Hands-on with the completely redesigned Pixel Launcher


Google’s new launcher for the Pixel C and Pixel XL has leaked. It’s called the Pixel Launcher (unsurprisingly), and it confirms a few of the leaked images we saw previously. You can easily install the Pixel Launcher on your device to give it a try. Head on over here to find the two APKs that you will need to download. Let’s take a look at the new features.

The Pixel Launcher has a few big changes from the former Nexus Launcher. The most noticeable difference is the Google tab and date across the top. The tab is meant to show the user that there is more information to the left of the screen. Eventually, you will be able to swipe from the left to see Google Now. As of right now, you can only tap the tab to perform a Google search. Tapping the date does nothing, which seems like an obvious oversight.

Moving from the top of the screen to the bottom, you might notice the app drawer is gone. That’s only half true. The app drawer icon has been removed from the dock, but the drawer itself is still present. Dragging up on the dock reveals the full app drawer, which looks mostly the same. Instead of the card background it’s now fullscreen. Search and recent apps are still at the top.

Folders have a slightly new look. You can see the first four apps in the folder without opening it. A new feature that not many people are talking about is the wallpaper picker. The included wallpapers are organized into collections. You can choose a collection to rotate through all the wallpapers daily. That’s basically all the new stuff.

What do you think?

For the most part, the Pixel Launcher seems to be an improvement. The Google tab should make the Google Now page more accessible to regular people. Seeing more apps from the folder preview makes sense. The fullscreen app drawer looks nice. Some things aren’t so great, though. Why doesn’t the giant date lead to the Calendar? On some devices there can only be four apps in the dock, but in the old launcher there was room for the app drawer icon. Why can’t we have five apps?

Will you be using the Pixel Launcher on your phone?

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