We’ve heard that the Pixel Launcher (formerly Nexus Launcher) would bring some significant changes, but we’ve heard little on this front — that is, until today. Now, we’re getting some idea of what to expect from the upcoming Pixel Launcher. First, the new launcher will have Google 3D Touch functions akin to what one is familiar with on the iPhone 6s Plus. Next, the Pixel Launcher will be characterized by rounded icons that, up until now, have been an optional choice within Android.
The Google 3D Touch functions will allow you to tap on an icon and get additional options for that app. For example, you could touch the Google Play Store app icon and get a few settings such as “update apps,” for example, or “search apps” to find something to purchase or download. Touching the Google Camera app may bring up a function like “record video” and “use camera,” separating these functions that are often buried together in the camera app. We can only imagine Google will bring this new functionality to its Allo and Duo apps that will most likely make it into the Pixel Launcher on the new Pixel phones.
The new Google 3D Touch functions will be supplemented by rounded icons in the Pixel Launcher. Currently, you can choose to have basic apps without rounded icons or with rounded icons. Well, this is an optional feature on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, for example, but rounded icons will become the face of the new Pixel Launcher when Google announces its existence.
We’re not surprised to see Google 3D Touch functions come to the Pixel Launcher. Google has often attempted to imitate Apple (if not its toughest enemy, then Samsung) when it comes to build quality. The HTC Nexus 9 was made of metal, and last year’s Huawei Nexus 6P was made of metal, too, a build quality that has characterized the lineup since the iPhone 5. Now, we’ve heard as of late that the new Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL phones will have iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus prices out the gate — a move that suggests Google is more concerned with the high-end market than the low-end. Of course, the company intends to give financing options, but it’s a move that will not please Nexus users who picked up the Nexus 6P last year at $499. $499 will seem like a value buy now as compared to the $650 minimum price tag for the Google Pixel ($750+ for the 5.5-inch, Pixel XL model that comes with the Quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, etc).
Google’s employment of HTC to manufacture these new phones is also a dead giveaway that the search engine giant wants to take on its Cupertino rival in the smartphone space. Everyone knows that the iPhone-like design in Android comes from the Taiwanese phone maker HTC, whom Apple has drawn inspiration from (and vice versa) at times. Some say that Google has employed HTC to manufacture these phones because of its declining financial situation with its latest flagship, but I beg to differ. If that were the case, there’d be no reason to utilize HTC because you can’t win consumers over to a brand that isn’t selling. What Google is aiming for is an “Android-inspired” iPhone with similar functionality that one would find in iOS.
I hope Google fares well in its endeavor, but I think that, in a market in which Samsung is winning, I hope Google spends more time imitating Samsung in this space than its Cupertino rival.