Google Pill (formerly pull tab), and Date/Weather widget
• Notification Dots (only works for Android 6.0 Marshmallow and higher)
• Google Calendar app icon with date
• Google Now feed on the left side of normal workspace
AmirZ didn’t stop there, however, and added some features of his own, like:
• Pull down notifications
• Oreo themes for older Android versions
• Icon shapes for Android 8.0 devices without enabling developer mode
• Hide Google Now Launcher from app list
• Pinch to home screen overview
• Circle icons
• Samsung Secure Folder compatibility
While Rootless Pixel Launcher, as it name so clearly states, doesn’t require root, it needs a bit more work to install and maintain than a regular app. For one, you need to uninstall the official Google Pixel Launcher if you’re already using it. There can only be one package with the “Pixel Launcher” name on the system. This convention is required to use the Weather widget on the home screen. But because of this naming conflict, and the fact that it has to be debug variant app, Rootless Pixel Launcher can’t be on Google Play Store. You’ll have to manually check GitHub for the latest version, which, at the time of this writing, stands at version 2.1.