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How to get the Pixel 2’s best features on any Android device

by Brandon Russell | October 21, 2017October 21, 2017 9:00 am PST

There are several reasons to check out the Google Pixel 2, from its market-leading camera to its powerful specs. But the device’s software is also a major draw—it’s the cleanest version of Android available, and it comes with some Pixel-specific perks, too.

Short of buying a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, it’s pretty easy to make your Android device look like it’s running Google’s latest launcher—and that includes placing the search bar beneath your dock.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll focus on Nova Launcher, which we’re most familiar with. There are several other launchers available, so don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment. Here’s how to make your Android device look like the Pixel 2 using Nova Launcher.

Note: Some of the features mentioned in the tutorial require you to purchase Nova Launcher Pro. This is not a paid endorsement from Nova Launcher. We just like cool stuff.

Tweak that search bar

When you first install Nova Launcher, the look and feel is pretty close to “stock” Android, with rounded icons and a pretty clean interface. I wouldn’t blame you if you simply stopped there and called it a day.

But the beauty of using a launcher like Nova is because of its powerful features. While we won’t dive into every single one of them, there are options for tweaking icon size, grid size, dock size, and more.

Getting the search bar below your dock is pretty easy in the latest Nova Launcher beta. Simply jump into your Nova Launcher settings > Dock > and click Searchbar in dock. The option you want is “below icons.” Bingo!

It’s a pretty painless and straightforward process. You can even tweak the search bar to feature a different style, color, and logo—not things you could do with Pixel 2 launcher out of the box.

At-a-Glance

The second component of the Pixel 2 launcher is the At-a-Glance widget, which displays the date, weather, and other important information, like an upcoming appointment. Google, of course, doesn’t make this widget available to competing Android handsets, so one plucky developer made an alternative.

Another Widget mimic’s the Pixel 2 launcher’s At-a-Glance feature with weather information, calendar integration, and more. And the good news is Another Widget is free, and it works on any device running Android 4.4 and above.

It’s worth noting that since Another Widget launched, it has run into its fair share of issues. But recent reviews say the widget is improving, with the latest update coming on October 16. With more tweaking, there’s potential for Another Widget to become even more powerful than Google’s At-a-Glance feature.

Hopefully, Nova Launcher can come up with its own alternative. For now, Another Widget looks like the best and most powerful solution available.

If you look closely, you can see cars driving on the road. GIF made via MKBHD.

Live wallpapers

The final component, and one that I absolutely adore, are the Pixel 2’s living universe wallpapers. They’ve not crucial to the Pixel 2 experience, but they add some life to the lock and home screens; I’m a big fan of the live wallpaper for Lagos.

While the live wallpapers were designed to bring life to the Pixel 2, the Android community has made it possible to get them working on devices running Android 6.0 and up. All you need is Google’s official Wallpapers app and the live wallpapers file extracted from the Pixel 2, which you can find right here.

Once you have all the components, hop into Google’s Wallpapers app and you’ll see a new section for Live Wallpapers. Simply pick your favorite and you’re done. Unfortunately, even though Google’s latest handset features Motion Photos, you can’t make your own live wallpaper (yet).

Grab the Pixel 2 launcher

If you don’t feel like working with the Nova Launcher, you can also grab the Pixel 2 launcher, which was recently made available by XDA. Installing it requires a little more know-how, but everything should work pretty well if you have a device with Android Lollipop and above.

I’m still not convinced putting the search bar beneath the dock is Google’s best idea, but I understand why it’s there. Not only is it easier to reach, it encourages users to perform more searches because of its convenient placement.

If you’re going to use Nova Launcher, I’d experiment with its robust features to get the exact look you want. It goes well behind simply mimicking the Pixel 2 launcher, offering users powerful customizability options that highlight why people love Android so much.

You can get Nova Launcher from the Google Play store right here.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.

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