Limitless customizability is Android’s strongest suit and, usually, it starts with the way our devices look and feel on the surface. Launcher applications are dedicated tools that make this happen, change the way our home screens look, tweak the behavior of the app drawer.
From Google and Samsung to OnePlus and Xiaomi, all leading smartphone manufacturers have their proprietary ROMs and stock launcher applications. While almost all of them come with their fair share of goodies, most ‘elitists’ and enthusiasts usually look for a near-stock Android experience. And using a launcher application, with almost no additional bulk, is as close to stock Android one can get without flashing a custom ROM.
Coming to stock Android, there’s nothing better than the original Pixel launcher. Sadly, Google itself hasn’t listed the launcher on Play Store, so, you’ll need to look for 3rd-party options. You can find a bunch of cool launchers in this segment — Lean Launcher, Lawnchair 2, Action Launcher — but none of them hold a candle to the Rootless Launcher.
Formerly known as Rootless Pixel Launcher, the app gives you a leaner and meaner version of the famed Pixel Launcher. All basic features are included, of course, and the seamless transition effects can easily give the official Pixel launcher a run for its money. In this section, we’ll take a look at the Rootless Launcher app and tell you how to get it up and running on your non-Google Pixel device.
What is Rootless Launcher?
When it first came out, Rootless Pixel Launcher used to work with Pixel Launcher’s original package name. It allowed the launcher to use the Google Now (Discover) panel without outside help but also kept it from being published on the Google Play Store. Developer Amir Zaidi finally ditched the package name in version 3.8 and uploaded it on the Play Store.
Currently, the app — version 3.9.1 — can be downloaded in all its glory from Google Play, but you’ll need to work a tad extra to use the Google Discover. Rootless Launcher now uses a companion app called Pixel Bridge to call upon Google Discover. Pixel Bridge is a simple handshake forwarder, which tracks the changes Google makes to its API and keeps the app usable. The developer then only needs to make changes to his launcher to facilitate those API tweaks.
All features are free and open source. The only pre-requisite here is that your device must be running Android 5 or higher to use the launcher.
How to get Rootless Launcher up and running?
Step 1: Download Rootless Launcher from Google Play.
Step 2: Install and set it as your default launcher if prompted.
Step 3: You’ll now need to install Rootless Pixel Bridge V3. You can download it from here.
Step 4: If the left-most Google screen isn’t enabled yet, go to Home Settings (press and hold the home screen to reveal menu) and toggle it on.
Well, give Action Launcher a try. It’s also a very good launcher that gives you a Pixel-like experience on your Home screen, although, you may need to pay a bit to get the coolest features.