One of the more drool-worthy aspects of the software from the Nexus 5 (and not necessarily Android 4.4) is the homescreen and launcher, which includes a ton of new features tied directly into Google Now and Google Search. But you might want to curb your enthusiasm: according to a report from The Verge, Google isn't interested in expanding that launcher to other devices at the moment.

2013-11-05 19.58.32 2013-11-05 19.58.10 2013-11-05 19.57.29

Google tells us that the new Launcher on the Nexus 5 is exclusive to the phone — though the company may change its mind and offer it for the Nexus 4 and perhaps even put it on the Play store someday. For now, Google wants to see how users take to the Launcher on Nexus 5 before it offers it on other devices.

Android Police alumnus Ron Amadeo found that the core functionality in the Nexus 5 launcher is mostly contained in the Google Search app, which means that it would be easy enough for Google to bring the Now-centric features to other devices with a Search update. (At least some of those features, like the touchless voice command on the homescreen, are hardware-dependent.) I'm not sure how much credence I put in the idea that Google is using the Nexus 5 as a sort of testing ground for its new branded launcher... it seems to me that it's more likely to be a value add for the N5 itself. Just a few lines down in the Verge article, Matias Duarte refers to the launcher as "the single most exciting thing for Nexus 5."

There are already a few somewhat hacky solutions for getting the fancy new launcher on other phones, even those which are running older versions of Android. You can bet we'll be keeping an eye on Google's official offerings in the Play Store for any updated functionality.

Source: The Verge

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • TSON1

    Touchless voice isn't hardware dependent at all. I have the launcher on my Nexus 7 and it works perfect.

    • Justin Foster

      Nexus 7 is very recent hardware

      • R. Daneel

        There are reports of it running perfectly on the GNex, I have personally ran it on my N4, this isn't hardware dependant.

        • cmbeid

          As I wrote above, works fine on my Galaxy Nexus. Although every Android blog and story I have read claims the "Ok Google" functionality from the homescreen is hardware dependent.

          • navjot

            Because other devices don't include the new Snapdragon 800 which allows for "always listening" without have a adverse effect on battery life. Although the effects on battery are minimal since it's only on the homescreen, that is why sites report it as hardware dependent.

          • Nathan Borup

            saying ok google from the homescreen is not hardware dependent, i have it working on my nexus 10. Its listening while the phone is asleep that is hardware dependent. In order to do this, the hardware would have to have a low-power consuming processor to always be active, listening and processing voice. This is limited to only the snapdragon 800 and the moto X8 chip. If you try to enable this on any other device, battery drain will be through the roof.

          • Dennis Ulijn

            I've had it on for a few days now, and Android OS seems to constantly use 30-35% of my battery, over an entire day. I suspect this is because of Always listening

          • OG Triple OG

            False. Ok Google function with the screen off is hardware dependent

          • runderekrun

            Not hardware dependent, just exclusive to the Nexus 5. A lot of blogs got that wrong.

        • Justin Foster

          Oh ok.

    • cmbeid

      Hell, it works fine on my Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7 (2012) and Nexus 7 (2013).

      • Nicholas Ruiz

        Also works on my Note 3

    • c3vzn

      The launcher is just a new version of the Google search app where any phone that ran it also had touchless voice commands.

    • pfmiller

      I dont consider it touchless voice if it doesn't work when the phone is in sleep mode.

    • kj

      I have it working perfectly on my sgs3 with 4.1.2 no problems,

  • Anthony Wingfield

    Why wouldn't they make sure people don't hate it before pushing it out to everyone else?

    • mustbepbs

      Agreed. I was slightly pissed reading this, but then I realized that they probably want to perfect it (in a Google sort of way) before bringing it to the Play Store. Easier to modify and tinker with it on just the N5 instead of tons of devices.

      • EowynCarter

        Mmm, good point.

        I expected it to be a part of 4.4 though.

    • Stacey Liu

      Why wouldn't they make sure people don't hate it before giving it out on their brand new flagship device? That's just specious reasoning. Google is being lazy.

      If they're that worried, they should make it optional. When you get your KitKat OTA, it should ask you if you want to keep your old home screen setup or try out the new Google Experience Launcher with a revert option. If adoption rates are high, they can nuke the old one in future releases.

  • anezarati

    wait, wait, wait, so the launcher is not part of 4.4 and might not come to the nexus 4?!?!

    i thought the n4, n7, etc were all getting 4.4 soon, wouldn't that mean they get the launcher too? or are they saying other nexus devices won't be getting 4.4 anytime soon?

    • KoRRo

      no, this is not the aosp launcher, it's a custom feature of nexus 5.. pretty much as photo sphere was for nexus4 ath the beginning

      • anezarati

        well i didn't realize that. it only adds to the fragmentation of android to me.

        • Matthew Gardner

          Well then you don't understand what fragmentation is

          • Stacey Liu

            Fragmentation can refer to absolutely anything that isn't evenly distributed across a set of devices. He's not wrong. He's just not referring to what we traditionally think of.

      • vitriolix

        It is the AOSP launcher. I'm running it on my GN. This story is just wrong

        • Ryuuie

          No, it really isn't the AOSP launcher. In fact, you CAN go back to the real AOSP launcher on the Nexus 5 if you turn Google Now off.

          Reading the 4.4 manual from Google that was released on the Play Store, it even confirms that it is a special launcher for the Nexus 5 only.


          • Stacey Liu

            But it's also in AOSP as Launcher3.

          • Ryuuie

            Where is that said? Not that I think you're lying, I'm just wondering where people are getting that from as I haven't heard it before.

          • Stacey Liu


            If you build it, it becomes the GEL without the Google Now features. However, they're handled by intents, so having Google Search installed enables them.

          • Ryuuie


            Just saw the pictures of the T-Mobile Moto X 4.4 leak and the launcher icon is the same one from ICS to JB...wonder if the opaque one is exclusive to GEL.

          • Josiah

            But I have it running on my S3 as part of paranoid android

          • Mnoz

            It's part of the "gapps" not AOSP, just like the play store and maps and all the google apps.

          • Stacey Liu
        • KoRRo

          complete with google now integration? i don't think so, official aosp launcher, launcher3 don't have it, so we have 2 cases: or you're not using the aosp launcher (installing the n5 launcher apk is not that hard) or it doesn't have all the features of the n5 one..

  • Brandon

    Works fine on my gs3.

  • silver_arrow

    I can see why. As people who read a site like this yeah we know about it but for your average person who picked up the phone because its cheap. Well replacing their entire homescreen is something, same reason the GNex kept the AOSP browser and the Nexus 4 is keeping messaging

    • mgamerz

      This guy gets it.

      • Stacey Liu

        So Apple should have kept the iOS 6 UI in iOS 7 for non-5S users, because the new navigation paradigms and layouts might confuse users.

        Blaming your users for being stupid is just blocking progress.

    • Freak4Dell

      Other than the left swipe to Google Now, how is this drastically different than the previous AOSP launcher? As long as they import the screens and widgets from the previous launcher, there is no reason for this to be confusing to anyone who has a Nexus 4, 7, or 10. On other non-Nexus devices, you have a point, but on stock Android devices, it's just basically an upgrade to the AOSP launcher and looks practically the same.

  • Woodrowe Bones

    For me personally the fact that its still lacking gestures and other features that are standard on most other launchers makes it a moot point. The launcher looks nice and I'd love to use it but I just cant function without gestures anymore!

    • Itchy_Robot

      I hear you brother. I can't live without that feature anymore either. Google needs to just implement it into their OS and give thanks to the community.

    • BrianLipp

      agreed. At the very least i want them to make it so when you pull the notification bar down from on top of the clock area, it goes right to quick settings. I know thats more of a System UI thing rather than a launcher thing, but its still something i miss after leaving the GNex and using a mod that allowed that.

    • TY

      There are good reasons not to include gestures. Some gestures are unintuitive and useless (e.g. what's the point of previewing pages?). Some are inconsistent with other parts of the OS. Moreover, it can break some interactive live wallpapers.
      Don't expect Google's launcher to include gestures any time soon.

      • Woodrowe Bones

        I would say just make it an option. I would say swipe down for notification drawer and swipe up for app drawer and not only incredibly convenient but highly intuitive. Those are the only 2 I really use/want but it cant hurt to have the option and just leave it off by default

        • TY

          Custom launchers to the rescue!

  • Stacey Liu

    So we're missing out on the one big user facing change in KitKat.

    Thanks a lot Google. My UI is whiter now. This update was definitely worth waiting for.


    This is in the manual that was released - It explicitly mentions that the Nexus 5 uses a different home screen.
    Launcher2 works beautifully, though it has had a few tweaks for 4.4 and will remain the default on everything but the Nexus 5. The over scroll effect is white on all devices, for example.
    Launcher3/GEL is sort of busted on tablets - It wasn't developed with them in mind. Specifically on tablets, the folder and all apps icons are the old ones, and the over scroll effect is blue.
    The "hardware dependency" is somewhat untrue - put the app on another device and the "OK Google" anywhere works just fine. The hardware bit is probably just so that the battery doesn't drain.

    • BrianLipp

      yea, the hardware dependency is really only a factor when Voice Control can be activated from anywhere on the device (ie, while in any app, not just the launcher) like on the moto X. From what ive read, the "Ok Google" in the N5 only works when youre on the Homescreen, so it probably only starts the listening service when you go back to it.

  • Dinofan01

    I understand not wanting to silently install it on any phone with the search app because of how potentially pissed off OEMs would be but not even to other Nexus devices? Come on!

  • Itchy_Robot

    I'm running it now on my stock Verizon S3. Works perfectly fine, and wasn't hacky at all to install. I never use it though since I have gotten so used to Nova's icon gesture feature. That one is hard to live without.

  • JordanMcRae

    Why not even other Nexus devices? -_-

  • BrianLipp

    That is a strange reason, seeing as how ROMs built off of AOSP (for me, the sort-of-alpha from ParanoidAndroid for Flo and Shiny ROM for the GNex) both come with this launcher. It either came from building from AOSP or from GAPPs. Maybe theyre just using a ripped version from a N5? im not sure.

    • R. Daneel

      The launcher came with the GApps package, which was pulled from the N5 image. This is the equivalent of sideloading it.

      • BrianLipp

        Alright then, so this is just an Apple move from Google, since it works perfectly fine on both of the devices ive tried it on.

        (Apple Move, as in release OS update for multiple devices, but leave out headline features on older devices to get you to upgrade. ie, Siri only ran on 4S(i think, or 5, forget when Siri launched) at launch, even though the 4 was capable of using it without issue)

  • Jadephyre

    So another shaft for people that didn't jump on the N5 at the first possible opportunity.
    Dick move Google, a real dick move...

  • cmbeid

    How can touch less voice commands from the homescreen be hardware dependent? It works fine on my Galaxy Nexus.

  • SJ

    So, whats the point in a nexus device anymore. I understand that I can get it from xda but I shouldn't have to do that.

  • Michael Sheils

    I'm calling bullshit on that Verge story, the launcher works fine on any device, it can be built from AOSP and the touchless voice works regardless of hardware (as long as you have the region set to US as always).

    • cmbeid

      The icon captions get cut off on my Nexus 7 (2013). Although otherwise, you are correct, it works on every device I tried it on.

    • Woodrowe Bones

      Yeah I have it on my N4. It actually works pretty well and looks good. The wallpapers dont seem to set properly but I also have a higher DPI than stock. I mentioned this in another post but if they just added gestures I'm sure tons of people would use it. I know I would as it would be one less thing I'd have to install/worry about when I flash a new ROM :p

    • Kyle Riedemann

      I've used it on a Nexus 4, 7, and 10 and it runs just fine on all. On the Nexus 10 the search bar doesn't stretch across the screen, and on both tablets hitting the home button brings up the keyboard, but I've never had it redraw on the Nexus 10 like every other launcher will.

      • abqnm

        Yeah it seems that the assets for the full tablet resolutions are missing but it definitely works. It is not hardware dependent as the article says, but to be fully functional it is library dependent. As long as the proper lib is installed, it works flawlessly (aside from some animation glitches). With the proper lib there is no need to mess with the language setting everytime the launcher is killed and restarted.

        As for redraws, it seems Google has not forced the launcher to be persistent to save ram, as most devices now can draw the launcher in no time at all with all the dual and quad core processors. I just forced the app to remain resident with xposed framework to stop the redraws as my 2gb of RAM can handle it just fine.

        • Kyle Riedemann

          This is very upsetting for me. It seems like Google just wants us to buy a new device every year, which is fine if Nexus devices are going to be more consumer oriented in the future, but the Nexus 7 (2013) is barely 6 months old and they can't confirm that it will get the new experience with the Kit Kat update. If they're going to fragment the software across devices like this then they should stop selling the Nexus 7 and 10 and just release the rumored Nexus 8 already. This just makes nerds like me who care about this too much upset, and would confuse consumers like my mom who would expect the same UX across the same family of devices if they were more of a mass market product.

          • abqnm

            I am sure it will launch to other devices once all the bugs are worked out. It is a brand new home experience. I see it making it to other Nexus devices by 4.4.1 or so. It is also closed source and not a part of AOSP so it may take them a whole to build a solution to update existing devices. That said, they need to at least roll it to all Nexus devices.

          • Kyle Riedemann

            I completely agree. I'm fine with it being phone only for a while and only running on optimized hardware, that being said... I've been using it a Nexus 4 for a week and it's running incredible. So if it doesn't come to the 4 right away when Kit Kat does, that kinda feels a little gross.

          • abqnm

            Yeah no issues here on the Galaxy S3 on AOSP. I also have Qualcomm hardware so I have no issues. I have seen lots of issues when installed on certain phones, most of which seem to be other chipset brands. I am sure it will be released publicly when the libraries are created and and able to be updated without a full OS update.

    • Hartley Spurlock

      No, AOSP builds the stock launcher that we all use now. The new launcher has been ripped from the N5 factory image and added to the ROM/gapps. The no touch commands work, but the S800 actually has the ability to accept voice commands with the screen off like the Moto X, even though the functionality isn't there (yet).

      • jonathan3579

        I hope it is implemented eventually.

      • lbrfabio

        The ASOP stock launcher is the new one but without "Google Now & Voice Always On" integration.
        It's called launcher3.

        • navjot

          Don't understand why someone downvoted this, this man speaks the truth

          • Joseph Glenn Hartley

            So that's true? That means Google messed up the KitKat book on the Google Play Store.

    • Chris

      Have you guys even seen The Verge's hands-on review for the Nexus 5? It's absolute garbage.


      • DC

        That's not a hands-on review. That's just a brief hands-on. I agree that it is BS. But check out the actual review by Josh Topolsky. Quite insightful

        • Chris

          Yes, I know the review you are talking about. The one where he compares the iPhone 5s on numerous occasions with the Nexus 5, and talks about why the Nexus 5 is inferior phone to the iPhone 5s.

      • NeedName

        The verge is balls deep on apple. . . they were before they even started the verge. . . not to mention their site looks like a magazine rack puked on it.

  • dhruva

    you guys are right, its a value ad for nexus 5.

  • c3vzn

    I'm a bit worried what this means for the future of Android. Newer versions of Android may start to get very minimal updates with only the major ones restricted to Nexus devices. This is evil Google, really evil.

    • anezarati

      i agree. this is similar to what that other company did with siri.

      • Adam Truelove

        Yeah, all those other OEMs that make iPhones will never get Siri.

        • Magneira

          He is talking about the older iphones smartass.

          • ronnie d.

            Is that language really called for though young man-child? Grow up...or just fake it 'til you make it!!

        • anezarati

          what are you talking about? Nexus devices are Google devices, just like iPhones are Apple devices. Apple purposely kept Siri on new iPhones even though it was successfully ported to older ones. the new launcher has been shown to work great on the N4 and even other android devices, but Google is purposely keeping it on the N5.

          • mikeym0p

            They didn't backport from the 4s because of hardware enabled noise cancellation and voice filtering only in the 4s+

          • Ishmael Shelton

            It's called "maximizing profits". Can you retrofit your 2010 Lexus with the technology of the 2014 model? Google's objective is to sell the newest models. They can sell as many new phones as they can make. Why would they cut their own throat?

          • Michael Allen

            Not really,googles objective is to get people to see ads and to buy apps. To do that,they want people to use android phones. If they were in it to sell phones,they would never have sold the nexus 4 for 200 dollars. They would have sold it for at least twice that,made 10x as many,and still had them sell just fine. With the nexus phones,google wants to showcase android and what it can do, and get good phones into the hands of developers.

          • Ishmael Shelton

            Google sold nexus 4 for $200 for the same reason that Apple gave free computers to schools. If you bought the 4 you will buy the 5 even at twice the price and you'llwait breathlessly for the 6!

            .Even though people bitch about high prices, they manage to buy what they want! Unfortunately, the most valuable thing most young people own are their cars, cell phones and game consoles.

            You can still see every ad made for android on practically any android device. Google could stop making devices and start charging for updates if they wanted to do so.There are no apps you can buy that are specifically for the Nexus 5. The newest phone, like the newest car, has options that only come with the new product.

    • ursalacyc490

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      • Justin W

        No she didn't.

        Anyone else in this thread - why do I have an edit button for every post?

        • jonathan3579

          It's a glitch. I can't edit or delete any posts despite the fact that the options are there.

          • Justin W

            Weird. It's gone now though.

    • Mario II Valenzuela

      I really doubt the other oem would even place the google launcher on their devices. So their restricting it isn't very "evil" it's just them saying the obvious.

      • Mnoz

        The evil part is that other nexus devices won't be getting it. It's like siri being iPhone4S-exclusive for no apparent reason.

    • Frettfreak

      Oh give me a break! That's absurd. Samsung htc LG even moto all have custom proprietary launchers. Google has fulfilled it's requirements. They delivered the base code to the aosp repository. Then they created a custom launcher based on that and kept it proprietary. Just like every other oem. I say hell yeah if google wants to start it's own spin on base android code.

      • Freak4Dell

        We're not worried about this affecting Android as a whole. Other OEMs will keep putting their skins on the devices, so it doesn't really matter what it does to Android. We're worried about what it's doing to the Nexus line. This is essentially taking features that are perfectly capable of working on the old Nexus devices and restricting them to a new Nexus device. Google has never done this before (barring true hardware limitations), so it's scary to see them start doing it now.

        • Michael

          Exactly. I was really excited to get it on my Nexus 4. :(

        • miri

          Were it something other than the launcher, then maybe you'd have a point.

        • Sir Oliver

          "We're worried about what it's doing to the Nexus line."
          I'm in fact happy that my Nexux 4 will not get 5's Launcher with 4.4. upgrade. Some like it , but I simply hate the idea that the first screen on the left is ALWAYS G.Now. No, I don't want it there, I want things I keep on the first left screen to be on the first left screen.

          If Google had made that optional, ok, but to force everybody? No thanks!

          • Mnoz

            They could've easily provided both the new and old launcher for older nexus devices.

          • Guest

            You can actually turn off that screen and when you scroll as far left as you can it just will bounce back and not let it go anywhere and just launch NOW as you usually do.

          • Sir Oliver

            If it's true, that,s ok, but nobody so far have ver mentioned that. I guess nerds are so fascinated with G-Now that they can't imagine anybody not using it. But hey, not everybody does, not to mention that if you live outside of US, G.Now is not so helpfull (except for depleting the battery ;)

          • a.d.AM

            I thought the same thing until i got my N5. I like it so much better now just going to the right for some reason.

          • Freak4Dell

            That's what custom launchers are for.

          • Paulo Pavačić

            You can disable it.

          • Dan

            It's optional. Calm the hell down.

          • youreasumbass

            it IS optional, dumbass. get a grip.

          • youreasumbass

            it IS optional. fool.

        • Frettfreak

          I see your point but really the argument is pointless. The nexus 4 and gnex for that matter are NEXUS devices and the launcher is already working on those, so you have a way to get it. I still don't think there is a problem. Newer versions of sense and touchwiz don't go down to previously capable phones either. It sucks yes. But really, most people will upgrade before it's really an issue anyway.

      • Drome

        you didnt hear people complaining about photosphere being nexus only

        • pervbear

          Other then playing with it when it came out I hardly know anyone who has ever really used photoshpere , thenapk was really available and people still only messed with it a tiny then stopped using. It really isn't a very useful thing. This is.

          • Jachym Kokesh Lukes

            Why? Others can make their launcher listen and than start Google Now I would think...

          • osi

            I use PhotoSphere quite frequently. I travel a lot, and it is a great way for me to share my experiences with friends and family. Of course, I also take "standard" photos, but I really enjoy sphere.

          • Samuel Horne

            That's a load of crap. It's one of the few things that puts the Nexus line at a higher place compared to normal Android phones.

        • Stacey Liu

          Because that's a pretty minor feature. You use the launcher everyday.

    • NF

      This is hardly evil. It's not ideal, but it is done by other manufacturers to sell their products. Look at the Moto X applications that are device specific. I feel that it is a conflict of interest since Google is providing the software open source, but they've been consolidating for a while. Many stock apps are now replaced by Google specific and updatable apps.

      Still, there is a purpose to updating the firmware. That's what Android the OS is: some firmware and a kernel. It provides system wide UI and internal improvements. Nexus devices getting special features are simply top-level software improvements. It's hardly different.

    • Zak Taccardi

      They are testing it with the nexus 5. What is wrong with that? it's basically a beta program

      • Ben Laserlove

        Precisely. It's like Android 3.0, trying stuff out before it gets out to most other phones.

    • mikeym0p

      You have to think of Android like Linux is to computers. It's a base operating system, it may soon merge with mainline linux making computers and mobile devices one platform.
      GPE, seems like an effort to make a Google Propriatary spin on Android. It's their way to be total control over the software and hardware like they've been speaking of. You still have an open source OS, and the ability to easily switch to a completely Open Source platform (okay, save for the Binaries, for now.)

      I completely agree with Frettfreak.

    • NinoBr0wn

      Evil? Really?

    • Ike

      Sadly 72 people are as retarded as you.

    • Adam Truelove

      I agree, this is a major departure from the way they've always done things. They've never held back features to the Nexus line before. It seems they're starting to do that.

    • popi

      TOTALLY agree. Really concerned about the future of Android. If things like this keep happening, i might just jump the bridge and get the iPhone. One of the reasons i like Nexus devices are because the updates are available right away they are released by Google, with all the goodies. If i wanted to be restricted to X device if i want X feature, i would stick to Apple. And who they want to fool, thats one of the best things the Nexus line, if they remove that, they are no better than Apple, and we all know that the integration between Apple's software and hardware are better than Google's. With less resources, the iPhone is as fast as any Android phone out there. Thats because the software really is optimized to run on that platform.

  • raskob

    How weird considering I am running it on my Nexus 4 right now.

  • jamaall

    Big question: when I get kitkat on my droid MAXX, will I get the Google experience launcher? Guess I'll have to wait and find out

    • Mariolego Carboro

      No, you will get gingerbread

  • brkshr

    I have the N5 and I don't think the launcher is that great. I wouldn't worry about it guys. I would probably even switch back to a regular AOSP type launcher when they are 4.4 compatible/optimized.

    • Jadephyre

      Which i'm sure they will be soon.
      Also, I bet they'll implement the transparency on the statusbar and the control bar on the bottom (always forgetting its name, sorry).

      • brkshr

        Navigation bar ;-)...

        Ya, I'm sure they will bring all the new UI improvements with it. I would really like the old center homescreen setup back though.

        • Jadephyre

          Same, I have my main screen in the middle, and then the utilities on the left and right. Swiping to the left screen to start GoogleNow/Search reminds me too much of the search function on iOS.
          Which is another thing... earlier it was iOS that was copying features from Android left and right, now all of sudden it's the other way 'round, I don't quite like that.

      • MyLeftNut

        Actually even now if you have an firmware that supports transparent status bar then you can enable that feature in Nova. On my Note 2 I have transparent status bar enabled and I have my clock hidden since I have a UCCW widgets that gives me all that info. Third party launchers are great. Just give them time to update and they'll be even more feature rich than the Google Experience.

    • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

      I thought if you went into settings you could change it back to the old stock launcher...

      • brkshr

        You can, but you lose Google Now completely.

  • whispy_snippet

    This is absolutely insane.


    How do you get that search bar it doesn't look like that on my Nexus 5? Thanks


    The Google Launcher as mentioned is basically google search now brought to the homescreen, so its like opening google search app and saying ok google which works on any phone but now because google search is the homescreen and google search is always open you dont have to tap anything to say ok google. SO its NOT HARDWARE DEPENDENT. Get it? IMO lol. BUT I really hope google actually takes advntage of always listening mode off Snapdragon 800 with screen off if there are enough request they will.

  • heat361

    If true I don't like this, Google even said it themselves the point of the nexus line is that people get timely updates, IMO not including the launcher for other nexus owners is not cool at all.

  • vitriolix

    Its in AOSP and I am running it on my Galaxy Nexus. This story is weird.

    • Ryuuie

      You're running a ROM taken from bits of the Nexus 5's factory image. That's not AOSP.

    • Phil Oakley

      The Google Experience launcher is not in AOSP.

  • Algar

    KitKat is "supposedly" able to work on older devices with less RAM... but then it wasn't released for older Nexus devices. But Wait - Google could get around that by releasing the Google Experience Launcher on Play... Except now they won't. I don't get it.

  • Danny Kees

    Kinda crappy way to push Nexus 5 sales in my opinion. But whatever, I'm using it my 2012 Nexus 7 now. Doesn't really apply to most of us that come here to Android Police lol.

    • POV121

      Driving others to Apple

      • Danny Kees

        Why do you say that?

  • GreyCelt_PDX

    I am running the Google Experience Launcher on my ancient HTC Evo V 4G (the Evo 3D re-branded for Virgin Mobile USA) and it runs great! Auto voice command saying "OK Google" from the home screen works too! I don't see why they would only keep it on the Nexus 5. Sure, it doesn't have some of the features built into other launchers like Nova, but it works great and I almost feel like I have a whole new phone!

    • CoreRooted

      The hotword detection is running full time on GEL. So, devices that aren't on the new chipset will chew through battery like it's candy. I had it running on my 4.3.1 S3 and even with my 7000 mAh battery, GEL consumed about 35% battery in less than an hour just sitting there listening.

  • Tom Erlandsen

    This makes no sense.

    I suspect when Google said they're not sure about whether they're going to offer it to "other" devices, they intended "other" to mean non-Nexus. Allowing users to get rid of TouchWiz, Sense, etc, in favour of the new GEL would no doubt piss off hardware manufacturers, and I imagine Google needs more time to think through the politics of this. I think it's unlikely we'll see a Play Store release for the launcher (as either a standalone app or a Google Search update) in the near future, but I'd eat my hat if it didn't come to the Nexus 4 with the 4.4 update.

    At least, I'm praying this is the case. Please don't let me be wrong, Google.

    • POV121

      At least let Galaxy Nexus owners get something. The company says it wants KitKat toothed masses and made it so lower end phones can get it yet the GNex can't? I call BS

      • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

        It's about TI not being in this business any more and thus no support from them. Without that, Google can't really do much about the binaries and stuff.

        • Stacey Liu

          That's an excuse we've made for Google through speculation. Unless it's cited as the official reason, we can't assume that to be true.

  • Ryan Dickie

    I have 4.4 on my GNex (Toro) and N7 (Grouper) and have already gone back to Nova Prime. Still lightning fast like the new launcher, but with the bells and whistles that I've come to love / need.

  • Nick Tsiotinos

    I've installed the N5 launcher on the Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Note 3. It works ok - but as far as I'm concerned its a waste of time. It is not very customisable and the much touted "touchless" search gets in the way of things by bringing up the keyboard every time you get to the home screen because the search bar has the focus all the time. I much prefer the flexibility of Nova Launcher. And is swiping up from below such a hard thing to remember to bring up Google Now??

  • Jays2Kings

    "At least some of those features, like the touchless voice command on the homescreen, are hardware-dependent."

    Can't agree with this since I have a 2012 Nexus 7 on 4.4 (custom ROM) and a Verizon GNex on 4.3 (also custom ROM), both sideloaded with the new GEL and both have that option. As Ron mentioned, the launcher is basically Google Search. All devices 4.1+ can hotword search in Google Now, so if the launcher is part of Google Now/Search, there's no way it's a hardware thing, unless it was actually like Moto X where it the hotword works outside the homescreen, and screen off.

  • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

    Fuck you too Google.

    • POV121

      Hello iPhone.

      • Jadephyre

        Exchanging one walled garden where you can walk relatively unhindered for one where they shove a leash up your ass? No thanks.

      • Arthur Dent

        Don't let the door hit you in the ass....

      • sabby

        no it wont respond to you like google now :P

    • navjot

      Eh, I think the Verge is looking at it in the wrong way. It'll probably be the same way the AOSP browser continued to ship with the Galaxy Nexus even though the Nexus 4 shipped with Chrome. The launcher is exclusive to the Nexus 5 for now, but when they end up updating Google Search in the Play Store, the launcher will probably be there as well. So it doesn't ship with older Nexus devices but it is still available to download. This could be because regular users can get confused when they update their devices and it asks them to choose a default launcher (we don't want to confuse users with too many options now, right Matt? ;P ).

      Otherwise, why would they add launcher3 code to AOSP? The Google Search app is proprietary, after all, so they didn't have to make the launcher open source if they planned on having launcher2 as default on other devices.

      • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

        If that's true it will be fine, I'm just going off what the article seems to say/imply.

        Also, this isn't the only problem with 4.4. There's the OTA not releasing with the N5 goign on sale, the Nexus 10 not getting what will probably be remembered as the signature change for KitKat (transparent status bar), the GNex losing support, and now potentially this.

      • Ryuuie

        The problem is that the manual itself states that the launcher changes is only on the Nexus 5 and no other phone.

        Also, if they DID update the Search app, it'd still put a launcher inside of phones that OEMs and carriers will not like simply because it will be seen as "Google is forcing themselves on us!"

        The only way for Google to "win" is to keep it on the Nexus devices, not push to other phones...however, they don't seem to want to do this.

    • Arthur Dent

      Oh cry me a river. Jeezus, this is over the top.

      • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

        It's four words. Chill man.

        • Arthur Dent

          The one cussing out a corporation over their decision on how they want to release a launcher is probably the one that needs to chillax.

          • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

            Well, there's also the delayed OTA release and the exclusion of transparent status bars on the n10 (and the general lack of attention that device gets).

            You're right though. How dare someone express their dissatisfaction with High God Google.

          • Cheeseball

            Maybe if they didn't go with the shitty Exynos SoC (which Samsung is still limiting developer support for even though it's a Nexus device) it would have better support and attention.

  • sivakiran33

    There are many great launchers. Which look better than pure Android http://www.zackable.com/android/download-best-themes-galaxy-s4-note-2-large-screen-devices/
    Instead of admiring and waiting for pure Android exp, using 3rd party apps is best

    • Christopher Bement

      "Best" is entirely your opinion.


    Not so brilliant after all...

  • POV121

    Android disappoints again

  • Michael

    This is actually really depressing. Why can't the Nexus devices get the new launcher and theme, at the very least? I feel cheated. :(

    • whispy_snippet


  • selonmoi

    Don't be Apple...errrr... you know.

  • cy_n_ic

    Everyone is going to slap nova or apex on first chance possible. Why such a big deal over this?

  • Michael Castle

    I'm currently using the "Google Experience" launcher on my Verizon branded Samsung Galaxy S4. You can too... Simply visit the Phandroid site and look for the link to download it and the supporting software, there will be 3 files you'll have to download.

  • Gordon Lutz

    I have this working on my non-rooted Nexus 4.

  • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

    I'm a little confused. It looks just like the regular VA I have on my N4. What's different?

    • Sabin Bajracharya

      Maybe your using the AOSP rom! When the offical updates arrives, then maybe you wont have Nexus 5 launcher!

      • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

        I have the standard ROM that came with my Nexus.

  • NF

    While this may be disappointing news, I do not personally mind. I've been playing around with other launchers like Aviate.

  • owen wilson

    I have PAs AOSP build of 4.4 running on the nexus 4 and both Google now and "OK Google" voice command work. Is there more to the Google experience on the nexus 5?

  • zaoqi

    oh my god. this 5.0 inch Android 4.2 Galaxy S4 smartphone looks so ugly, and so big. my hand can't hold it. but it's the most popular phone in the world. all my my

    friends have one. its price is low, do you think so? why it is so popular? why? can you help me make sure? i want to buy one to have a try: http://baidurl.cn/1bs5

  • Toinou

    Great. Keep it that way. I tried it on my Xperia Z and my God is that a terrible launcher. There are others that are way much better out there. We don't need your ugly (in every aspects) "experience", Google.

  • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

    Somehow I feel that, if they say it won't come to any device other than the Nexus 5, then it is also another kick in the balls to Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2012) and Nexus 7 (2013) owners (GNex got their balls kicked so hard without KitKat in the first place!).
    At least, loyal, faithful Nexus owners deserve a taste of a uniform KitKat (and launcher) experience available on the Nexus 5. Don't anyone DARE tell me that the APQ8064 SoC (Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz quad-core) is NOT READY / OBSOLETE for this update.

    The Nexus 4 shall remain a powerful device for another 2 years at least!

    • mikeym0p

      First year is good, second year you start wanting more ram and battery. Replace battery, good for another year. Phone starts to slow down, and you have to wait for AOSP backports. Than new device time.

      • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

        Not so for the Nexus 4.
        More RAM? No, I'm good with 2 GB.
        More speed? No, S4 Pro is one of the best there is.
        Battery? I doubt the one on Nexus 5 will be any better.

        • mikeym0p

          I'm talking about the future, this was a pattern I saw with most phones. Samsung is already toying with 4gib of ram so the other OEMs will be forced to follow through.
          Speed of RAM is a big factor too, Android might reach a point where we will want faster RAM and not more RAM.

          We'll see where we are in a year, I'm hoping for the best too. The N4 most definitely has some life in it still. But I still stand by my predictions.

    • whispy_snippet

      It's a massive kick in the balls.

  • Hamza Javed
  • jurrabi

    Who has it can tell you. It's no big deal.
    The "experience" is more or less what you get with any other phone with search and as a launcher it is quite basic.
    I don't see that "ton of features" you talk about...

  • Milty C

    Yeah Im calling BS aswell. Google has a history of denying things right up until release. They are totally paranoid about being seen to fail at reaching a goal.

  • droid4lif3

    I have my Verizon GNex on 4.4, no thanks to Google and Verizon, and it has this launcher installed. I personally prefer nova launcher even though its cool to say "ok google" from my homescreen and start searching.

  • mystilleef

    WTF is wrong with Google?

  • Mystery Man

    So when google edition One and S4 get updated to 4.4 they will have what launcher?

  • droid4lif3

    Why are the icons blue on the status bar. The ones on my phone are white.

  • jan klassan

    Too bad for Google cos ive been using it for the past 5 days on my nexus 4 and it hasn't crashed once, anyone with a nexus4 that really wants this luncher has it already.

  • dan

    Yet we still have to instal an app from the play store in order to see the battery percentage in the status bar !!!

  • James Bowker

    I have it running on my Note 2 and I really like it (apart from the huge icons).
    I think they should do a similar thing with Google + and maybe Gmail so you can keep swiping left to access those apps in fullscreen. It will be able to be turned off for those who don't like it!

  • Manohar Viswanatha

    atleast the nexus breed should be spared

  • Kuyam

    The launcher is fine, but I can't get over the fact that when you update an app the icon on the homescreen dissappears. Major derp imho.

  • ojdon

    A little bit of vomit came up then... :/

  • http://www.ebog.me/ ebog

    The features of this new update looks quite attractive and bring new experiences sudden, I really look forward very much there for my phone.

  • Curt Robinson

    Download the apk? I have the launcher and it works perfectly fine just like above on my S4...

    • runderekrun

      Exactly. This just means they aren't releasing it on the Play Store just yet. You will easily be able to sideload it.

      • jimmyamazingz

        But as nexus owners we shouldn't have to sideload an apk to get the newest from Google. It's a big reason why we buy nexus.

        • runderekrun

          Who says you shouldn't? Who promised you'd have the newest from Google? Maybe it was implied or something but Google never promised this. As others are saying, it is very likely a "beta situation" which this launcher. They are not ready for everyone to use it. So just people that know how to sideload and nexus 5 owners.

          • jimmyamazingz

            I understand what they are doing and why I'm just pointing out why people are upset. I have already side loaded it on all my devices. I'm just saying the point of nexus is timely updates to the newest software for their users and now we don't have the newest. That's being used as a carrot on a sick to get two buy the new phone.

          • runderekrun

            I really don't think Google cares if you buy a new phone or not. They make no money off their hardware sales. They make money off your data and ads and it doesn't matter which Android device you use.

            Also, I don't understand where this entitlement comes from. Why are we entitled to a day one update for our Nexus 4s? Why do we feel entitled to a update for our Galaxy Nexus' out of the 18 month update period Google states up front that they will support the device? Google fulfilled its promise and it's not like they are hiding that fact.

          • jimmyamazingz

            I will concede to the monetization point. Google takes an almost $0 profit margin on their device. However I'm not expecting a day one update but I was expecting the update to the newest software. I agree with the update period thing as well. They don't have to support out of date hardware but my 2013 nexus 7 should be able to get it no?

            I'm not demanding anything from Google and I'm not expecting day one upgrades. I am more than happy with my nexus products. We were just led to believe that the n5 launcher was 4.4 so that's what I expected for my n7 so I don't want to have to side load it. It is no fault of Google they just didn't expressly say it so we assumed.

          • runderekrun

            Yeah I understand where you are coming from.

          • jimmyamazingz

            In glad we understand each other and this didn't become some crazy internet argument haha.

  • Alberto Blasi

    Can anybody explain to me how this launcher will be missed anyway? Icons are so big it makes my phone look like my granny's phone. There are no folders in the drawer, nor you can hide apps. You have to scroll forever to find an app or a widget (which you add the same way you did in froyo), every time you select one the app or widget drawers go back to page one so you have to scroll forever again. You cannot change the order of the homescreen pages nor you can choose the default one. The new font is a condensed one, which is way less readable. Gestures are not supported. The search bar can't be removed. Icons, which by the way are fat, ugly (check the new settings icon for example) and inconsistent (there's no icon as big as another one, even those that are just a colored square with a g in it) can't be changed. Background for folders is white, background for the app drawer is semitransparent black and background for the widget drawer is white with a gradient for every tile. And so on.
    So why is everyone desperate? Is it just because it says "Google" on the tin?

    • Gunde

      Exactly. It was never able to compete with the best third-party launchers anyway. And there will soon be new ones mimicking many of the new features. No big loss.

    • Ryuuie

      Are you using a Nexus 5? Because, I think the icons on the 5 aren't large.

      The reason why it's large on everyone else's phone is because it's not designed for their device.

  • Jason Bailey

    Not really a problem, anyone who wants it will just install the apk from xda

  • RSerda

    so lame.. we probably won't see 4.4 until after the first of the year at this point.. they are building up the differentiation WITHIN the Nexus family... wtf?! I feel like I'm on a Samsung platform on ATT...?!?!? instead of an N4..?!?!?

  • Scott Hendry

    o rly? surely someone at google reads this blog, xda, and others and sees that we're willing to hack things together just to get this launcher. give us an official apk already.

  • Fitzelgard Allan Gerard

    Don't do this Google, I need a legacy to pass down to my fruit of my loins.

  • Miah

    This is where the XDA Community come in! :)

  • glitchsys

    Being a nexus and 'stock' Android, wouldn't the new launcher and the new google now search apk all be in AOSP? I mean, wouldn't CM, AOKP, etc. all be able to compile and integrate it?

    • jibust

      No, you are mixing Nexus builds with AOSP. The official factory build for Nexus devices is a combination of AOSP with Google's own code (which is not free). If you were to run a pure AOSP experience on your Nexus you'd end up with zero Google Apps. Also, since the Google Apps are not open source, the community cannot compile, they can distribute it as a Gapps package which is just a backup. Seeing as CM is trying to suck up to Google, I doubt you will see it included in their gapps.

  • Cory Wilson

    So what launcher are us previous nexus owners getting? Boring old ICS launcher with 5 fixed home screens and an ugly white bar on the dock?

  • Roh_Mish

    I actually dont like the app drawer, large icons, the new long-press menu and the homescreen only when icon or widget is put. But the new Google search implimentation and that animation in google search widget above homescreen looks great.

  • Chris

    Give it time people. It won't be long until third-party launchers have this as an optional function. These things just take time.

  • cj

    My friends gs4 has the kit kat launcher and the always listening thing is not working....but mine works like a charm on my galaxy mega 6.3

  • Cody Revels

    I'm not sure why everyone says the 'Ok google' command is Nexus 5 only or hardware dependent. It works perfectly fine on my Gnex.

    • Jared

      And on my S4. I really like the new launcher, and it's worked flawless so far.

    • miri

      Nexus 5 only because it doesn't [naturally] come with 4.4, it's just a part of the Nexus 5's stock ROM for the time being.

  • Jon

    I installed this on my GNex a few days ago and love it, but I got a new Moto X on Monday. If I install this on my MX would it supersede the native always listening "OK Google Now" voice action, specifically for when the device is locked? And would it affect the active notifications feature? If so I'll probably just wait for 4.4 to be released, I like these features too much after only a couple days of use.

  • szabox

    i tried this new launcher leaked reacently... If the final one will be the same, i am not gonna regret if i use the basic touchwiz on my s3... Otherwise, i like the leaked n5 laucher, but some gesture functions are missing (eg: homescreen endless scroll)... Lot of ppl hate touchwiz, but somehow, it still a good one... ;-)

  • hossain

    i dont know why it doesnot update on my gs4?????

  • bg15407

    Google is now going From OS fragmentation to Feature Fragmentation i Hate you now google you could not issue a 4.4 for any other nexus what the hell happen to android...replace the head to Andy ruban ...fuck off Sundar pichai ....i own 4 nexus devices will be my last if this continue ...

  • Ja

    "ANDROID 4.4 experience avalible for everyone " yeah sure

  • Brian

    I made this image to commemorate this momentous news!


  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    I don't like what Google has been doing with Android and Nexi recently. I hope they don't make me switch to something else... and the worst thing is that there isn't any ither OS to switch to, really..

    • Frettfreak

      No one is making you do anything. There are tons of oems that make really amazing android products. Get over it or go to another os. When you realize how much better android is, you will be back and happy about it too

  • Brian

    Just to commemorate this discovery.


  • eilegz

    sigh google learning the worst thing about samsung and apple... now we get ios like updates on android and what its worse its that they are treating nexus devices like a galaxy one with fewer updates on devices that are capable of receiving the latest version....

    way to screw up and fragmentation ensures...

  • turboboxer

    Those of you that are fellow custom ROM folks already know we are up and running with this Launcher on our N4s already. Loving Kit Kat so far. I am usually an Apex launcher user but I have been running the Stockified ROM with the best of N5 port and AOSP.

  • Jakob Wångö

    I think its a great new breath to android ;) I expected it also to come with Kitkat, not after..
    But im running it on my N4 and it works great. The only thing that i dont like is that the icons is not optimised for smaller screens, so its a bit blurry. But i guess it will be fixed when google releases the launcher.

  • CJ

    Wiggity whack

  • votdfak

    Punk ass move by big G. I am just waiting for bigger screen on iPhone to go back. First they took a dump on Galaxy Nexus, and now Nexus 4. WTF Google?

  • Testraindrop

    It's only a Launcher... why the fuss about it.

    There is absolutely nothing special apart from the Google Now integration.
    "OK Google" is hardware dependent anyway.

  • Bob

    So what is the point of buying a Nexus these days? You only get 18 months update support, and now it seems you don't even get the full update. Sure, right now it's a launcher - and not everyone even likes the launcher - but the bigger point is that Nexus devices - even within their now-pathetically-short support window - no longer get full support. Ongoing support was once their selling point. Now they've got what... low price? I'd rather pay more and get a device that will be supported.

  • John R. Kupel

    I find this funny considering that I already have it running on my Samsung Galaxy Rush running Android 4.1.2 JB, it's very nice with full voice activation working when you say "Ok Google" :D

  • Troy Knox

    It doesn't work on my nexus 5.. Why?

  • Gonzalo

    I got the GEL the same day of its release. I think Google it's just playing the innocent in front of LG and leaving the real work for developers.

  • Alex

    Considering the Nexus line is meant as "testing" or "experimental" devices, who's to say the launcher isn't been trialed on the N5?

  • bradhan12

    Already running it on my AT&T 4.3 GS4. Stock, unrooted. Just downloaded the version pulled from the N5 dump earlier this month. Runs like a dream. Not that hard for anyone with sense. And a godsend since I can't even root this GS4 after the MF3 debacle...