One of the biggest reasons to buy Google’s new Pixel devices is the slew of exclusive features that they have on board thanks to the newest version of Android, version 7.1 (Nougat). While some of the new features, such as Daydream VR support, rely on the Pixel hardware and will be difficult if not impossible to replicate, intrepid parties have already ported many of the new features out of the Pixel lineup and made them available to the masses. The Pixels are yet to reach many who pre-ordered but due to most of their code being available upstream for a while now, developers have had access to the new features long enough to get most of them backported.
First and foremost, let’s talk about something that was leaked out way before the Google Pixel was even announced officially, and something that can be easily installed on Android Marshmallow devices, the Pixel Launcher. The Pixel Launcher has a newer look and functions just a tad bit differently that the stock android launcher, however, apart from the aesthetics, there is no real reason why you should want to switch. So while a quick Google search can direct you to the APK, my suggestion would be that if you need the Pixel look, go for Nova Launcher, which is testing this in beta, or Action Launcher which is still quite customizable and feature packed and officially supports the Pixel look now. Getting the Pixel icons is a little tricky right now and I do’t think you’d want to go through the trouble, I mean, it’s only round icons and not that fancy either. But in any case, if you want the icons, you have to download this Google Pixel icons zip (yes it is safe), unpack it, and individually select icons which can be done if you’re running Nova launcher or Action Launcher, most third party launchers should have this feature to. There are also a bunch of Pixel icon pack son the Playstore but I haven’t tried them personally. You can try this one by Saurabh Gupta, for starters, its free.
If you happen to own a device that runs stock android, like a Nexus, or something close like a Moto, you can goto the Playstore and see if the official Pixel Launcher works for you as it is currently only for the Pixels but some users are reporting it working on other phones too.
Furthermore, apart from the Launcher, Google Pixels also come with an updated wallpaper picker app which Google has now officially released on the Playstore for all devices. It’s nothing revolutionary, but if you’re a Google fan, well, you must try it out at least if you haven’t already from the leaked APKs.
There’s a lot of talk about the Pixel’s camera prowess with Google touting is as the best smartphone camera. Here are some sample photos and a 4K video if you need a look, however, it’s not just the hardware. The Google Pixel also comes with an updated camera app which is an upgrade from the overly simplistic and lackluster stock Android camera. It’s just an updated Google Camera at v4.2 which should also hopefully soon roll out to the Playstore for everyone, but if you need it now, you can. The updated Camera app features a handful of nifty new features for shutterbugs, such as AF/AE lock, and a manual exposure slider and more. It only works on ARM64 based devices running Android Nougat however, which for now tranlates as : only for Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.
Another updated stock app, ported from the leaked Pixel images, is the Google Phone app. It remains largely unchanged compared to previous versions, but features a handful of cool new UI tweaks which may be enough to make it worth checking out. Here’s how you can get the Pixel dialer app for any device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and up. We also have an updated Google keyboard app from the Pixel which comes with two new themes and the ringtones and sounds from the Google Pixel which were in fact the first to leak out of the Pixels, err.. Nexus 2016, which is what they were called back then.
One of the Pixel exclusive features that will not be included in the Android 7.0 update are the fingerprint gestures. But thanks to some awesome developer we now have that as well. The app called Fingerprint Quick Actions works with any device running Android Marshmallow and does not require root, however, if you wish to lock the screen with the fingerprint scanner, that needs root.
Moving onto some of the more complicated things, meaning, things that will require that you have root access, Google Assistant is not Pixel exclusive anymore either, at least not if you have root. Here’s how you can get the Google Assistant on any non-Pixel devices running Android 6.0+
We also have the new boot animation from the smaller Google Pixel for devices with 1080p displays. There is an official white one and the eye friendly and fan friendly black one.