How to try out the software that comes with Nothing smartphones

Ever since Nothing began life in 2020, its movements have been closely followed. 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 earphones were generally well received, but it always felt as if a smartphone was the product Nothing built towards. It became a reality with the official announcement of the Phone (1), which is scheduled to come this summer.

There are lots of questions about the device’s hardware, but nothing already gives 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 Nothing launcher?

Nothing may have released the beta version of its Android launcher in the Google Play Store, but you will not be able to download it on most devices. The company has confirmed this 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 “apparently coming soon”. This will probably also be limited to the latest flagships.

How to install Nothing Launcher

Trying Nothing Launcher is 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 to Samsung phones:

  1. Open the Google Play Store and search for ‘nothing launcher’ – or just click here
  2. Tap on the relevant result, then select ‘Install’
  3. Once installed, open Settings> Apps> Default apps> Home app
  4. Press ‘Nothing Launcher’ to switch
  1. No launcher installation

Go back to the home screen and you will see Nothing Launcher running now. If you prefer the video format tutorial, the first 26 seconds of the clip below will show you how to do it:

How to go back to your own launcher

Trying Nothing Launcher does not commit you to anything – on the contrary. It couldn’t be easier to switch back to your usual launcher (or something else):

  1. Open Settings again and go back to Apps> Default apps
  2. Within ‘Default home app’, tap your usual launcher – if you have not changed launcher before, there should be only one to choose from
  3. Go back to the home screen and everything will be restored to normal

How’s Nothing Launcher?

As Carl Pei teased when he announced the phone (1), Notting’s launcher looks completely different from the traditional Google or Samsung software experience.

The futuristic design includes a new wallpaper along with a choice of three widgets that offer two styles of clock (analog or digital) and weather, all in the distinct Nothing aesthetic.

There are also additional wallpapers and ringtones available, even if they are not packed with Launcher – you can download them from a Dropbox folder.

No launcher design

As you can see from the screenshots above, it is possible to increase the size of app icons and folders on the home screen. You can also select a custom icon pack after downloading it from the Play Store – this is a feature you will not find on the Pixel launcher.

But the current iteration of Nothing Launcher also has some notable shortcomings. Android 12’s “Material You” design is only used in some areas, and the launcher limits you to a single home screen – so you can not set multiple apps on another screen on the right, and there is no Google Discover feed on the left.

Nothing encourages early adopters to submit feedback via Discord. Hopefully the version that comes with the phone (1) this summer will have more features worth talking about.