A while back, Google moved from developing the Google Now Launcher (previously known as the Google Experience Launcher) and started to work on the new Pixel Launcher for their smartphones and tablets. It made sense for Google to discontinue the Google Now Launcher, but it certainly didn’t make a lot of people happy. With the Pixel Launcher being exclusive to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL and the Pixel C, it left people looking for alternative ways to install it.
We spoke about how to sideload the Pixel Launcher back in September of last year, and then again just last month when the updated version from the Android O Developer Preview 2 was released. These ports had drawbacks though as some important features were left out unless they were installed as a system application – which requires root access. However, a community developer started to look into this when they saw how Paranoid Android implemented the Google Now panel even if it was installed as a regular application.
The developer known on Reddit as AmirZ started to study both the Pixel Launcher as well as AOSP’s Launcher3. They spent a lot of time importing some of the code from the Pixel Launcher into Launcher3 and then found out another developer had begun working on a similar project. This developer calls himself DeleteScape, and the two struck up a conversation on Telegram to discuss it. DeleteScape was nice enough to share part of his deobfuscated code, and that resulted in AmirZ making a lot of progress.
AmirZ says one of the limitations of this Pixel Launcher port is that it has to have the same package name as the actual Pixel Launcher. Failing to do this results in the weather widget not working, so you will need to make sure Pixel Launcher is not installed before you try to install this one. They said A/B tests and the microphone icon isn’t included and there aren’t any toggles for the features. But, this version does have a working Google Now panel, the G pill animation, swipe up for the app drawer, weather widget and the date widget.