Shortly after the Pixel and Pixel XL were announced, it was said Google may not hooking Nexus users up with some of the same unique software features set to launch on those phones. For starters, Assistant wouldn’t be ready in the near future, though an eventual launch is expected.
More than that, though, are fingerprint swipe gestures and the night light feature which have just been confirmed to be Pixel-only. If you don’t know, night light attempts to remove much of the blue-laden light from your display to make it easier on your eyes at night, as blue illumination is believed to be a leading cause of insomnia. Fingerprint gesture allows you to use your fingerprint sensor as a navigation tool for scrolling through an app or page without having to touch the display.
The features are absent in Android 7.1’s developer previews for Nexus phones despite being on Pixel phones. This is largely due to hardware constraints as the Nexus phones don’t have the necessary technology to handle these features.
And that’s why Google is still considering Pixel to be separate from Nexus: the core Android experience will always be there, but these Pixel phones have a few things going on for them that are unique to their overall makeup. As Google intended, the phones are the perfect examples of hardware and software working in tandem and built 100% for each other.
Thankfully, not all hope is lost — you can still make your phone look and feel like a Pixel in some respects if you want to be with the in-crowd. GadgetHacks was able to put together a flashable .ZIP file that gives you the Pixel Experience. Here are some of the things included:
- Pixel Launcher
- Pixel Dialer
- New static wallpapers
- Boot animation
- UI sounds
You’ll notice that much of the list is cosmetic in nature, though the Pixel Launcher and Pixel Dialer — and the eventual launch of Assistant for other phones — should get you as close as you can get right now. It still won’t add features like Night Light and fingerprint gestures, but we’re hoping there’s a developer crafty enough to find a way to emulate these features.
There’s something else you should be aware of — this is only possible on rooted phones, and it should only be carried out on devices with software closer to stock AOSP, such as Nexus phones. Those with Samsung, HTC, and other phones with heavily customized versions of Android may still try, though its stability and safety are not guaranteed and not everything may work as intended.
How to get the Pixel Experience on any Android phone
If you want to try, follow these simple steps (Disclaimer: anything you do with your device beyond this point is your own responsibility):
- Download this .ZIP file onto your phone’s storage or somewhere that’s accessible from your custom recovery.
- Reboot your phone into your custom recovery.
- Make a backup of your current ROM.
- Use the Install function to apply the .ZIP file. Optional: You may wipe Dalvik cache to avoid any issues.
- Reboot the phone.
- Make the Pixel Launcher your default home screen.
And that should be it. You’ll find notifications, sounds, ringtones, and more in their respective locations for you to customize how you see fit. If this isn’t enough for you then it’s worth praying that some of Pixel’s more unique features are somehow ported over to your device of choice at some point down the line. Have fun!
PS: Want Google Assistant? The community has already been working on a port that seems to work perfectly fine on current Nexus devices. You can learn more about that right here.