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Google quietly adds iOS-like feature to Android 12 Pixel launcher

If you've ever found yourself installing a ton of apps at once, this will be useful.
By
February 15, 2022
Google Pixel Android Install Icon
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google Pixel phones suddenly have a new Android 12 install icons feature.
  • Borrowed from iOS, the feature gives visual indications of install statuses for apps on the home screen.
  • The subtle visual tweak could be part of Google’s “play as you download” feature.

Famously, iPhones don’t have app drawers. When you download an app from the Apple App Store, an icon heads directly to your home screen or the “Recently Added” folder there. Meanwhile, the new app’s store icon visually changes as it goes through the install process.

Android phones, though, have app drawers, so users need to elect to have apps appear on the home screen when downloaded. If you have this feature turned on for your Pixel phone, you might have noticed some subtle tweaks to how it works. Google quietly pushed out a new Android 12 install icons signifier that gives you a visual indication of an app’s install process.

Related: The best icon packs for Android

Interestingly, this feature is “borrowed” from iOS. Although it doesn’t work exactly the same, it tells you when an app is downloading and gives a circular progress bar to show its progress. It then does the same for the installation procedure before finally setting the icon in its spot on your home screen. It’s very similar to the App Store’s process.

You can see the various stages in our screenshots below.

New Android 12 install icons on home screen

If you want to see this in motion, you can check out this tweet from Artem Russakovskii.

So what’s going on with this new Android 12 install icons signifier? According to Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, this could be part of Google’s “play as you download” feature. This feature gives you the ability to start playing a game before it completely finishes downloading. This is helpful when the game you’re downloading has a large file size and you are on a slow connection.

A phone’s launcher would need to tap into this feature to show the progress circle shown in the screenshots above. If Rahman is correct, the Pixel launcher now does that on Android 12. If that’s true, it would be up to OEMs and third-party launcher apps to do the same if they want this feature onboard.

However, it’s also possible Rahman is mistaken and this is something else. This new Android 12 install icons signifier works for non-game apps and you can’t open the app/game while it’s downloading. So it could be something else unrelated to “play as you download” even if it looks similar.

Either way, this is an interesting new feature and could be helpful for folks installing a lot of apps all at once.