Google Now Launcher availability expands to Nexus and Google Play edition devices

No longer for just the Nexus 5

Attention Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Google Play edition device owners: You too can now use the Google Play Launcher that was previous reserved for just the Nexus 5. That's right, no longer must you suffer with Google Now being a tap-and-hold or widget away, you can now install the Google Now Launcher and swipe right to launch right into Google Now.

It's not just easy swiping access to Google Now. That omnipresent search box is updated in the Google Now Launcher to be always listening for the phrase "Ok Google" — just say it to launch voice search. And it's a visual update with larger icons, relocated widget preferences, and other tweaks that make it easier and faster to use.

So long as your Android device is a Nexus or Google Play edition (that'd be the HTC One, LG G Pad 8.3, Moto G, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Sony Z Ultra) running Android 4.4, you can install the Google Now Launcher. It's not visually perfect on our HTC One Google Play Edition (there's some weird spacing), but it's nothing that can't be fixed with a few tweaks and an update. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Thanks to everybody for the tips!


Reader comments

Google Now Launcher availability expands to Nexus and Google Play edition devices


Trying to understand Google's thought process on the limited availability. Open it up to everyone Google!

Running the illegitimate version flawlessly on my GS3. But yeah, developing for a vast amount of devices is difficult. They had problems with the Nexus 7 grid and dock for months.

I'm trying to understand the frenzy over wanting it. So it's always listening and it's a swipe left on the home screen. Big deal.

Sent via my Verizon Moto X

Played with it on my N7 awhile back, switched back to Nova pretty quickly though.

Posted from my Nexus 5 via Android Central App

The huge icons are a pain - tried it for a while on my N5 and went back to Nova. It also has some weird layout issues with widgets.

Posted via Android Central App

I really wanted to care about this ever since I got my Nexus 5...but the massive number of features you lose by leaving Nova behind make it a joke to even consider it.

If Google wants Google Now to be really popular, open up some APIs so custom launchers can copy this functionality. Why reserve it for your own launcher...I don't see much to gain there compared to the chance to increase Google Now usage/visibility/easy of use etc.

There's tons of customizations, but to me, the best feature of Nova is that I not only get the top/bottom black bars to be transparent (just like GEL), get the icon and font look of the GEL without the oversized icons, I also don't have the left-scroll Google-Now 'feature' that, in a way, emulates the iPhone's worst UI aspect; that you can only scroll right to get to your stuff.

I'd be lost without gestures now. Plus I like switching up icon packs. A lot. I think I may have a problem lol.Swiping up the home button for Google Now works just fine for me, and I don't lose a home screen,

Seriously dude. Google HAVE NEVER called it Google Experience Launcher. Now that it is official and called Google Now Launcher. Stop calling it GEL. GEL doesn't exist. If you are going to criticize something, at least get the name correctly.

Yeah I did the opposite. I immediately uninstalled Nova and installed Google Now Launcher. I like it.

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I've had the GEL on my Galaxy s3 for months now. Just sideload the apk and you're good to go. Works flawlessly

Posted via Android Central App

Ya! Your right! I'm sure this will run great on a 5 year old device or a $50 Walmart tracphone! Not....

Posted via Android Central App

Did you get it straight from the play store? or did you download the APK yourself?
I didn't get it on my Nexus7 (2013) yet :(

Well, dunno if planned or not, but my SGS3 running OmniRom got it directly from the Play Store since they've included it as their standard launcher for their KitKat rom. :)

Yeah, that did take awhile.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

This is awesome!

But, I must add, if you really want the Google Now Launcher on your device, it's as simple as Google searching for the apk. One download, one install, and done for my Note 3.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

you and me both, but it didnt stay too long (well in use anyway, I am sure it is still installed)

I don't know what all the fuss is.

I actually really like it! It's simple, and it reminds me of my Nexus 5, lol. I can pretend that I have Google's Android on my Note 3.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

I'm with you. I like the interface, but I seem to be in the minority (among geeks, anyway) in that I don't need a ton of customizations to my launcher.

I used it on my N4. Now with my G2 I am not missing it much at all. I can get to google now simply by pressing into the search bar widget on my main home screen instead of swiping to the left... big deal.

I have had the apk installed on my N10 ever since it was posted on xda. This update has noticeably less stutter, especially when left-swiping to the Google Now screen.

I don't know how you can stand it on the Note 3... The icons are just massive!
The icons are one of the few things that keep me from using it.

EDIT: Never mind, found a link to it on your Google Play elsewhere......
%Link doesn't work and a search of the Google Play store doesn't show it. Me thinks Google has pulled it back.

No you don't. You have the back end of the launcher, but you can't latch it without this new stub.

My Nook HD+ running CM11 is also compatible. Possibly any CM11 will also work. I would assume other custom ROMs would fall in the same category.

Cool, but I'm probably still not gonna use it. Google Now is already one swipe away, from the home icon.

Posted via Android Central App

I've been running the Google experience launcher on my boost mobile Motorola g for a week now. No problems, no glitches, no spacing issues. No compatibility issues. I sideloaded it. As to why I want it, I wanted the nexus 5 look and feel. It also changes the app drawer to the true kit Kat feel

Posted via Android Central App

Not a fan of the Google Now Launcher.

Has to be one of the most boring launchers on the Play Store.

I'll stick with Apex thanks Google.

the big print giveth, the small print taketh

Nice to finally have it in the Play Store, but I'd rather want smaller icons to make room for 5 horizontally than this.

It's the default launcher on CM11. I realized it had hit the play store a while ago as it prompted me to update it. Works perfectly on my Z1.

Posted via Android Central App

What's this xposed module called? (Wouldn't let me reply to your other comment below)

Posted via Android Central App

Yes it does. I have cm 11 on my galaxy s3 and it clearly has the "home" option on the settings menu. You click on it abs the Google experience launcher is there by default

Posted via Android Central App

For anyone who is rooted, check out the new copied module for the launcher. It adds some really useful features.

Posted via Android Central App

Not a fan of those over-sized icons, Google should make them re-sizable immediately. Since it's only available for those few devices I guess it still has some kinks to be worked out. I would've assumed they would make it available to all Kit-Kat devices at the least.

me either. i used Nova Launcher on my Nexus 5 and it brings the icons to the "old" small size by default. 125-150% in settings can get them to the "new" big size. i prefer the old size - and i despise the Google search bar box - hence - i use Nova.

I definitely understand, Google shouldn't force you to have that search bar on your homescreen just like they shouldn't force all of their bloatware on our devices.

You're paying for a *Google* Android device.. which is centered around *Google* and it's services. They're not forcing anything - it's the way *Google's* Android is supposed to work. It's the centerpiece of the entire operating system.

Yeah those old folk icons are a puzzle to me. On my Nexus 5 I have changed the DPI of the phone to 445 instead of 480 and it has made everything look how I feel it should look.

This looks great on my 2013 Nexus 7. It does not look good on my Nexus 4. The icons are too big and too fuzzy to me.

Posted via Android Central App

You can add more screens, by dragging a widget or app icon past the right-most screen. It'll automatically create a new page.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Yeah just hold down between icons on the screen and you'll be prompted to add a new screen, add widgets or change wallpaper.

Posted via Android Central App

It automatically adds screens as you add more stuff to your home screen and automatically takes them away too

Posted via Android Central App

Don't see the fuss, sure it's great but Google now launcher is so boring compared to nova launcher. Guess if you OK google on your home screen fine but I rather have my custom icon packs... Google Integrate that then great.

Posted via Android Central App using galaxy s4

For the Nexus 5, isn't this just part of the KitKat 4.4 OS? I know they want to minimize Androids fragmentation, but it seems to me that this update to the other devices should come as an update to the version of KitKat that each device is running.

Over been running this launcher on my nexus 7 and my galaxy S3 since December. It's ready to find the apk and side load it to any device.

Posted via Android Central App

I never use a custom launcher on my Nexus 5 as I enjoy the features I have. Just installed on my Nexus 7 sung very nice.

Posted via Android Central App

I don't know if I am completely sold on this launcher. I like that Google Now is an easier swipe away, and that "Okay Google" works without having to open Google Now first, plus using just one page (hello folders) and the transparency behind the bottom buttons, but I'm still not used to the light background in folders. I liked the dark background and haven't found a way to change it. I keep switching back and forth right now. Maybe it'll just take some time to get used to it.

There needs to be a way to change the folder background color, I want to use a white icon pack with it but I can hardly see them in the folders because they're nearly the identical shade of white.

Uhg....the spacing is weird on my Nexus 10. I just wanted the always listening feature, but I think I will wait till the kinks are worked out.

As someone who hadn't switched launchers previously, I wasn't aware that I'd have to re-order everything-- first timers, don't upgrade unless you've got a few minutes to move everything around :)

I haven't read the comments, but you can install the Google Now Launcher on any device that has the most recent Google Search app. A quick Google search for Google Now Launcher apk will turn up the package. I am using it now because it's beautiful.

Posted from my Motorola Moto G

I like the launcher as much as the next guy but beautiful? If this is beautiful what word would describe the stock launcher or something like NOVA?

The stock launcher is okay but the Now Launcher is better IMO. I don't care for Nova, personally. Now is beautiful not merely in appearance, but more so in functionality with the way I use my Android.

Posted from my Motorola Moto G

This is just an example of what makes Android so appealing. There's something for everyone, and if you don't like something, there are plenty of alternatives.

I had it for my G2, but it killed my battery as a result of being in the "always listening" mode. Hopefully, they'll find a way of more efficiently utilizing the battery when (and if) they make this available to other non-Moto X phones.

I don't have that problem at all. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that it isn't being released to all devices...

Tried it and was very dissapointed after many moslty positive reader-reviews (which I value more than editor-reviews in most cases). But Google Now is also not my thing. Rather have the extra battery life without it. Nova Prime for me

Posted via Android Central App

I really like it. I have had it installed on my Droid Razr Maxx HD for almost a month. Of course I'm running CM11 though. I just updated through the play store

Posted via Android Central App

Interesting to see how the always listening feature affects battery life on these devices. Is the Nexus 5's hardware and/or software better optimized for this?

It certainly affected battery when I used it on the N5 but it's not always listening.. It's only when the phone is on the home screen and unlocked.

Posted via Android Central App

One thing I never noticed before on Google Launcher was the music detection. When saying "ok Google" have some music on in background. When the hotword is detected, if music is also playing, there is a blue note which you can then select. Hardly groundbreaking but didn't even know that was there

Posted via Android Central App

Got it as an apk a few weeks back n its been working just smooth on my Huawei P6 axcept for the huge icons

Posted via Android Central App

C'mon. Just make it available to ALL of us, already! Love how Google is circumnavigating OEM roms slowly but surely by giving us all these options via the Play Store.

I much prefer Nova, but this is still very good news. Hopefully now people can stop calling this the Google experience launcher though.

Bunch a whiney bitches is what y'all sound like. Don't wanna use it, then don't fucking use it. If you're rooted, Xposed is your bestfriend. Google is doing this for the people that want it, not for you ungrateful cry babies. They don't have to.

Posted via Android Central App

I got a Nexus 5 and for some reason this just appeared as an update?

EDIT: There's now a search bar at the top of the 'Now' area, other than that I can't see any other changes

Posted via Android Central App

I'm not too sure now. I'm just struggling to see what the cosmetic changes were in the update.

Posted via Android Central App

Put it on my Z Ultra GPE, thinking maybe they changed it since I last tried it. Nope, the icons look like low-res garbage, really not using the screen real estate well. Back to Nova, only missing the home-screen Google Now voice control.

Posted via Android Central App

I can't say I really like the new launcher. I like the always-on voice thing on the home screen...everything else seems like it is more convoluted than it needs to be. I swapped it for Nova Prime on my Nexus 5.

I have used the unofficial apk on my Nexus 4 & 7 (2013) since it was available. While it looks good & is inkeeping with the Nexus 5, you don't achieve much with the transparency. I have yet to find a single app that is programmed to make use of the real estate. All apps still have the black status bar & keys. Even Google apps should be using this surely?!

Posted via Android Central App

Umm....Ive had this feature on my nexus 4 since it updated to KitKat months ago. Since it updated to 4.4 I could swipe google now from the right as well as the app drawer was like the one on nexus 5. I waited for it to update on its own and did not side load the ROM.

Posted via Android Central App

This is a cool launcher. Although, I don't think it's going to be super useful for me as I'm cool with swiping up from my home button on the nexus 7. Moto X functionality is more of what I'd have wanted, but I'm sure that the reason why Moto X can do that is because of its hardware.

Still, great for those who like it.

Posted through my Nexus 7!

I just installed on my Nexus 4. Yes, there are some nice choices, and it probably is a good idea to rethink the icon layout anyway. But what happened to widges? I need my widges! No instructions! Can someone please help?

Posted via Android Central App

Sorry, I meant widgets. Same question. Before you could pick between apps and widgets. No more.

Posted via Android Central App

Finally! Ive had it and loved it since it was first made available online. Nice to have an official build tho

Posted via my oldie but goodie Nexii 4 using the Android Central App

Well, in case others haven't, long press on home screen for settings, wallpapers, widgets.

Posted via Android Central App on Nexus 4

Installed on my Nexus 4. Love the Google Now page and voice capability, but... where did my widgets go? My Calender, Email, Evernote, and not to mention other widgets are no more. I pressed the correct button, and my app icons transfered, but not any of my widgets. Now it looks like a crummy ios app launcher phone.

Press and hold anywhere on screen where there is empty space....for wallpaper and widgets. Widgets get knocked out when first adding the GN launcher. Just replace them.

When I went into the apps drawer, it didn't list widgets at all. Do I need to replace all of them?

Okay I figured it out. THANKS so much for explaining! I appreciate you taking a few moments to help me. I really like the larger icons. It doesn't impact me too much, since I only have 5 icons in 6 screens. The rest of the screen real estate is all widgets. I also like the okay google from home screen. not that i'm lazy....

I installed this in my nexus 7 and the widgets looked weird. I think the app is sort of compatible only for phones and not tablets...

Just installed on my Nexus 10 and then took it off, the width is 2 icons less, if I could have the same number of icons I would have kept it on. My Nexus 5 I use Nova.

I got my nexus 5. Used the Google Now Launcher for 5mins checked out it lack of feature and installed Apex Launcher. Apex, Nova, action launcher all have much better features than google Now launcher

Posted via Android Central App

For me it's not so much the lack of features - once I've setup I don't care - it's the huge icons. I couldn't even fit my normal daily use icons on the first screen due to the reduction in space. Hence going to Nova (my first non-stock launcher) when I got my N5.

Now I'm used to being able to have things exactly how I like the Google launcher is a hard sell..

Posted via Android Central App

I don't have a Google play edition phone, but just the usual Galaxy S4 with TouchWiz, now with CyanogenMod 11 and I installed Google Now but, I'm not sure if the "OK Google" command should work on my phone? Someone help me out and if that function doesn't work on my phone. Can I install something that would possibly enable this function on my phone?

Posted via Android Central App

Only thing that sucks is on my N7 it limits my widgets to x5 when it should be x6, still allows me to have six apps in a row though.

Posted via Android Central App

I don't understand the differences between my regular HTC one and a Google play HTC one....or how to get a hold of a Google play HTC one....Will the new HTC one have a Google play edition....someone help me out please

Posted via big dong dong on my HTC ONE!!!!!

Google Play HTC One is running Stock Android. Or very Nearly Stock. No Sense 5.X or whatever it is. Basically, its the closest an HTC One will ever come to being a bona-fide Nexus Device.

I like it. Over time I found I didn't use as many widgets or panes as I thought. I like the compact launcher. Google now and voice control make it a win for me.

Posted via Android Central App

Tried it for 5 mins and then uninstalled. Back to Nova Prime with custom icon packs, resizable widgets, gestures and unread counts on my icons. Not to mention it had transparent menu bars since kit Kat was first released. After being this spoiled this long I just can't go back to a non customizable launcher. I can swipe up for Google Now and I talk to myself plenty, I don't need to talk to my electronics too. Well... Maybe my Xbox One. Lol

Posted via Android Central App

I grabbed the APK and put it on my regular edition HTC One and it works fine. I could stand for the icons to be a little smaller but I like it otherwise.

Installed it yesterday. After playing around with it for about 10 minutes I was really baffled as to how some folks at Google sat around and thought it was in any way better than the previous launcher.

"Lets take away all the stuff they use and just leave them with the stuff they don't use!"

I always delete most of Google's apps and disable most of their services whenever I buy or use an Android product.

Resource sucking bloatware masquerading as convenient, integrated services.

Not working with my moto g..showing incompatible with your mobile on play store..:(

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