I'm a big fan of Android Lollipop. Much of what Google did to Android in that 5.x upgrade was a vast improvement. There is, however, one area that improvement didn't seem to grace... the app drawer. What I miss the most about earlier incarnations of this feature (or from third-party launchers like Nova Launcher) is the ability to quickly search a very long list of installed apps. When Lollipop came around, the app drawer became a very stagnant, listless tool.
That's about to change.
With Android 6.0 (aka Marshmallow), the app drawer is going back to its former glory with the return of the search function. In fact, you don't have to wait.
That's right. It's now possible to get the Marshmallow app drawer in Lollipop. It's not difficult, but you do have to install it from a third-party source. For those concerned about installing malware from said third-party source, I've scanned the file with Malwarebytes and AVG Mobile, and it's a clean file. Do note, however, that this is only a preview of what is to come. The design has already changed slightly (from the usable preview that's available), but the functionality remains intact.
With that said, let's install the Marshmallow app drawer.
There are only two prerequisites for upgrading the app drawer. The first is that you have to have Lollipop, and it must have the most recent Google Now Launcher. If you have Lollipop, open the Google Play Store, swipe right (from the left edge of the screen), tap My Apps, and then (to be safe) tap Update All. If you don't want to update everything, simply locate Google Now Launcher and tap to update.
The second thing you must do is enable the installation from unknown sources. To do this, go to Settings | Security and tap to enable Unknown sources (Figure A).
Enabling Unknown sources on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6.
Once you tap this entry, you'll have to tap OK to enable the setting.
You're now ready to install it. Here are the steps:
- On your device, download the velvet-google-search.apk file from here
- Pull down the notification bar (when the download is complete) and tap the entry (Figure B)
- Tap the entry for Velvet-Google-Search.apk in the downloads listing
- When prompted, tap INSTALL
- Allow the installation to complete
Getting ready to install the Marshmallow app drawer.
At this point, you should see the Marshmallow app drawer, which is a far cry from the Lollipop iteration (Figure C).
The app drawer in action.
This is the Android Marshmallow Preview 1 of the app drawer. In preview 2 (there's no apk currently available), the developers have removed the negative space and the alphabetical dividers. Although the final look will vary, the search function will remain.
To search your app drawer, tap the search bar at the top (which is the main reason you'll want to install this feature), and search for the app you want to launch.
The only thing missing from the app drawer now is the ability to tweak its settings. I'd like to see Google add a Settings feature to the app drawer so we could tweak things like background, edit favorites, etc.
What would you change in the stock Android app drawer? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.