Pixel Launcher in Android 11 tests new actions in recent apps overview, hiding individual app suggestions, and auto-folder naming
Google’s Pixel Launcher may not have as many features as third-party alternatives like Lawnchair, Nova Launcher, or Action Launcher, but its simplicity and clean design have earned it many fans. The launcher comes pre-installed on Google Pixel devices and only rarely receives updates. We generally see new features come to the launcher when Google releases a new Pixel device or major Android update, but the first Android 11 Developer Preview didn’t bring any new Pixel Launcher features with it. However, we know Google has been working on the launcher since we spotted hints at a new “hotseat” feature. Now, XDA Senior Member paphonb, one of the developers on the Lawnchair team and a veteran Pixel Launcher modder, has discovered several other new features that could be coming to Google’s launcher app.
Paphonb modified the latest Pixel Launcher build from the Android 11 Developer Preview in order to surface several in-development features. These features include new actions in the recent apps overview, the ability to hide individual app suggestions in the app drawer, and automatic naming of newly created folders.
New Actions in Recent Apps Overview
In Android 9 Pie, Google moved the code for the recent apps handler from SystemUI to Launcher3, which is the stock AOSP launcher. In the process, Google also introduced higher-quality recent app overview cards that scrolled horizontally, a service that allows the user to select text and images from overview cards (on Pixel devices only), and a service that surfaces a row of suggested apps underneath the overview card.
Now in Android 11, Google is testing replacing the app suggestion row in the recent apps overview with a set of 3 actions. These actions include “select,” “screenshot,” and “share.” The “select” button wasn’t functional for paphonb, but we can guess what it does. It likely highlights all text and images that can be selected in the overview card. As for the other two buttons, the screenshot button captures an image of the app that’s in focus, while the share button captures a screenshot then opens the share menu so you can quickly share it.
Hiding Individual App Suggestions
Google’s row of suggested apps is based on the recent apps that you have most frequently opened. While it’s possible to hide this row entirely by going to the Suggestions submenu in the Pixel Launcher settings, it isn’t possible to stop certain apps from showing up in this row. That could change soon, however. Paphonb shared a screenshot showing a new “don’t suggest app” action when long-pressing the icon of any app in the suggested app row. This action currently doesn’t work, but it’s clear what it would do.
Automatically Naming Folders
The Pixel Launcher may soon be able to automatically provide a name for newly created folders that you make by dragging and dropping one app icon onto another. Currently, you can manually name folders by tapping on the “unnamed” text at the bottom of the folder, but Google may save you a bit of effort by detecting what kind of apps you’re grouping together. For example, in the video below, paphonb demonstrated the Pixel Launcher automatically naming a newly created folder “Communication” when he grouped Messages and Gmail together. He also showed it naming a newly created folder as “Social” when he put Telegram and Facebook together.
We don’t know exactly how the Pixel Launcher is determining what kind of applications the user has grouped together, but it’s likely that Google is using a long list of names and types of the most popular apps on the Play Store.
These features are not yet available for users in the latest Pixel Launcher release, and it’s possible that Google may never release them. You can look forward to features like these in modified versions of Google’s launcher, though. If Google does decide to enable any of these features in a future update, we’ll let you know. You can follow our latest posts on the Android 11 release through the following link:
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