Tip: Bring the Pixel Launcher to Your Android Handset

Posted on August 27, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 18 Comments

While the stock Pixel Launcher is only available on Google’s handsets, the new Rootless Launcher is a very close imitation. And it appears to work on most Android handsets.

As XDA explains, Rootless Launcher began life as a hack, of sorts, that combined the freely-available and open-source Android launcher with decomplied Pixel Launcher sources. But this past week, it was released to the Google Play Store. So now anyone can safely give it a shot.

This launcher is particularly interesting, I think, for those phones that offer their own customized launchers, in particular, those from OnePlus and Samsung. I’m currently testing this on my OnePlus 6, and I’ve confirmed that it works with the Galaxy S8+.

There are two things I really like about this launcher. First, it provides the clean Pixel Launcher look and feel, which I really prefer. And second, it provides access to the Google feed that I also really prefer. (That latter capability requires you to install the Rootless Pixel Bridge, which you’ll be promoted to do.)

The only downside, I guess, is that the phones I’d use this with are still running Android 8.x, so they’re missing some of the features I’ve come to expect from Android 9 Pie like the new gesture navigation. But this is still preferable to the custom launchers I’ve seen. And I’m guessing it will be for many of you as well.

You can download Rootless Launcher from the Google Play Store. I will continue testing this myself as well.


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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Tip: Bring the Pixel Launcher to Your Android Handset”

  1. mmcpher

    You might laugh to think so, but Blackberry has a nice, clean Android launcher and better still, Blackberry Hub which combines and organizes multiple email and social media accounts in a very useful and very customizable way. I rediscovered it trying to salvage things in anticipation of the demise of Newton email, and was surprised when y worked so well on my Note 8.

  2. Daekar

    You know, I hear people talk about how "clean" the Google launcher is, or this or that other one. What in the heck does that mean? I have literally never seen a dirty launcher. Does clean mean "no options" or something?

    I keep my phone clean by minimizing the number of apps on it and minimizing the number of home screens and whatnot that I have in the launcher. Multi-function UI elements (like using long-presses to access things keep the visual clutter down while keeping performance up. Turning off animations also helps.

    This does not require a special launcher to achieve. I have used more launchers than I can count and I apply these principles to all of them. They are all clean if you make them so.

  3. burog25c

    I'm pretty much liking the Microsoft Launcher. I think I'll stick with it for now.

  4. cdunbar

    Seems to have been removed from the Play Store :-(

  5. Spineless

    This is one example why Android makes no sense to me... Google makes the stock launcher. Why does Google need to make a custom Pixel launcher, unless they are acknowledging that their stock launcher isn't any good.

    • rickcosby

      In reply to Spineless:
      Google didn't make this. It was made by people that want to replace the custom launchers created by other companies with one that looks and acts like the Google Pixel launcher because Google only makes that available on the Pixel phones.

  6. glucero0

    Microsoft Launcher still rules. I tried this new Rootless Launcher and wasn't impressed at all.

  7. Rycott

    I always try all these different launchers.

    And I always end up back on Nova. It just has the features and options I want and I can make it look like these launchers anyway,

  8. Ted Hansen

    In your next post, please compare to the Microsoft launcher that you also liked.

  9. Boris Zakharin

    How is performance on this? I tried a lot of launchers before settling on (free) Nova, which doesn't have any noticeable lag compared to what came with my phone, and allows me to remove the search bar which was also non-removable in the default launcher.

    • FalseAgent

      In reply to bzakharin:

      Nova is actually perhaps the most performant 3rd party launcher for Android. Google's launcher performance should be as every bit as good as nova. However, I use Nova specifically because I do want to remove the search bar and the google feed, both of which I don't use.

  10. Nathan F

    ** "prompted to do"

  11. RM

    I still like the Microsoft Launcher the best.

  12. Polycrastinator

    Surprised this isn't any sort of copyright violation or similar. Hopefully they do it with the Pixel camera next. There are files out there available for download for the camera, but none in the Play store, and I don't trust external sources these days.

  13. neumarke

    Would it make any sense to install this on a updated, stock Nexus 5x, which is already running the Google Android experience?

  14. euskalzabe

    Thanks for the tip! This is miles better than the garbage launcher my phone came with.

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