The new Google Pixel 2 smartphones will ship with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, however, that’s not to say that the latest devices don’t present new changes to the user interface. The official Pixel 2 launcher features reworked elements including a new live wallpaper as well as a reinstated search bar, which has now been moved from the top to the bottom of the home screen. Overall, Google’s efforts to create a cleaner user interface for Android OS continue to materialize with this latest flagship phone series, though for the most part the Pixel 2 experience will be similar to other devices powered by Android 8.0 Oreo.
Last year with the release of the original Pixel series, one of the biggest changes to the Android home screen was introduced by the redesigned search bar, which morphed into a new form that became known as the “pill” search tab. This year, however, Google is rethinking some of the home screen elements and as a result, the pill search tab has been replaced by a new full search bar. But unlike in previous Android OS iterations where the search bar was sitting near the top of the home screen, the same item has been placed at the opposite end near the bottom of the display. In turn, the translucent “dock” accommodating the default icons in the lower part of the home screen – which was first introduced along with the original Pixel’s pill search tab – has been removed in its entirety to make room for the new search bar. Of course, there still is a row of default icons near the bottom just like before, but these icons are no longer separated from the rest by the aforementioned dock. As for the upper half of the display, the removal of the pill search tab left enough room for minimalist time, date, and weather widgets.
While the Pixel 2 series comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, there is also a possibility that both smartphones will take advantage of a longer three-year period of guaranteed software updates. With that in mind, the current user interface will likely continue to morph over the smartphone’s lifespan, so these new changes to the Pixel 2 launcher represent only a continuation of Google’s vision for a more streamlined UI. It remains to be seen if more OEMs will borrow this page from Google's playbook and introduce similar changes to their new and upcoming Android smartphones.