The option to hit enter to directly launch an app from search is rolling out again
Not too long ago, it was possible to use the Pixel Launcher to open apps right from the app drawer search by hitting the enter button, with no need to stretch your thumb to the top of the results to select the first result. This option was taken away with Android 13, but it’s now bound to make a return via a server-side update after previously making an appearance in a beta build.
Once the update hits your phone, you’ll see that the first app result in search is highlighted with an oval background, which indicates that you can tap enter rather than the result itself to jump right into it. As 9to5Google spotted, the so-called Quick Launch feature is rolling out as a server-side update to a few people. So far, the publication was only able to see it on the latest stable release of Android 13 with the May security update, but the feature is not necessarily limited to this version of the OS only.
The feature was originally present in earlier versions of the Pixel Launcher, but Google took it away when it unified search across the search bar on the home screen and within the app drawer that shows up when you swipe up. Previously, it was possible to use this quick launch feature in the app drawer search, but not in the home screen search. The new capability was originally spotted in Android 13 QPR2 before it went stable, where it was possible to activate it using ADB commands.
With this both new and old feature, Google is making the Pixels just a tad easier to use again, all while making the Pixels behave a little more like the iPhone. Apple has long supported a similar quick launch gesture on its home screen. If you have another Android phone, you can replicate this same quick launch gesture using the third-party app Pixel Search.