In the run-up to the launch of the Pixel and Pixel XL, a new launcher was leaked along with other looks at software features and specs. At the time it was known as the Nexus Launcher, and it was thought to offer little in the way of added features compared to the current Google Now Launcher. Now that the Pixel line of devices have gone on sale and reviews are starting to go live – ours is tomorrow! – we know this new launcher as the Pixel Launcher. While the majority of features match up pretty closely to that of the Google Now Launcher, there are a few changes here and there. Now, the Pixel Launcher is available from the Play Store, but as you probably already guessed, only Pixels need apply.
The Pixel Launcher can be installed on to other devices, as we've covered in other posts, but it needs the installation of a Wallpaper app as well. While the latter is also available in the Play Store for all, the former is strictly for Pixel devices. Considering that this is part of the special software sauce that makes the Pixel and Pixel XL so special, this should come as no surprise. The reason the Pixel Launcher has landed in the Play Store is of course to make it much, much easier to send out updates with new features or bug fixes, and this is a trend that has been going on for some time now. It also allows Google to promote one of the features of the new Pixel phones, while also giving them the option to make it available to other devices if they want to.
Many readers will have sideloaded the original APK by now, and the arrival in the Play Store means that new versions of the app will appear a lot quicker than usual. For those that have sideloaded the app, it appears as though the app can be updated from the Play Store, but your mileage may vary if you're counting on staying up-to-date via the Play Store. If nothing else, bringing the Pixel Launcher to the Play Store will ensure a smooth experience for Pixel owners out there.