For many of us Android enthusiasts, the alluring factor of devices such as OnePlus' offerings and the Google Pixels is the "stock" Android experience; the pure, unbridled features of AOSP. Then again, sometimes you'd rather have Samsung's hardware and are willing to sacrifice the software experience for it. But what if those sacrifices weren't necessary?
Well, with the help of a couple of apps and some time, you can replicate the stock Android experience on your Samsung phone without needing to root.
Step 1: Install Lawnchair
First, we'll start with Lawnchair; a cleverly named Pixel-style launcher that's available for free on the Play Store. We included this launcher in our roundup of the best Android launchers right now, and for good reason; it packs several useful features that help to complete the experience, such as Google Now pane integration, a dark theme useful for OLED displays, and Android Oreo features, such as the dot-shaped notification indicators.
To customize Lawnchair once you have it installed, you simply long-press on the home screen and then tap the "Settings" icon in the bottom right-hand corner. There's a lot of customisation available, so I won't go over it all but here's a glimpse of what you can do:
Theme -> Black (enables an OLED friendly dark mode in the app settings and app drawer)
Desktop - > Notification Badges (Notification access must be enabled)
Theme -> Change icon shape to circle
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Lawnchair also supports custom icon packs if you like that kind of thing.
Once you have it configured as you want it, you have tofollow a couple of additional features to enable the Google Feed (previously Google Now) on your device.
Step 2: Enabling Google Feed
First, download the Lawnfeed APK from APKMirror, and install it. Ensure you have "Unknown Sources" allowed in the Security section of your settings app.
Secondly, once it's installed, go back to Lawnchair settings, then Behavior, and toggle the "Show Google Now Page" option.
Sometimes the Google Now Pane won't show at first, so while you're still in Lawnchair settings, go to Debug, and tap "Restart Lawnchair," and then once you swipe to the left on your home screen. And that's it; you should now have a Google Now pane.
With that, you should have a Pixel-style home screen available to you. But wait! There's more. You can also get the Pixel-style navigation bar, with the help of Substratum Theme Engine.
Step 3: Get the Pixel Navigation Bar, using Substratum
Once it's installed, open the app, and it should detect that you are using a Samsung device. It will ask you to install the Samsung compatibility add-on for $1.99 USD. While you may be opposed to IAPs, this add-on is necessary to ensure compatibility with Samsung devices; otherwise, Substratum will fail to work. And c'mon. It costs just as much as a cup of coffee. It's worth it.
If it fails to download, you can try installing the add-on directly from the Play Store as well.
Now you're ready to roll with Substratum. To get the navigation and status bar theme, you must download an additional theme package from the Play Store as well.
Once it's installed, tap on the theme in Substratum, and apply all overlays. Restart your phone so that everything takes effect and works properly.
Once you're sure Substratum is working and your phone has rebooted, go to your device's Settings app, go to Display -> Navigation Bar, and then under "Background colour," tap the black circle; that will make your navigation bar fully black at all times. If you want the button arrangement of the Pixel, I recommend also changing the button layout (also within Display settings) to "Back - Home - Recents."
After all that, you should be left with a Samsung device that looks and functions close to a Google Pixel. It's a great compromise between the hardware of Samsung and the look and feel of Google's vision of Android. What do you think of all this? Did you make your Samsung device look like a Pixel? Let us know in the comments section below!