Google Now Launcher Available in the Play Store

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 26 Feb 2014

We wrote about significant app updates, including the Search app, a few weeks ago. That update corresponded with an update to the Now Launcher, the home screen experience that comes standard on Nexus 5 phones. Today, Android made that launcher available to the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Play Edition phones that run Android 4.4. If you have one of those phones, you can download it from Play right now.
So what’s in the Now Launcher? From the release notes:

Now on your home screen – it’s easier than ever to get the correct information at the right time.

What can be Done

Just say “Ok ” – when you’re on your home screen, just say “Ok ” to trigger voice input. Then state your search query. Or tell your phone what to do, like send a text message, get directions, or play a song. For a Faster search, tap the search box so you can enter your query immediately with Easy access to your product services, like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps. The status navigation bars in a larger viewing area are now translucent, so your wallpaper pops from every pixel. And is even visible when you expand your app drawer if supported by the device.
And the Intuitive wallpaper picker, select any image stored on your device or in the cloud. Position and preview your wallpaper before you set it.
In short, Google’s launcher moves Now from its current location. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen on some phones to the leftmost home screen. It also improves the search bar and adds an “always listening” as long as your phone is on the home screen and can use “OK ” to start a voice search or command. There are a few minor visual tweaks, too.
Unfortunately, you can’t install this launcher on any phone with Android 4.4 or have a nearly-stock experience. This is for those phones that have the stock interface, to begin with. We’re sure some enterprising enthusiasts will make an App available for anyone with a phone running KitKat. Or perhaps, Android will get gutsy and enable its official release more broadly.