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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to Install Dirty Unicorns on Your Pixel and Get Custom ROM Capabilities Without Losing Motion Sense and Active Edge «Android :: Gadget Hacks

How to Install Dirty Unicorns on Your Pixel and Get Custom ROM Capabilities Without Losing Motion Sense and Active Edge «Android :: Gadget Hacks



If you’ve worked with custom ROMs before, you probably know the name Dirty Unicorns pretty well. It’s synonymous with unique features and great improvements compared to inventory. Recently, Dirty Unicorns made a big comeback with some nice features for Android 10.

Usually, when you install a custom ROM based on the official AOSP source, you lose all of the device-specific functionality that you can find in a standard ROM. If the developer didn’t have direct access to these system functions, you’d be missing out on them for good. Dirty Unicorns has some of these exclusive Pixel features that will enhance your custom ROM experience. So let̵

7;s dive in to learn more about them.

Supported devices

  • Google Pixel XL
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
  • Google Pixel 3
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 4a

Step 1: Install or boot TWRP on your Pixel

Before you can install this gem of a custom ROM on your Pixel, you need to make sure you have access to the TWRP custom recovery. If needed, we have some TWRP installation guides for the Pixel devices listed below.

Step 2: Download the Dirty Unicorns Custom ROM

Once you have TWRP installed on your Pixel, you can download the custom core ROM file from one of the links below that will match your specific device. By default, the file should be saved in the Download folder on your device. However, you can put them in this folder for easy access if you need to.

Image via dirtyunicorns.com

Step 3: back up your data (optional)

Before installing the custom Dirty Unicorns ROM, you may want to make a backup of your device because you will need to perform a data erasing operation. Launch the main TWRP menu on your Pixel, tap Back Up, select the partitions you want to back up, then swipe the slider to begin backing up your device. When you’re done, tap the Home button to return to the main menu.

Step 4: wipe your device down for a fresh start

After your data is safe, tap “Erase” in the main menu and then swipe the slider to confirm the factory reset. When you’re done, tap the Home button to return to the main menu. Erasing your data and restarting will ensure that your ROM user experience is as smooth and flawless as possible.

Whenever you switch from a standard ROM to a custom AOSP ROM, be sure to perform a data erase operation. If you forget to do this, it can result in an endless boot loop. So keep that in mind.

Step 5: Install the Dirty Unicorns Custom ROM

Go back to the TWRP main menu to “Install” and find the Dirty Unicorns custom ROM installation file. As a reminder, it should probably be in the Download folder by default when you downloaded the file to your phone. Tap the installation file once, then swipe the slider to start the installation on your device.

After the ROM installation is complete, you can tap the “Restart” button and then click the “System” option. When you do this, your device will boot back into Android to the main splash screen. Hit the “Start” button and perform the initial setup like you would normally do any other day. After that, you can dive right into the Dirty Unicorns custom ROM on your Pixel!

Custom ROM features for dirty unicorns

Now that your Pixel is running the custom Dirty Unicorns ROM, it’s fun exploring all of its unique features. To get started, you should be on your way Settings -> Dirty Tweaks. Most of the Dirty Unicorns custom features are located here for easy access.

1. System tweaks

In this section you can, for example, change the clock style on your lock screen, customize the options for the long press of the power menu, or even turn off the animation of the screen. Note that you can also view media art for your music on the lock screen. This is something that is likely to go away with the Android 11 update to standard Pixel ROMs.

If you have a lot of booting into TWRP, I would recommend enabling the “Advanced Reboot” option in the “Power Menu” section. Then, long-press the power button, tap “Advanced”, then tap “Recovery”. Without a doubt, this is the most convenient way to start TWRP on your Pixel. The same applies to the boot loader option in fastboot mode.

2. Status bar optimizations

Here you can, for example, change the icon for the battery style, change the settings for the status bar clock or even turn off the annoying notification icons for the status bar. There are also many improvements to the Quick Settings pull-down menu to create a setup that suits your needs.

3. Navigation changes

You have a variety of really cool features here, mostly related to your navigation type and gestures, such as: B. hiding the navigation bar. You can even bring up your flashlight with the screen off by long-pressing the power button. Another standout feature allows you to add a long swipe action to your gesture navigation back arrow. Here you can easily set any desired action!

If you like music, you may notice the Pulse option. You can add a graphic visualizer to the bottom of the screen that will react to your music. You’ve made a lot of visual enhancements to find a visualizer that best suits your needs. It’s a feature that isn’t normally built into the system itself. So this is fun.

4. Active Edge & Motion Sense (exclusive)

Are you familiar with the exclusive pixel features I mentioned earlier? The Multitasking tab currently has two of these functions. Active Edge is the squeeze function that all pixels had from the start. However, in this version, you can set the squeeze actions to anything you want. So many possibilities!

If you have a Pixel 4, you’ll have access to the Motion Sense option which has long been one of my favorite pixel features. I can’t live without some specific Pixel 4 motion detection features like Idle Lock Screen and Wake Up Display. Dirty Unicorns is even better when you have exclusive access to the Pixel 4’s motion-sensing extras.

5. Custom themes

It wouldn’t be an epic custom ROM without the ability to create your own custom themes, would it? You can find this section under Settings -> Themes. You can optimize the system accent colors, choose from different fonts, choose your icon shapes and icon colors in the status bar.

If you get down to the system theme, you have a multitude of options here, including a pitch black option – it’s good for your eyes and battery life, too. You can also schedule when a specific topic is active to aid automation. Once you’ve got everything set up, you can save your theme settings so you don’t have to worry about losing anything.

6. ROM update notifications

One of the few downsides to running a custom ROM is having to update it when a new version comes out. In general, you’ll need to check the thread or website that you got your ROM from for any updates. Fortunately, Dirty Unicorns has a built-in notifier so you can get the update notifications in real time.

To access this feature, go to Settings -> Apps & Notifications -> Advanced -> Update Notifications. Press “OK” to confirm the data collection notice. After that, the option should be activated automatically. Done! You will be notified when Dirty Unicorns has an update available for your device.

7. ROM update changelog

If you’re like me, you’ll be happy to learn about all of the fixes, changes, and additions the developers have included in their latest update. However, not all custom ROM developers have a change log built right into their system settings. If you want to see what’s new for the latest Dirty Unicorns update, go to Settings -> About Phone -> Change Log. The little things, right?

Now that you have a basic overview of the Dirty Unicorns custom ROM on your Pixel, it’s time to create your own experience. You can restore the device backup that you may have previously created in TWRP. If you’d like to combine Magisk with the Dirty Unicorns custom ROM for root access, check out one of our Pixel guides below for more information.

You can already do a lot of great things with this custom ROM by default, but adding Magisk to the mix would make things even more epic. If you have any questions about the Dirty Unicorns Custom ROM in general, please let me know. The Android 11 Dirty Unicorns update is probably not far away either. So expect to see more updates soon. Have fun out there!

Conclusion

An earlier version of this article incorrectly linked Dirty Unicorns to AOKP because of their partly shared history.

The Dirty Unicorns Custom ROM is Not the same as the original unicorn-based AOKP from back then. Just as CyanogenMod was open source, AOKP allowed anyone to create their own custom ROM. You can pull up the source code from the AOKP repository and create your own “Kang” version of the ROM with whatever Cherry picks you want – if you know how to do that.

In short, Dirty Unicorns started out about a decade ago as the “Kang” project of AOKP, but has grown into a unique branch with healthy community support. They’ve been around since AOKP started and they still make some of the coolest ROMs I’ve seen lately. Not to mention, we still get a lot of unique features today, especially on the Pixel devices.

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Cover image and screenshots by Stephen Perkins / Gadget Hacks

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