Get Pixel 2 Features On Any Android

Get Pixel 2 Features On Any Android

The Google Pixel 2 is a fantastic smartphone by any measure. It’s got a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip, premium materials, and one of the best smartphone cameras around. But as it turns out, you don’t need to shell out for a new phone to get some of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL‘s best features.

So, wondering how to get Pixel 2 features on your phone, or how to spruce up an old phone with an enhanced camera app, always-on music ID, a new launcher, and more? You’ve come to the right place.

By Kyle Wiggers

How to Get the Google Pixel 2 Launcher on Any Phone

Android Go Pixel Launcher

Pixel Launcher

The Google Pixel 2’s launcher isn’t like the stock Android home screen. Near the bottom between the applications dock and software navigation keys, there’s an omnipresent, semi-transparent Google search bar with a prominent Google icon and rounded edges. (A cool feature worth noting: when you search for apps, you can drop their icons directly onto the home screen.) There’s a new animation for tapping and dragging app shortcuts around the launcher, and an iOS-like elastic scrolling effect when you reach the bottom or top of the All Apps list.


As with previous incarnations of the Pixel Launcher, apps you use frequently appear in a row at the top of the app drawer. And At A Glance, a new widget, shows the current weather (based on your location), upcoming calendar events, and traffic information right on the home screen.

Neat stuff, right? Luckily, thanks to the work of XDA Senior Member paphonb, it’s easy to get the Google Pixel 2 launcher up and running on any smartphone. Rootless Pixel Launcher, a splicing together of the Pixel 2 launcher and AOSP (Android Open Source Project) launcher, boasts a few of the Google Pixel 2 launcher’s best features — plus extras. It supports icon packs with calendar icons that change with the date, automatically uses round icons from Android 7.1 Nougat when available, and resizes the All Apps list when opening the keyboard, to name a few.

Here’s how to install Rootless Pixel Launcher:

  1. Head to the official Rootless Pixel Launcher Github page and download the latest APK file. You have two choices: an APK optimized for devices with less than 1GB of RAM (Launcher3-l3go-optimized.apk), or the standard version (Launcher3-aosp-optimized.apk). Functionally, they’re identical.

  2. Install the downloaded APK file by launching the Android Downloads manager on your phone and tapping on the newest item in the list.

  3. Follow the on-screen installation instructions. After the installation’s completed, you’ll be prompted to choose a default launcher; select Launcher3.

How to Get the Google Camera on Any Phone

pixel 2 bokeh tech

Portrait Mode on the Google Pixel 2. Source: Google

Another enviable Pixel 2 feature is the Google Camera, an AI-enhanced camera app with HDR+ (high dynamic range plus), which combines a burst shot of ten photos into a composite with enhanced brightness and contrast. Other noteworthy features include Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL), which minimizes the time difference between when the shutter button is clicked in the camera and when the picture is recorded; support for RAW, which gives you a greater degree of control over the colors of photos after they’ve been taken; slow motion 60FPS and 4K video recording; and electronic image stabilization (EIS).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. One of the Google Camera’s most impressive features is Portrait Mode, which selectively blurs the background of photos while simultaneously bringing the foreground into focus, an effect known as “bokeh”. It’s achieved with a machine learning algorithm that analyzes a composite of ten images to identify and isolate objects or people in photos, and a depth map created from combined imaging data of two sets of pixels.

Thanks to the hard work of XDA’s developer community, the Google Camera HDR+ port is available for a growing number of smartphones. Even better news: the port is a lot more customizable than the stock Google Pixel camera app, allowing you to tweak settings such as the HDR algorithm, burst photo settings, panorama resolution, and even the compression level of RAW images. The latest version is compatible with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/821 and Samsung Exynos chipsets, plus  phones with with wide-angle lenses such as the LG V30.

Note that the Google Pixel HDR+ port requires the Camera2 API, so it isn’t compatible with some devices — including the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Nokia 8, Xiaomi Mi A1, and Essential Phone.

Here’s how to get the Google Camera on any phone:

  1. Download the newest Google Camera HDR+ port from the XDA forums. If you have the LG G5, G6, V20, or V30, download the version with support for wide-angle lenses.

  2. Install the downloaded APK file by launching the Android Downloads manager on your phone and tapping on the newest item in the list.

  3. Follow the on-screen installation instructions.

If you find yourself a little overwhelmed by the Google Camera HDR+ port’s menu, check the forum thread for tips on getting started.

How to Get the Pixel 2’s Live Wallpapers on Any Phone

google now panel android one launcher

Google Pixel Launcher on the Pixel 2

The Pixel 2 ships with animated backgrounds called live wallpapers. One, an overhead shot of a beachfront in Lagos, Portugal, shows waves crashing on the shore; another taken in Monument Valley, Utah shows hot air balloons; and others show Mount Vesuvius and live images of Mars and the Moon.

There are also interactive wallpapers, including liquid-like goo that morphs and reshapes in response to taps and swipes (Gooey), abstract shapes that bounce around the edges of the screen (Glimmer), and a visual representation of wind patterns based on your location.

Here’s how to get the Pixel 2’s Live Wallpapers on any phone:

Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
  1. Install Google’s Wallpapers app from the Play Store.

  2. Once the app finishes installing, download Android developer Pranav Pandey’s port of the new live wallpapers.

  3. Head to your phone’s home screen. Press and hold anywhere on the launcher until a selection screen appears; tap Wallpapers. Scroll to the bottom of the list — you should see a new section labeled Live Wallpapers.

  4. Pick the wallpaper you want to use.

How to Get “Now Playing” On Any Phone


Ever hear an unfamiliar song on the radio and wish you could pull up the discography? The Pixel 2’s Now Playing, an ambient music ID feature akin to Spotify, Shazam, and Hound, does the hard work for you. It records audio samples with the phone’s microphones, comparing them to an offline, country-specific, regularly updated database of tens of thousands of songs. Thanks to nifty machine learning algorithms, it’s able to identify most songs in “just a few seconds,” according to Google.

Unfortunately, Now Playing relies on a lot of proprietary Google code, which makes porting it to other devices difficult. But there’s a way to replicate Now Playing by using Shazam, song-recognition app with a similar ambient listening feature.

Here’s how to get ambient music ID on any phone:

Shazam: Music Discovery
Developer: Apple Inc.
Price: Free
  1. Install Shazam from the Play Store.

  2. Launch Shazam, then tap and hold the Shazam icon in the middle of the screen to turn on the Auto Shazam feature, which continuously listens for songs in the background and when you put your phone to sleep.

  3. Tap Turn on from the pop-up message, and grant the app permission to record your phone’s audio.

  4. When Shazam identifies a song, you’ll get see an alert in Android’s notification shade.

How to Get the Google Lens on Any Phone

Get Google Lens in Google Photos Right Now

Google Lens

Google Lens, which was announced at Google I/O 2017, leverages artificial intelligence to identify landmarks, books, artwork, flowers, food, and knickknacks in photographs. But it’s more than just a visual search engine — for example, pointing Google Lens at a Wi-Fi label containing a network name and password will automatically connect your phone to the network. It’s other tricks include showing reviews and ratings for businesses and parsing flyers and documents for email addresses, phone numbers, and more.

During the technical preview of Google Lens, it was exclusive to Pixel smartphones. But it’s since been integrated into Google Photos, Google’s gallery and cloud storage app for Android devices.

Here’s how to get the Google Lens on any phone:

Google Photos
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
  1. Download Google Photos from the Play Store.

  2. Take a photo of anything and pull it up in Google Photos. Then tap on the Lens icon.

How to Get ARCore on Any Phone

ARCore for All


ARCore, Google’s augmented reality development platform for Android, is software-based; unlike Google’s ill-fated Project Tango, it doesn’t require special hardware or sensors to map the depth of surroundings and project digital objects onto real-world surfaces. It’s compatible with a growing range of devices, and uses a combination of motion tracking, flat surface detection, and light estimation to anchor virtual objects to vertical and horizontal planes.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were a couple of the first smartphones to support ARCore, but that didn’t stop developers from porting it to other devices. ARCore for All, an open source project, gets ARCore up and running on technically “unsupported” devices such as the OnePlus 3T.

  1. Download and install the ARCore for All APK file.

  2. Download and install the ARService from Google.

  3. If all goes according to plan, you should be able to use apps that require ARCore support.

About author

Kyle Wiggers
Kyle Wiggers

Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets or apps, he enjoys reading the New Yorker, tinkering with computers, and playing the occasional game of Rock Me Archimedes.

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