How to get the best Google Pixel graphics on your smartphone

Android Nougat is already walking amongst us – at least for people who use a compatible device. Unfortunately loads of users of even relatively modern phones haven’t gotten the update to version 7.0, meaning the only way to get some of the new features is by installing external apps or using other tricks. (Or installing unofficial ROMs, but that’s another story.) In the meantime, here’s a summary of everything you can install on your device to make it look like Google Pixel, with the best graphics from Android Nougat (which they say are something like the Second Coming in terms of excitingness).

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Pixel Launcher

A good launcher never hurt anybody, especially if it gives a nice facelift to certain parts of the Android interface. You can install it on any device running Android 5.0 or higher. It lets you enjoy a new app box that rolls out with a vertical swipe, as well as round folders, a new button to open Google search, and an integrated date widget on the home screen. That said, other features, like holding down on icons to display context options, are reserved for users of the latest version of the operating system.

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Once you install the launcher, go to Settings > Start (or, depending on the customization layer you use, hold down on your homescreen) to change your default launcher.

Wallpaper Picker

This isn’t actually a standalone app. It adds an interesting, Google-managed wallpaper service that lets you remotely download themed wallpapers and auto-rotate them every 24 hours. Depending on which version of Android you use, you can also access special backgrounds with provocative features like a sun that sets as your battery wears down, or a real-time satellite view of Planet Earth.

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Pixel Dialer

Little by little Google is updating its array of first-party apps with new features to make sense of the generational shift they’re selling at the moment. One of the most basic apps that we tend to pay the least attention to on our phones is Google’s phone dialer. If you have Marshmallow you can install this new version that does the same thing, but is prettier.

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Freeform window support

In this case we’re talking about a latent feature for Android Nougat that still hasn’t been officially rolled out. It lets you use several apps at the same time in freeform window mode and in real time. For now we’re using a third-party app, but it’s still completely reliable. To proceed you have to do a series of steps as discussed in our recent blogpost. The only (and obvious) requirement is that you have Android 7.0 on your device. In this case you have no other choice.

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  • First activate the Developer Options on your device. To do so go to Settings > About phone and tap Build number several times to display the hidden options.
  • Now head to the new section Settings > Developer options > Force windows to be resizable.
  • Restart your device and run the Taskbar app. Inside it you’ll enable an option called Freeform Windows. You can turn the feature itself on and off using the switch up top.
  • Now you’ll finally get a new button at the bottom left of your screen. When you tap it a submenu pops up with all your installed apps. To run them in Freeform windows you’ll need to open them from there, not anywhere else.
  • You might need to open the menu a couple times for everything to work right. The way to see if Taskbar is running properly is by checking that if you open the menu, the icons you have on your home screen disappear.

[ssba]