GIF

Swipe left-to-right to get to Google Now from the KitKat launcher

When Google Now was unveiled back at Google I/O 2012, we asked how long it would be before this new predictive search app became your home screen. Now, with Android 4.4 KitKat on the Nexus 5, it seems that time has finally arrived.

Similar to HTC BlinkFeed, the stock KitKat launcher lets you swipe right from the leftmost home screen to get directly into Google Now. Of course you can still get to it the old fashioned way by swiping up from the home key, too. And it's also possible to disable the Google Now pane entirely through the new home settings menu, accessed by long-pressing on any blank space.

Google Now has taken on more and more importance within Android over the past year, to the point where it's even rumored to form a major part of Google's upcoming smartwatch. So it's no huge surprise to see it given a piece of prime Android real estate. If anything, it just underscores the idea that the future of mobile search is indeed predictive.

We've got a handful of screenshots after the break.

 

Reader comments

In Android 4.4, Google Now is finally part of your home screen

118 Comments

Actually, they don't. They have Google Voice Search renamed Google Now. There's nothing predictive iOS Google Now. In other words, they get the "Google", but not the "Now."

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You and Alex tie for the win. That gif as the article heading was awesome. Everyone should do that from here on out

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You are correct in that it's not as integrated into the OS as it is on Android, but it does feature the cards and parsing of your calendar (appointments, package tracking, favorite sports teams, etc). I've heard they're going to eventually take advantage of the new notification center in iOS 7 in order to attempt some parity with the Android version.

They can make improvements, but it will never be as good on iOS as it is on Android. iOS is too tight on security to allow the app the kind of access it would need to do what it does on Android.

Manufacturers who add their own skin to Android generally add their own features, for better or worse. So yes, there would be no Sense without stock Android, however that doesn't mean anything in this particular case. Blink Feed has nothing to do with the version of android that Sense was built on top of.

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Saying anyone stole this from anyone else is absurd. Google Now has been around for a while. Swiping from the side of the screen is not an innovation, invention or original idea by ANYONE.

Stole is a strong word, but I think Google was clearly inspired by HTC on this one. Vertically scrolling, full screen content available on the leftmost homescreen? There is even a fade animation when accessing it that looks identical to the fade to BlinkFeed. Obviously BlinkFeed and Google Now provide different content, but I think Google engineers saw BlinkFeed on Sense 5 and thought "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if you could access Google now like that and it just lived on your homescreen?"

They also borrowed the "Highlights"that are new with Google plus which is basically HTC "Zoe" I'm OK with manufactures borrowing from each others ideas and putting there own spin on it Samsung does it all the time s-voice= siri , s-translate =Google translate, s magazine = blinkfeed and dual shot = Lg dual camera mode or whatever they call it I'm OK with it all as long as I don't hear a fanboy saying that "feature" was stolen from ?

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I'm not sure I understand the hoopla around this addition to the homescreen. I've been using the Google Now widget since it came out... and I can put that on *any* screen I want - not just the far left.

So what's so great about this? I mean, this has been available for a while, it just required the user to place the widget on the homescreen.

Since Google stole this from HTC, I think we should call this "Blink Now".

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I like the premise of Google Now but I've never got used to it as it just seemed a huge battery hog on my Nexus 4. A lot of stuff was also US specific so didn't really benefit me in the UK. I therefore disabled it.

Does this version improve on it in any way, other than just giving you a new way to access it?

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I live in the UK too and I find Google Now extremely useful. However, it is dependent on where I am. I'm from a town in Yorkshire and round there, there's not much info from Google Now but when I go up to Dundee(where I live most of the year) I get a lot of information

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I live in the UK too and I find Google Now extremely useful. However, it is dependent on where I am. I'm from a town in Yorkshire and round there, there's not much info from Google Now but when I go up to Dundee(where I live most of the year) I get a lot of information

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Yeah, I find it more cool than useful. It's a cooler way to access info you could already access. I live in Stoke-on-Trent the "city" no one wants to visit, so local info is relatively sparse here add well. It's probably the greatest thing ever if you're in new York city or parts of California.

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It really depends on how much you have going on in your life. I constantly am flying for work, tracking packages, watching sports, commuting etc etc. At any given time, Google Now has everything relevent to me in one place. Its actually genius if not a bit creepy.

I don't fly often but I found that tracking packages and stuff just didn't work in the UK. In fact, very little did. As other UK users have said, it all depends on your location. I'm out in West Gateshead Borough and there's nothing that shows up that isn't already on my homescreen through widgets. :(

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Yeah I've never had the track package thing work either, from gmail or searches. In fact, adding cards through searches doesn't happen much at all, most of the time it's just... The weather *plays obscure song* (

If tracking packages actually worked it'd be really useful, because I often have things I'm waiting for. I still run 'parcels' for that.

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I've never got the features to work that Alex has in his screenshots; like walking, driving, and other such activities and I live in a very rural area, too. However, I installed Moves and that knows precisely how far I've walked or driven so it can't just be down to location.

Google now is just awesome. The funny thing is that it thinks that I work at the dog park (so does my dog) and always gives me the estimated drive time.

I've never informed google now that this is technically not correct.

But my wife, who only goes with me to the dog park on the weekends, gets estimates to the dog park, but only on the weekends. The predictive algorithms and stalking technology are amazing.

I love it as well. Package tracking has been very good and it has saved my bacon on flights on a couple of occasions.

First, I was flying my sister-in-law out to visit us. Now had the info from Gmail and popped up with a notification that her flight would be landing 45 minutes early.

The second time, I was flying to Nashville to visit in-laws. My wife bought my ticket home while I bought the ticket out there. As I was in Dallas on my layover, I got a notification about my trip back, telling me it was two hours after I would land in Nashville. I thought No had screwed up, but as it turned out, it was my wife who had made the mistake and booked the flight back for the wrong day. I never would have realized this without Google Now.

This is exactly what I've told everyone about Google Now. It's cool for pretty much everyone, but you won't understand just how useful it is unless you travel with it a lot. My territory for work covers the northeast and a lot of the midwest, and after a couple months with Google Now, it had learned the hotels I stay at, clinics I work at, airports and train stations I frequent, etc.

One thing I do wish for is boarding pass integration with more airlines. It'd be great to get US Air boarding passes in Google Now, since US Air's app and mobile website are giant bags of drippy shit.

But without things that constantly update it's no better than what's already out there. I hope they release a killer 'app' that makes me need Now as it seems great but not for my location. I *want* to like/need it! LOL.

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Battery hog? I see absolutely no evidence whatsoever for that on my Nexus 4, and I use it daily. Loving every minute. Google Now is the 2nd biggest reason I can't go to the iPhone even though my main computer is a Mac.

No evidence of battery drain at all.

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That's great news for you. Unfortunately my experience definitely differs. Do you live in an area with strong and multiple cellular signals? I wonder if it's the continual polling to weaker rural/semi-rural signals that's causing it here.

It also appears I'm not the only one experiencing it and I know I'm definitely not making it up (what would I gain for doing so?).

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I saw a decent increase in battery life after disabling location services across the board (which makes Google Now pretty useless), but I flashed an old Google Search apk that didn't include Google Now and didn't see any appreciable increase in battery life over the course of about a week.

tl;dr, GN's frequent location querying can dent your battery, but the app itself is pretty harmless.

I live in London and Google Now does a fantastic job of helping me plot journeys on bike, public transport and driving. I guess it's all about location, location, location

Nothing in Manchester.. Just the weather, and I prefer the BBC weather app for that. I keep Google now enabled just in hope that it does something useful one day.

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I'm intrigued.. How does Google now help you plot journeys? Sure you don't mean maps? Surely if you've already searched for something (which is how Now comes up with the '8 hours to Timbuktu' card) you've already decided whether to go there or not..

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I wonder how HTC will reconcile this with Blinkfeed. I love Blinkfeed, but I'd give it up in a heartbeat to have Google Now easier to access.

I think HTC will leave BlinkFeed as is on the Sense launcher in their 4.4 update, but I bet they will include the Google launcher with this feature and have a Home option in Settings that lets you choose between the two launchers.

That's what every OEM should do . Or Google will put this launcher on the play store so you can switch easily, I have been using the Google launcher on my G2 and I really like it but it does take some getting use to , the app drawer has no settings for widgets now you have to press on the home screen to choose widgets and I have t been able to find a way having a blank home screen just to see the wallpaper. I deffinetly like having Google now to the left it is Allready populated and will only refresh if you swipe down.

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I would love to see Google Invert their apps to black. In a dark room that bright white is blinding if you have brightness too high. Never heard a legitimate reason why they don't. It's the main reason I root my phones.

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So much agree, plus it'd enable a high contrast mode for the partially sighted technophiles, Google's current"light grey on white"scheme can be damned hard to read.

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When Google switched to light grey text over white background, it became significantly more strenuous to read (use). So much so, I no longer peruse Google Play. Just too tiresome. I wish we had the option to better control text attributes.

Strange. Turn your brightness down maybe? How do you read web pages? Most internet sites are light. Might want to check out Windows Phone. There's white text on black everywhere.

so if you swipe left to get it, what happens to the homescreen on that side? you never see it again? O.o or is it only attached to the end homescreen? i don't know how that's going to work. i don't want it popping up if i'm just swiping through my homescreens.

There is no homescreen on that side. Now your 'main' screen is the one next to GNow and the rest you have to swipe to.

Like how the Touchwiz launcher works, your main screen is no longer the middle one.

I'm thinking it might be like the droids. When enabled, you have all those settings and stuff to the left of your home and you can only add/swipe screens to the right.

From the article: "Similar to HTC BlinkFeed, the stock KitKat launcher lets you swipe right from the *leftmost* home screen to get directly into Google Now"

So unless you have a third party launcher set up for looped homescreen cycling, this shouldn't pop up when you're just flicking through your homescreens, since it will only trigger by swiping left from the far left screen.

Looped home screens>this. Seems completely and utterly pointless to me, is it not simpler and , in my opinion, sleeker to just swipe up as per usual? Or am I missing something? Still, I'm not really complaining, as I can turn it off, more options are better and I'm sure *someone* will find it useful.

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I was thinking the same thing, but it seems, from the gif, that the home screen version will open faster, kindda acts like a widget. The up gesture would probably do like today : a full app boot and refresh. But it is one of the first thing I will try when I get it.

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This^ it won't need to refresh, it will Allready be populated unless you want to swipe down on the Google now page to refresh.

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It's because swiping up is not obvious to the casual user. This is a way for them to make sure that people who don't read Android Central will notice and use Google Now. Like my mom, who barely knows how to check her voice mail but has a medical degree and a Master's degree. For some reason, smartphones cause many people to turn into the nonfunctional disabled.

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I prefer looped home screens as well. It's the reason I use Nova Launcher. If I get this phone in a couple weeks I'll try this out tho.. but more likely than not I'll disable it and use Google Now the current way by swiping up from home.

One thing about the new "stock" launcher. You can activate google now, by voice, from the home screen also (it's listening for "ok, google"). That's pretty nice. I wasn't expecting that.

On the nexus 4 it's not listening with the screen off, as would be expected because the older chipset wasn't designed to do this in a battery efficient manner.

I really want to use this new "stock" launcher for this "always listening" feature, but I had to go back to GO launcher for a couple other reasons that currently trump the convenience of the always listening feature. I really want to get rid of GO EX, period. But nothing else allows me to setup the way I want. Hopefully the third party launchers get the transparent nav/status bars soon. And I just wonder if they will ever be able to get the always listening feature enabled.

And on a somewhat related note... SMS and MMS in Hangouts is working awesomely on the N4. That alone is made yesterday a really good day.

This^ I'm Allready using hagouts 2.0 as my default messenger on my nexus 7 2013 and Lg G2 love it. Also using the Google experience launcher I found on phandroid . The always listening "OK Google " works perfectly.

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I personally love this idea. I only have two home screens now. A blank one, and one with a google now widget that takes up as much screen space as I could make it, and I prefer them to not loop. I guess Google made this with me in mind. THANKS GOOGLE!

I rarely use the edge screens so I will just continue to use the up gesture I think. But it's a nice feature nonetheless.

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You'll be able to disable the screen placement and still use the swipe up gesture.

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I just really wish they didn't take away the play store shortcut in the launcher...

No one (normal consumers) will find it under P now.

At least put it front and center next to the search bar. Or in Google now itself.

What do you mean? The shortcut is right there on the right. Even on Google's N5 page you can see it on the home screen. There's really not much on the home screen now that Maps and YouTube are most likely added to the Google folder so it should be even easier for you to find than on the N4

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He means in the app drawer top right corner it is no longer there other is only apps in the app drawer no widget page or play store icon in the top corner.

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Ummmm yeah, if I got a N5, I'm installing Apex Launcher immediately.

I disabled Google Now (touchless) on my Moto X, it's OK for the first couple days then you just don't have any need for it anymore after that.

This still doesn't make me want to use it. All it does is drain my battery twice as fast.

Glad I root my phones and use 3rd party launchers.

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How will being able to access Google Now faster make it drain your battery more?

Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.

I'm using the new nexus launcher and this makes Google Now so much faster. No more loading the info every time I open the app.

I'm a little confused by the animated gif...

It looks like Alex is accessing Now by swiping to the right from the centre of the display (not from the edge) of the middle homescreen?

Shouldn't that have taken him to the homescreen on the left??

HTC blinfeed is actually pretty cool, in fact it was cool enough that Samsung implemented a similar idea with s magazine or whatever they call it on the note 3.

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I hated opening spotlight on iOS when swiping left from first screen. I used to jailbreak my iPad just to get rid of that crap. And Google Now isn't really useful for me right now (although they're constantly making it better). I'm not sure if I'm gonna like this feature.

Aren't you guys wrong now? I think even Google them self said that Nexus 5 has a "google launcher". So Google Now swipe and "hello google" is features of this launcher and not a feature of Android. Information is a bit scarce, but this is what I have picked up so far at least. But nothing 100% confirmed.

The idea of G-Now is good, but in the UK I don't see much. Google needs to think "outside the American box" a bit more. Even Apple seem to have a more "international" vision - which frankly surprises me.

I waited weeks to see the N5, just in case. Unfortunately, the fixed 2300mAh battery killed it. Can LG + 4.4 make it last 48 hours? Why is Google STILL locking in this kind of fundamental, BONE HEADED design error? The extra cost of 3000mAh would be tiny; it might make the phone 1mm thicker -so what?

Extract head from bottom Google. Stop being so b____y stupid!

Awesome A C

Qualcomm's Snapdragon A800 SOC is why significant power consumption efficiency is achieved.

This information has been available on Qualcomm's Website for about 6 months. Look it up yourselves and learn.

As a person who only has one homescreen with a scrollable dock (I use Nova Launcher)I was glad they added controls to disable it if you don't like it.
More companies need to do this kinda thing! I'm all for adding new features and such but they need to way to turn them off if you dislike them.

Will they finally let you reduce your home screen count to 1 or will I still have to use nova?

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I don't use google now, the features just don't do anything worthwhile for me, so I am glad it can be turned off. I do like having home screens to the left and right of my main home page. Motorola's launcher uses only right side home screens and it always bugged me. Swiping left would open the settings on Motorola phones.

This gif reaffirms to me that a transparent status bar looks cluttered as well. I hate how the backgrounds clash or mesh with the icons so they become harder to see. The icons and clock would completely disappear with a white background. I'll have to stick with a dark background I guess. Hopefully bright apps like gmail have it worked out so we will be able to see the status bar. Unless the status bar become nontransparent when an app is opened?

What is your problem with blink feed it gathers all your news sources and puts them in a nice layout including android central so what's the problem? It can also be disabled in sense 5.5 .

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I am all for Google Now being off to the left when I swipe. Long pressing the home button is fine, but having a faster way to access it can't hurt. I just did a trip up the east coast and Google Now was ridiculously helpful.

It's the other way around, Google Search is the launcher itself, the launcher app being part of it. When you have more than one launcher and need to clear the launcher default, you have to open the Google Search settings.

I picked up a Google nexus 4 16gb about 6 months ago. When Android 4.4.2 was launched OTA to Google devices, I was able to install Google Now Launcher immediately after the nexus 5 release. I'm confused as to why this is making news now...