A new YouTube video has surfaced by ways of user Cristian Ruiz, an attendee of Google’s event yesterday. In the video, Ruiz demos something lots may have forgotten about when learning about and testing the new Pixel phones: Launcher Shortcuts.

A while back in one of the Android N developer previews, Google had programmed Launcher Shortcuts into the build and allowed them to be accessed by anyone. The developers behind Nova Launcher teamed up with Phandroid to activate this feature, and unsurprisingly, it worked out great. By simply long pressing on an app icon, you can bring up various shortcuts for interaction with the selected app without having to jump all the way into the software. It’s best to describe Launcher Shortcuts as Google’s more widely available version of 3D Touch on the iPhone. However, in a future build of Android N (before it became Nougat and was released to the public), the company removed the feature and left us all wondering whether these quick actions would ever make it to Android again.

Thankfully, with Android 7.1 Nougat, Google will be bringing back Launcher Shortcuts, however it’s been unclear just how they’d go about it and who would get it. Of course, we all assumed the new Pixel phones would certainly get these new quick actions, but we didn’t know 100%. But now, thanks to the below video, we’re now aware that Google has implemented Launcher Shortcuts into the Pixel Launcher which will exclusively launch on the company’s latest handsets. And to little surprise, they look pretty sweet.

As you can see in this video, a variety of icons can be long-pressed to bring up Launcher Shortcuts. The first app Ruiz tests out is Maps which brings up two destinations for navigating to: Home and Work. Presumably, when tapping on one of these options, you’ll be directed to one of these locations the user sets. It’s unclear as of now whether more options can be added to this list automatically or manually, but for now it appears only two shortcuts will be present.

A second app Ruiz tries is Calendar. When long pressing on this icon, you’ll be greeted with an option to create a new event and another to create and set a new reminder. Both of these functions are used very frequently be many users, so I’m sure plenty will use this function. (It’s worth noting that Calendar’s shortcuts were accessed while inside the app drawer, giving us confirmation that Launcher Shortcuts are accessible not only via the home screen but app drawer as well.)

Interestingly, as demoed with the Maps app, you can actually drag and drop Launcher Shortcuts that appear after a long press of an app’s icon to your home screen. Why this is so is beyond me as it practically eliminates the need for a long press, but my personal guess would be that some people want to access this added functionality a bit faster and not wait for a long press to execute. Of course, this could change before Android 7.1 hits airwaves and makes it’s way to other devices, but as of now it looks like there’ll be two ways to access Launcher Shortcuts.

While we’ll no doubt have to wait for the Pixel phones to launch in order to learn more about this new functionality, at least we have a little sneak preview for the time being. It’s worth noting that as of now, you can get a certain version of Launcher Shortcuts in Chris Lacey’s Action Launcher 3 which is available as a free download on the Play Store. By no means are they perfect, but they get the job done for what they’re worth.


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