Google Now

ZTE will be using the Google Now Launcher on future hardware, it's a huge deal as previously this feature was limited to hardware within Google's own Nexus family of products with other select handsets. You essentially have to sideload to install Google's Now Launcher on most Android handsets.

The Blade Vec 4G by ZTE is one of the first devices from the company, running Android 4.4, which will provide owners with said functionality. This handset will be officially announced at an upcoming event in Hong Kong, but the move paves the way for other manufacturers to also bundle the Google Now Launcher on their hardware.

ZTE will pre-load the launcher on smartphones with Android 4.4 and above that have both Google Mobile Services and Google Play enabled We'd imagine that other manufacturers that have shown a light touch with customizing Android might also be interested in getting the coveted Google Now Launcher on their devices. While Android is a wide open platform that can be customized to the manufacturer's content (hello, Samsung, Google has also taken a firm hand with newer products and slapped down the prospect of custom interfaces.

Check out the press release below for more details.You probably don't have a ZTE smartphone, so what devices would you like to see get official support for the Google Now Launcher?

ZTE, one of the top global handset manufacturers, today announces one of the first few pre-loaded Google Now Launcher smartphones among non-Nexus and non-Google Play Experience devices worldwide to offer improved user experience and better value. The ZTE Blade Vec 4G smartphone with Google Now Launcher incorporates the Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 400 processor and furthers ZTE's strong relationship with Google and Qualcomm Technologies in growing the LTE market.

ZTE has worked closely with Google to pre-load Google Now Launcher onto several ZTE devices. The ZTE's Blade Vec 4G smartphone on Android 4.4 and Snapdragon 400 processor with integrated multi-mode 3G/4G LTE is designed to deliver a better user experience that is supported by 3 modes (4G LTE-FDD, 3G UMGS/TD-SCDMA) and 9 radio frequency bands.

The ZTE Blade Vec 4G smartphone along with one other ZTE premium device will be officially presented at a ZTE press conference held in Hong Kong on July 24, 2014. ZTE has launched the Blade Vec 4G and other premium devices in Europe and in China, and now will make them available in Hong Kong with the added benefits of Google Now Launcher pre-loaded.

ZTE plans to pre-load Google Now Launcher on all Android 4.4 and above smartphones that have Google Mobile Services and Google Play enabled. Having Google Now Launcher pre-loaded onto the ZTE Blade Vec 4G, the new device becomes the first systemic terminal voice control solution in the industry. Mr. Zeng Xuezhong, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, and Executive Vice President of ZTE Corporation, commented, "ZTE's strong relationship with Google and Qualcomm Technologies is in line with our focus on developing affordable premium devices that has rich voice control function as well as multimedia solutions. ZTE is continuing to push the boundaries and brings its customers the very latest experience that mobile technology can offer."

On the ZTE Blade Vec 4G smartphone, Google Now Launcher is complimentary to ZTE flagship devices' voice recognition and control function. ZTE Blade Vec 4G strongly features voice command functionality, including phone unlocking, dialing / answering calls, playing music, navigational controls, taking photos, etc.

Visually appealing UI

The Google Now Launcher UI lets users add as many home screens as they like, and helps them quickly get to their favorite apps. Another feature is the method for user to add widgets. To personalize and embellish ones smartphone, a user can select any images stored in the device or in the cloud or adjust the position of the image and preview before saving the setting.

Quick and easy access to Google Now

Google Now gives users just the right information at just the right time. For example, if you've booked a flight on selected airlines Google Now can give you your boarding pass, or tell you if the flight is delayed.

Free hands with a hotword

Ok Google allows hand free voice command triggered by just saying "Ok Google" at standby mode. Tell the phone what to do, not only limited to search query, text a message, get directions, or play a song, but even setting reminders and alarms, opening apps. Google Now Launcher supports multiple languages without presetting language in phone. Google Now Launcher gives users a clean and simple user interface, and keeps Google Now and search just a swipe or a tap away.

Key benefits

  • A visually appealing UI.
  • Quick and easy access to Google Now.
  • Fast and snappy.
  • The "Ok Google" hotword for opening quickly accessing Google Search

Reader comments

Google Now Launcher will be the default on future ZTE devices


I'm running it on my LG G3 and it runs great. I feel if LG wanted to make them standout from the rest of the bunch they should have used stock android.

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Then you would have a crappy camera and less battery life. Not to mention no Knock, knock and a whole host of other features missing that are making it into "L".

So no.

I think he meant to say android without a custom skin, like Moto does. Motorola still uses custom camera and custom features like touchless and active display. So there's nothing holding LG back from taking the same approach, only changing things that add value without competing with Google's vision.

OK that I can buy, Using stock icon and stuff like that I am good with. When you start talking about vanilla you can screw up a phone, fast

And a lot of those software customizations can be dumped off as all's in the play store so they can be updated independently of the firm ware. I wish Motorola was doing better because they're doing basically everything right at this point

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Well yeah. It is a condition of the AO program that Google handles the updates. Baking in stuff will not fly so any custom stuff will have to be handled that way.

Moto is doing a lot right, but far from everything.

I've been running the Google launcher for about 3 months now, and I can honestly say it is one of the most functional launchers I've ever used. I never knew how much I used Google now until it became so easily accessible.
I like the idea of OEMs delivering a stock experience. Unskinned Android has become beautiful and functional in its own right, and many of the features that custom launchers added are now native to the OS. Not only that, but using the stock Google launcher should mean faster updates and more resources that the OEM can devote to other parts of development of their products.

Yes it is about time that Google started to add features "taken" (and I do not mean that in a "stole" sorta way) from OEMs. If there is a Nexus 7 Phone it might actually be worthwhile (I skipped 6 on purpose)

Besides the Google now integration what else do you find functional about the launcher?

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Hopefully this starts a trend of cheaper hardware being stock or close to stock in Android. Bloat and low end hardware have been an issue for Android since the start and this might be the solution.

Although I've seen people say that the Google Now Launcher is the least customizable, I believe it is the most productive. I used to run it on all my devices because I discovered the beauty of Google Now and I love being able to search with just my voice. I'd still be running it on my phone if I didn't have the Moto X with Touchless Control. I still have it downloaded and go back and forth between it and Nova Launcher. It will always be one of my favorite launchers

OK, Google Now. Post comment to Android Central.

Well I use Google Now quite a lot and having it just to the left is extremely handy. And that's a feature that isn't found in any other launcher. As soon as I can use icon packs and maybe some gesture control on the Google Now launcher, I'll switch back from Nova.

OK, Google Now. Post comment to Android Central.

I haven't used the Google launcher for awhile. I didn't know/forgot that it was on the left homescreen.

You can use Google now from anywhere after the last update. Using the same "OK Google" keyword.

Yes, but then you have to say "OK Google". Do that the next time you're in a meeting.

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Or hold down the home button and hit the G button. or hit the google search icon....

It can be done a ton of different ways.

Is this (ZTE going with stock) different from what Android One is supposed to accomplish? I'm not too sure about all the particulars.

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Oh sorry I didn't really answer your question.

Yes it is different. Google is setting out the rules for the hardware and will handle the updates for Android One devices. OEMs will be able to add stuff, but for the most part this is Googles thing.

The only thing they really have in common with this phone is that they will be coming in at around the same price point.

Yeah from what I remember from I/O when it was announced, Google thought that the OEMs were giving crap to the developing nations/low end and wasting money with it. It was a good move on their part to not have Android have a bad name and alienate a ton of potential customers down the road. OEMs will like it because they really will not have to design much at all, or plan, or support, all these low end phones. Samsung will only have to put out 20 models a year instead of 50.

No, I don't think Samsung and co will actually participate. Android One project seems more likely to go and help local OEMs from these emerging markets. So in India, Google will partner with emerging Indian OEMs, for instance.
Samsung will still produce crappy low end devices that saturate the market and add no value beside raking in cash for them.
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First off your "crappy" comment show you to be a potential hater, so what you say could be taken with a huge grain of salt. Next, it is an open program. You are right that it is starting with the lower end OEMs in the region, but there is nothing at all from stopping Samsung, HTC, Sony or anyone else from participating.

What is announced does not mean that is all that will participate.

It's not the launcher that counts, you can switch and disable anytime, but skinning in a way it ruins the whole experience is a terrible idea, please someone tell samsung and huawei to stop this! Oh and less bloatware pls. Add a custom store, ok, I'll download your apps if I need them, but otger than a nice camera app, there aren't a ton of good preloaded software on your phone... The only one I can think of is S Note on the Note devices...

I love the GEL on my Nexus 5, I even sideloaded it on my Dell Venue 8. I think it would be an overall better deal for Google if more OEMs would run with it, and thus, the majority of everyday users would know and understand a standard they would find from Android phone to phone.