We have made no attempt to hide our love and fascination with launchers and Android in general, however there is plenty to be said about Google’s latest release on the Play Store. The Google Now launcher, the default launcher on modern Nexus devices for a very long time now has made its way to the Play Store and is available and ready to install for anyone with a 4.1+ Jellybean device. The Google Now launcher does have some unique features not found in other launchers, follows the latest visual theme and now coming straight from Google, it’s bound to stay updated and get new features all the time . So, let’s take a look at what the Google Now launcher is all about with a little tour showcasing some of its capabilities and features.
To install the Google Now launcher, like we mentioned, you can get it straight from the Play Store using this link. Once you install it, open it and you will see this screen:
Tap over the “Continue” button to proceed. The launcher will then ask you if you want to import your old icons and settings from the default launcher:
Choose either to copy them over or start fresh, with the default icons and options only. Be aware that the option to carry over your old data will only work with the default launcher. If you were using, for example, Nova Launcher, the option to carry over the data would not work correctly. Once you set this all up, you will then see the new launcher in action:
As you can see, all the usual stuff is there: you have the standard icons, options for folders and usual navigation options. However, the defining characteristic of the launcher is the integrated Google Now capabilities. Just swipe to the leftmost homescreen and you will see that Google Now is always there: no loading time, no waiting to open, just right there all the time:
The Google Now Launcher has a few peculiarities as well: for example, to add widgets to the homescreen, you will see that things are a bit different and widgets don’t show up as usual. That’s because widgets are no longer in the app drawer, and must be added by holding over an empty homescreen space and then picking the “Widgets” option:
Once there, you will be able to see all your available widgets and manually add as many as you’d like:
You can also search using voice recognition on the homescreen, if you have the option enabled. Just say “OK Google” at any point of the launcher and it will automatically launch a voice search that you can use to easily find what you’re looking for. This option isn’t as impressive now, as recent versions of Google Now actually offer the option to have always listening mode enabled, but it’s still nice to have and was an exclusive feature of this launcher for a very long time:
Besides all this, you can also see the promo video directly from Google to see what else the launcher has to offer:
And that’s about it for this launcher, folks. It’s nice to see Google doubling down on their promise to keep core Android apps up to date using the Play Store and Google Now. It’s now possible for most devices to share the same launcher, keyboard and basic way of functioning, which is something that was only a pipe dream a few years ago. Plus, being on the Play Store means simultaneous and constant updates, so it’s definitely refreshing to see this app reach a mass audience after all this time of exclusiveness and hacked together support for third party devices. Any questions or doubts? Feel free to let us know using the comment section below!