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September 14, 2016

How to download Pixel and Pixel XL’s Launcher for Android

by John_A

Ahead of the long-rumoured Pixel and Pixel XL’s launch, it appears as though their particular Android launchers have leaked. You can download and install them on your device now to get a taste of what the software will look like on the Nexus-replacement phones.

Apart from virtually confirming the next all-Google phone names, it offers a peak at how the Android experience is going to change in the near future. You can find out everything we think we know about the Pixel and Pixel XL by hitting up our in-depth feature. 

Before we dive in to the guide, we have to warn you that the launcher software is only available through unofficial routes. You’ll need to download it through Mega download. As with any unofficial source, we can’t vouch for the security or the validity of the software, and so if you choose to download it and install the launcher, you do so at your own risk. 

If you’re wanting to avoid unofficial routes, you’ll likely need to wait until the Pixel and Pixel XL are officially available before you can install their launchers. That’s if Google makes the launcher available on the Google Play Store. In the mean time, you can check out our feature on how to install a third party launcher, and why it makes sense to do so. 

Prepare your phone

Before you start, you need to ensure your phone allows apps to be installed from unofficial sources. Head to settings>security then find the “Unknown sources” toggle, and switch it to the on position. 

Pixel Launcher: Download and install

Once you’ve done that, you want to download the Pixel Launcher zip file from Mega. You can either download straight through your browser, or by using the Mega app. Download Link courtesy of Android Police/@LlabTooFer.

Once downloaded, you’ll notice two zip files. One is the main Pixel Launcher itself and the other is the redesigned wallpaper picker. All you need to do is open the files and it’ll run the install process and directly install it on to your device.

Pixel Launcher: New home screen

The first thing you’ll notice upon installation is that the style of the home screen has changed. The date and the day sit on the top right of the screen while a white tab sits opposite, on the left. In the final version, this G tab slides across to reveal the Google Now screen, but with the launcher installed in the way we’ve done it, it doesn’t do anything. 

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL: Release date, rumours and everything you need to know about the next Nexus

There is a way to install the launcher so that it will work, but that involves a level of knowledge and nouse as well as messing with system partitions, which could do more damage than good if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

In one of the early versions of the Android 7.0 Nougat developer preview, the folders were redesigned to resemble circular windows looking in to the included apps. That style seems to be returning with the Pixel Launcher. Adding apps to folders is as easy as dragging and dropping icons on top of each other.  

Pixel Launcher: New app drawer

Unlike pretty much every version of Android ever, the app drawer no longer has its own icon in the dock at the bottom of the home screen. Instead, there’s a small arrow. To open the app drawer, you just slide up from the dock and the app drawer completely fills the screen. 

Like a lot of other launchers, there’s a search feature which lets you type in any app name to find it either on your device or – if it isn’t installed – on the Play Store. 

Pixel Launcher: New wallpaper picker

In the Pixel Launcher, if you press and hold the home screen you’ll get the usual options which let you change wallpaper, add widgets or access the launcher’s settings. The new wallpaper picker is noteworthy, since it’s been completely redesigned. 

The top of the wallpaper picker shows the home and lock screen wallpapers separately, then has a collection of categories for you to choose from. These include cityscapes, landscapes and more abstract stuff designed by various photographers and artists. These are in addition to the default Android wallpapers that come with the launcher, or any photos you have on your device. 

It could mean you’ll never need to download a wallpaper app from the Play Store again, presuming Google keeps it updated with fresh, attractive and high-res images. 

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