The S9 and S9 Plus were released recently and they are a fine bit of kit. They feel more solid than the S8 and S8 Plus for some reason, the low-light camera is insane, and that screen? Drool.
But what if you love the hardware but aren’t the biggest fan of the software or Samsung’s Experience UI (formerly TouchWiz UI). Now, I admit Samsung’s UI is way better than it used to be, but some people out there might want to use stock Android instead–no judgement, I get it. So in this tip and trick Tuesday, here’s how to make the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus look like stock Android.
Stock Launcher (Pixel Launcher)
Firstly, we need to change the launcher. If you’re not familiar, the launcher it basically the app that you use as your home screen. By changing it to another one (and there are a lot in the Play Store), you’ll make the biggest impact on your day to day use as anytime you hit home it opens this app and is where you’ll spend a lot of your time on your Galaxy S9.
So to get the most stock looking look, we’re going to go for the Pixel Launcher. Now, you can try and get it from the Play Store, but it will incorrectly tell you it doesn’t work for your device. So, instead, we need to download the apk (installer file) manually from another site and install it on our own.
- Go to Settings > Security > Turn on Unknown Sources.
- After that, we can grab the latest APK file from here by viewing this page on your phone and tapping the link below to start the download and save it to your device.
- Once that downloads, you can pull down the notification (or go to the MyFiles app on the phone) and tap the APK then tap install.
- After it installs, hit the home button and select the Pixel Launcher. This will also make it the new default launcher so anytime you hit the home button, you’ll end up with it.
Not gonna lie, looks pretty slick on the latest infinity display with those tiny bezels.
Next, one of the first things I change on my Android device no matter which it is, is the messaging app. I prefer the one from Google themselves as the OCD in me loves the ability to swipe away messages that I don’t need to see to have them come back when that person responds. Weird, sure, but whatever.
Regardless, if we’re going for the stock Android look, this is as stock as you can get for the messaging app, and it’s available in the Play Store so installation is super easy.
- Head to the Play Store and search for Android Messages.
- Install it (you’ll know it’s the right one because it’ll be from Google, Inc. as the developer.
- Open the app and follow the prompts for it to make itself your new default messaging app.
And to compliment that new messaging app why not the stock Android keyboard?
- Go to the Play Store and search for GBoard.
- Install it.
- Open the app and follow the prompts for setting it as the default app.
So. Much. Better.
So Chrome is usually pre-installed on your Galaxy device, but it isn’t set as the default browser (that is reserved for Samsung’s own “Internet” app). Since Chrome is the standard browser for stock Android, let’s change that.
- Your S9 or S9 Plus should already have Chrome on it, but if it didn’t for some reason, head to the Play Store, search for and install Chrome.
- Once it’s on your phone, head to Settings > Apps and tap the three dots in the top right corner and select Default Apps.
- Then tap on Browser app and select Chrome.
Dialer and Contacts
So there is no stock dialer and contacts app in the Play Store or on the web (that I could find), but there is a pretty good clone called ExDialer.
- Head to the Play Store again and search for and install exDialer.
- Once installed, head to Settings > Apps and tap the three dots in the top right corner and select Default Apps.
- Then tap on Calling app and select exDialer.
Next, let’s replace the calendar app with Google’s own version.
- Again, this should already be on your S9 or S9 Plus, but if for some reason it isn’t, head to the Play Store and install Google Calendar.
- Tap on it to open it and set it up.
- Once set up, head to Settings > Apps > tap on the Samsung Calendar (called Calendar but has the green icon compared to the blue one of Google Calendar).
- Tap Clear Defaults. This will remove the Samsung calendar as the app to handle events and next time something requires an event it’ll ask you which calendar to use, make sure to select the Google Calendar and that will then set that as the new default.
- Then also tap on More Options and turn off Notifications so you don’t get double notifications from events.
Living Universe Wallpapers
One of my favorite, albeit more subtle updates on the Pixel, is the new Living Universe Wallpapers. And, if we’re using the Pixel 2 as our new basis for stock, they’re a must have for your S9 or S9 Plus.
Head to the Play Store and download the Google Wallpapers app.
Now, these won’t be available in it by default but we need it installed to get them.
Next, head to this link here on XDA on your phone’s browser and download the apk file listed in the first post (do this on the phone to save the hassle of getting it to your phone from your computer).
Once, downloaded you can tap it and tap install.
After that, head to the Google Wallpapers app and you’ll see a section for Live Wallpapers, tap that and you’ll see the new Pixel ones in there. Tap one and tap set to set it as your home screen, lock screen or both.
You should be looking pretty darn stock at this point, but let me know in the comments below if you have other apps that might help complete the look–I’m sure others would appreciate it.
Otherwise, enjoy and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for behind the scenes of tech events in my Stories and photos of the latest tech I find in the feed. Thanks for reading!