Ever since Nothing began life in 2020, its movements have been closely tracked. The UK-based company was founded by Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus, and released its first product last year – the Ear (1).
These affordable earbuds were generally well received, but it always felt like a smartphone was the product Nothing was building towards. That became a reality with the official announcement of the Phone (1), which is scheduled to arrive this summer.
Plenty of questions surround the device’s hardware, but Nothing is already giving us a taste of the software experience. A beta of its Android launcher is now available, and you can try it out if you have a compatible device. Here’s everything you need to know.
Is my phone compatible with the Nothing launcher?
Nothing might have released the beta of its Android launcher on the Google Play Store, but you won’t be able to download it on most devices. The company has confirmed it only works on the following phones:
Samsung Galaxy S22
Samsung Galaxy S22+
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21
Samsung Galaxy S21+
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Google Pixel 6
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Google Pixel 5a
Google Pixel 5
Support for OnePlus phones is apparently “coming soon”. This is also likely to be limited to recent flagships though.
How to install the Nothing Launcher
Trying out the Nothing Launcher is just as simple as switching to any other Android launcher. We’ve installed it on a Pixel 5 running Android 12, but the process is very similar on Samsung phones:
Open the Google Play Store and search for ‘nothing launcher’ – or just click here
Tap the relevant result, then choose ‘Install’
Once installed, open Settings > Apps > Default apps > Home app
Tap on ‘Nothing Launcher’ to switch
Head back to the home screen and you’ll see the Nothing Launcher is now running. If you’d prefer the tutorial in video format, the first 26 seconds of the clip below shows you how it’s done:
Watch how to install Nothing Launcher (Beta) and give feedback on Discord. pic.twitter.com/beq1W3G2vo
— Nothing (@nothing)
April 28, 2022
How to go back to your own launcher
Trying the Nothing Launcher doesn’t commit you to anything – quite the opposite. It couldn’t be easier to switch back to your usual launcher (or something else):
Open Settings again and go back to Apps > Default apps
Within ‘Default home app’, tap on your usual launcher – if you haven’t changed launchers before, there should only be one to choose from
Head back to the home screen and everything will be restored to normal
What’s the Nothing Launcher like?
As Carl Pei teased when announcing the Phone (1), Nothing’s launcher looks quite different to the traditional Google or Samsung software experience.
The futuristic design includes a new wallpaper along with a choice of three widgets, offering two styles of clock (analogue or digital) and the weather, all in the distinct Nothing aesthetic.
There are further wallpapers and ringtones available too, though they’re not packaged with the Launcher – you can download them from a Dropbox folder.
As you can see from the screenshots above, it’s possible to increase the size of app icons and folders on the home screen. You can also choose a custom icon pack after downloading it from the Play Store – that’s a feature you won’t find on the Pixel launcher.
But the current iteration of the Nothing Launcher also has some notable shortcomings. Android 12’s ‘Material You’ design is only applied in some areas, and the launcher limits you to a single home screen – so you can’t set more apps on a second screen to the right, and there’s no Google Discover feed to the left.
Nothing is encouraging early adopters to submit feedback via Discord. Hopefully the version that ships with the Phone (1) this summer will have more features worth talking about.