Some Pixel 2, Pixel 3 owners can't use their phones after installing December update

Some Pixel 2, Pixel 3 owners can't use their phones after installing December update
Yesterday, we told you that the Pixel line had received its monthly update. While there were several functional updates for the Pixel 2 through Pixel 4 models, the security update (for the last time) also included the OG Pixel series. And in typical Google fashion, following the update, some of the features that debuted on the Pixel 4 are now available for the 2017 and 2018 models including the Styles & wallpapers feature that allows you to customize your Pixel.

Meanwhile, the update created a problem for Pixel 3, Pixel 3a and some Pixel 2 users. According to several Reddit members (via Android Police), the update has caused the Pixel Launcher to crash on some of those units. One Redditor complained that as soon as he restarted his Pixel 3 XL after installing the December update, the Pixel Launcher crashed and the new navigation gestures were broken. Clearing the cache and data of the launcher had no effect although disabling the gestures and returning to three-button navigation helped a little.

It appears that those who sideloaded the Pixel 4 launcher on their earlier Pixel model are having a serious problem with their phones


Another Pixel 3 user found a way to uninstall the latest update and that seemed to do the trick. When the launcher crashes and the force close menu appears, open the app menu. Quickly tap on the three-dot menu at the top right of the screen to get the uninstall updates option. The problem is that the force close popup appears so quickly, you need to perform these actions faster than a speeding bullet. One Pixel 3 owner was about to perform hari-kari and factory reset his phone when he came upon the workaround and stopped it from crashing; that gentleman needs to purchase a lottery ticket immediately! Consider this post from another poor Rediitor: "Had the same issue on my Pixel 2 XL last night. Ended up factory resetting it.. ugh."

Interestingly, one of the new Pixel 4 features that Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a users now have on their handsets allow gesture controls to work with third-party launchers. And this came in handy for many whose Pixel Launcher started crashing after they installed the update; several noted that even with the Pixel Launcher crashing like a drunk driver, the Nova launcher now supports gesture navigation and they were able to get around their handset with it (assuming that they had the launcher installed on their phone prior to the release of yesterday's update).


One theory is that the units crashing had the launcher for the Pixel 4 sideloaded. This is not a good situation because with the launcher crashing constantly, those affected by the issue simply cannot use their phone. A Pixel 3 XL user had sideloaded the Pixel 4 launcher when the phone was released in October; following yesterday's update, he was forced to factory reset the device.

We aren't sure whether Google is aware of this issue, but we would expect this serious problem to be resolved with a future update. While Google often gets ripped for having to push out software updates to fix initial problems with the Pixels immediately after they are launched, that is not the problem here at all. Still, it will be up to Google to disseminate an update that will fix this issue. It seems that there is enough evidence to show that uninstalling the December update will end the hell that affected users are going through. We'd say that it's a good bet that those who ended up with the Pixel Launcher crashing on their phone will think twice before they sideload another APK.

We have asked Google to comment on this situation, and if they respond we will update this article so feel free to check-in at any time.

Related phones

Pixel 2
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Single camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
    4GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2700 mAh
  • OS Android 10
Pixel 2 XL
  • Display 6.0 inches
    2880 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Single camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
    4GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3520 mAh
  • OS Android 10

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