Hands-on with Lawnchair v2, a customizable Pixel Launcher
Lawnchair is a launcher based on Google’s Pixel Launcher that adds man more customization options. You can change almost everything starting from the icon pack to the app drawer. While it’s been in works since June of 2017, the first stable version was just released. Users are already looking forward to version 2 and we’re lucky enough to test an alpha build (download below). I’m about to break down every feature Lawnchair v2 has to offer. I’ll dive into the sections of the launcher settings and talk about all the new features and options.
In the Theme category, you can change the shape of the home screen icons. Available options are square, rounded square, squircle, circle, and teardrop. This is the feature that a lot of the launchers added after Android 8.0 introduced Adaptive Icons. You can see square and squircle variants below. Shame on Spotify, Instagram, and Enpass for not adopting adaptive icons yet.
The next option is icon packs. This is a feature that pretty much all 3rd-party launchers have, but it’s not something you’ll find in the Pixel Launcher.
You can change the launcher’s color scheme to light or dark at any time. The “Auto” option changes the theme based on your wallpaper, but you can still select it manually. Currently, changing the color scheme only applies to launcher settings, application drawer, and Google Feed. You can see how Dark with OLED black theme looks below.
The next option, “Blur,” applies a blur to the dock, the drawer, and launcher settings. You can even adjust the percentage manually. This feature is currently buggy, but keep in mind that this is the first alpha of the version 2. Everything will be sorted out eventually and I’ve already reported this bug to the creator of Lawnchair. Nevertheless, here’s how it looks:
This is where the fun begins. You’ll see a lot of toggles in this category. Most of them are additional, while some of them are enabled by default. The first one you’ll see is the “At a Glance” feature, which is enabled by default. Additionally, you can add time and date to the widget by toggling the options just below. Notice the difference in the widget before and after toggling those options. Weather is not supported at this time.
Next option toggles the Google Feed (formerly Google Now Cards). Many users are upset that the Feed isn’t as informative as it was before. If you’re one of them, you can get Google Feed out of your sight by toggling this option off.
Next option lets you enable notification dots, first introduced in Android Oreo. You need to give the app notification access first, of course. You’ll see the full notification by holding an app’s icon.
Other features in this category contain adding icons for newly installed apps to the home screen automatically, changing grid and icon sizes, and enabling full-width widgets. All of them are self-explanatory.
You can also change the style of the dock. The available options are Rounded, Gradient, Flat, and Transparent, but Gradient doesn’t seem to work, at least on Android P. The Rounded dock adds a slight shadow effect. Also, notice the blur we added earlier.
Enabling colored Google icon and arrow indicator is just a tap away. You can also add up to 9 apps in the dock.
This category doesn’t contain anything extraordinary or super customizable. Here you can enable app suggestions and Google search, also hide apps and their labels from the app drawer. That’s it. Oh, you can also set a custom opacity for the drawer, but this feature is buggy at the moment.
There is also a “Backup” category that lets you backup and restore your settings, while the “About” category gives you an info about Lawnchair and its developers.
I personally think that Lawnchair is one of the best launchers available, simply because I love the stock Android experience. Rootless Pixel Launcher is also a good option, but it lacks all of the extra features and customization tools. I recommend all of you try the first stable version. Version 2 is currently in an alpha state, but the public beta will be available in 2 weeks. If you want to be on the bleeding-edge, download Version 2 below.