13
Nov
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Now that the KitKat update has started rolling out to various Nexus devices, we're, unfortunately, seeing no traces of the Google Experience Launcher, which confirms an earlier report stating as much. No GEL means no transparency in the default and a pretty barebones boring AOSP launcher. It also means no Google Now integration and no "Ok Google" hotword support while on any home screen.

Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-21-11 Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-20-48

Boring Nexus 7 launcher

However, not all is lost. There are several ways to obtain the coveted transparency in the status and navigation bars, and even a way to get GEL and Google Now. The latter doesn't work 100% - there are very minor quirks, but it should satisfy those of you craving Google Experience for the time being.

Since the stock launcher does not seem to come with the transparency flag ticked (seriously, Google?), the solution is to install a secondary launcher.

Note: The Nexus 10 may very well not support transparency at all, as it may have been disabled for performance reasons. We'll see when we get our hands on the OTA.

Nova Launcher

The latest Nova Launcher beta is a great way to go and looks like this:

Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-55-31 Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-55-52

Nova Launcher beta

As you can see, it enables transparency once you tick the appropriate box in the launcher settings and generally matches the KitKat theme pretty well. My favorite differentiating feature (there are many) is a freely scrollable app drawer as opposed to the horrid pagination in Google's own launchers. It's not as bad on tablets, since each screen fits a lot of apps, but on phones I find pagination unbearable.

There is only one problem with Nova, and that is the lack of Google Now home screen integration. If you're into that sort of thing that is - personally, I'm going to stick with Nova.

Google Experience Launcher

Since Google decided the new launcher is going to be exclusive to the Nexus 5 for now, we're going to have to rip it out of there and install manually. The good news is all of the Google Experience Launcher code is already inside Search 3.0, which ships with the KitKat OTA.

The only thing we need to install is a little APK called GoogleHome, a.k.a. Launcher, a.k.a. com.google.android.launcher. This APK weighs 12MB, but don't let that fool you - 99% of the space is occupied by KitKat wallpapers, and only a minimal amount of code is present to enable the entry point into the new launcher.

Before we go on, I have to warn you - while the launcher does work quite well, it's not without flaws. After all, we've ripped it out of a phone and are trying to stick it onto a tablet.

The biggest problem is every time you press Home while in another app, the keyboard pops up for no apparent reason. Pressing Back gets rid of it, but it happens again, which gets annoying rather quickly.

Other very minor niggles are:

  • the Search box is not centered
  • the app drawer icon does not look like the KitKat one on the Nexus 5, probably because the appropriate resource is missing

wm_Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-42-13 wm_Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-41-46

Google Experience Launcher

wm_Screenshot_2013-11-13-01-42-22 wm_Screenshot_2013-11-13-02-38-46

Google Experience Launcher

Still up for it? There's no harm in trying out the launcher either way - if you don't like it, just uninstall the APK you just installed.

Download

Download the APK, install it, then tap Home or go to Settings -> Home for easy launcher management. You will see a new option called Launcher with the blue icon.

File name: com.google.android.launcher-0.9.6.886092.apk.

Version: 0.9.6.886092.

MD5: 9d2a84831bf537a48fc630b8a219fbf4.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108482452903817442299/posts Andrew Bone

    I've been giving people the home and Now apk's from my N5 and they have got them working on an N4 S4 and HTC one :-D

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, that works. The difference is now you don't need the Search/Now APK, so it's even easier. We also didn't know how well it would work on tablets (as you can see, there are issues).

    • scsharp

      Would you mind sharing it with me

  • Ambroos

    Oh Artem, pagination (and fixed positions) are key to muscle memory!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      15 pages later to get to YouTube, you will want to throw it out the window. Well, the phone anyway, as I mentioned, it's not as bad on tablets.

      This is a much better approach anyway: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=name.pilgr.appdialer. I now can't live without it. Similar to Launchy on Windows.

      • Milind Shah

        umm Artem, in Nova, there is an option to have continous scrolling in app drawers and home screens, so you could do that...and Youtube will be one swipe away then!

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Did I say Nova didn't have that? Please re-read the relevant bit in the post. @Ambroos was talking about the Google launcher.

          • Milind Shah

            well you did say you hate pagination in the post, and you said above that you hate scrolling 15 pages...so :P

          • USSENTERNCC1701E

            "My favorite differentiating feature (there are many) is a freely scrollable app drawer as opposed to the horrid pagination in Google's own launchers." I think this is what he was referencing.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Right, which is why I use Nova :-]

          • Roberto Ingrosso

            I always thought that the Android team just sees the app drawer as a list of the installed app to use to just pick an icon and put on an home screen. In other words, if you use frequently Youtube, you should put it somewhere on the home screen.

            That's how i use my home screen and app drawer, I'm not saying that's the right thing to do or tha Google is absolutely right on this matter.

      • USSENTERNCC1701E

        I just hide all the irrelevant icons and my root apps (have them in @pp bar). What's left over takes up three rows, nothing to paginate.

      • Ambroos

        The cool thing about pagination with custom/fixed locations (not auto-alphabetic) is that you really do learn on what page and where apps are. I don't mind if apps are in the upper right corner on the fifth page because I passively know they're there. If your apps move all the time or if you don't have fixed scroll positions you can't blindly reach those.

        That App Dialer looks nice too, gotta try that some day.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Sorry but that's not a legitimate reason. We're talking about the app drawer, not the home screens here. If you install a single app the starts with A, your whole strategy goes out the window as every app's position has now shifted.

          • The Motto

            Don't underestimate muscle memory (as this is basically what Ambroos is talking about) but yes we have all launched the wrong apps when installing a new A-something app..

      • Sergio

        Wow, with 15 pages It will take some time to find an app even with a scrolling drawer... Have you thought of making some groups? I love this feature from Nova Pro...

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          That's what I use the home screens for.

  • herbivoor

    Something something fragmentation something.

    • Jason

      It's not fragmentation, apps works regardless of what laucher you have. Do you even know what Fragmentation means? (Aside from what Apple told you..)

      In fact on the topic, Apple play this game every release of iOS, and nobody bats an eyelid. iOS7 features are different depending on your iPhone, ditto for iOS6 and iOS5.

      Some people need to stop acting like spoilt children. You have two solutions on day one, and in the future there may be a official solution.

      • PhoenixPath

        Oh geez...one of the most front-facing features of the latest Nexus won't be officially available on any other Nexus.

        You bet your ass people are going to complain about it. There's a *huge* difference between being a spoiled brat and expecting this release to follow the same lines as every single release prior.

        Want to whine about the complaining? Let Google have it. Give it to 'em good, man. After all, they are the one's who set the expectations.

  • Milind Shah

    The search bar not being in the middle hurts my OCD.

    • Mado

      You don't have OCD.

  • Bruno Marangoni

    Sure it works. In addition to the visual change, the new Android Kit Kat offers support for translucent bars. That's why installing the new launcher works.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Right. (Except for the Nexus 10. Though unconfirmed until we see the update.)

  • Stranger from a Far Coast

    This further fragmentates the ecosystem of Android smartphones by leaving the good and latest stuff for the newer devices. Samsung does it and now Google too.

    Android didn't kept their promise about killing off fragmentation!

    • Bruno Marangoni

      Agree. Unfortunately, for us, Nexus users, they broke the promise of updates (at least with full features and equal to all devices). I think they are trying to kill the fragmentation not in the Android's version, but in softwares version. They know other companies don't care much about Android updates, so Google just throw updates on Play Store and everyone will have the most recent app version.

      Sorry if I wrote something wrong, English isn't my native language.

      • TheLastAngel

        Yeah, until the next play store release of the launcher only supports devices with 5.0 and up. Mark my words.

        • Bruno Marangoni

          I truly hope not.

        • Guest

          Don't forget the next play store app will only be available on Nexus 6 and older Nexus users won't be able to get all apps unless they sideload them from external sources :)

    • Jason

      How is this fragmentation? Please explain what ir prevents.

      • Stranger from a Far Coast

        A fragmentation within an android version. Feature like GE Launcher is missing in Nexus 7's 4.4 from Nexus 5. Same can be applied to G Note 3's new SNote missing in Note 2 in 4.3. It's what Apple, Samsung and now Google is doing. Rather than avoiding this nasty fragmentation from what IOS is doing to their devices, Google rather support the idea.

        • Stranger from a Far Coast

          However all is not lost, if Google really promises that the GE Launcher will be available soon (hopefully via PlayStore), then there is still hope for Google.

    • The Motto

      Well you can either try and reduce fragmentation or simply make it irrelevant. Fragmentation is not a problem for the end user per say, its a developer problem. What Google have done is to move API's and frameworks that used to rely on core OS functions to the Play Services Framework (take the google location services api) meaning 99,9% of devices can use them. Fragmentation is becoming a less relevant problem for Android. Yes the user facing "fragmentation" (UI differences) is still there but that is a good thing as we have more competition from OEM's because they can make Android their "own". Look what happened to Windows Phone.

    • Adrian Meredith

      the launcher has nothing to do with the ecosystem.

  • Alice

    Why Google have to make this appears as the Nexus 5's exclusive interface or features. It doesn't make any sense, especially to the users who had any other Nexus devices!

  • Alberto Blasi

    God those enormous icons in GEL are awful. As if Google ever had some design consistency among them and it felt the need to show them off.

    • wideopn11

      If you have a nexus 5 just change the dpi in your build prop from 480 down to 445. Fixed.

      • NWSD

        Sorry, new to android. I have a nexus 5..... where is the build prop in the settings to reduce icon size? Or is this referring to a phone that is rooted? Thanks

        • turdbogls

          Its for root. also, not only does it change icon size, it changes the size of EVERYTHING. text, navigation/status bars and their icons ect.

          easiest solution is to download an alternate launcher.

          i for one actually really like the larger icons....i have been increasing the icon size on my home screens for the past year+

          • DannyDPX

            Bigger icons? Then this would be just the thing for you ;) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gabetaubman.giganticon

          • turdbogls

            haha....love it. those are a little too big though.
            google hit the sweet spot with icon size IMO. they look great.

            this would be a nice in car setup though.

          • bprichard

            I absolutely love Giganticon. I have a huge Play Music Icon on my immediate left lockscreen. Looks nice!

  • mystilleef

    How about Google just fucking put the launcher on all Nexus devices. There's a reason many of us choose to use, buy, support and recommend Nexus devices. We want a CONSISTENT experience across all our devices. Cherry picking features per device is lame!

    Kit Kat has got to be the worst Android release in recent times. Get it together Google. After Rubin and JBQ left, it seems as if there's a lack of coherency on the Android and Nexus teams. This is just an obviously brain dead strategy. Nobody is going to buy a Nexus 5 because it has a special launcher.

    • Russ

      If you got an OTA update that replaced the launcher, your homescreen settings would be gone, that's something that would piss off a non techie user and something they'd probably like to avoid.

      • mystilleef

        How so? This is no different than how the launcher has always been updated. The new launcher supports the same widgets and icons the old launcher does. It only adds new features none of which break anything the old launcher does.

        • Russ

          Because it isn't the same. Up until now the launcher has been "com.android.launcher2" and it's now "com.google.android.launcher" a different process with different settings

          • mystilleef

            Android's storage layer is application and service independent so this is not an issue at all. Many third party launchers provide the option to use, or import, settings from the stock launcher and have been doing so for years.

          • Evan Knofsky

            Except when importing from those other launchers you have to re-select your widgets, Google already stated they wanted to see the reactions to the GEL before they would consider rolling it out to other devices.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            Source?

          • PhoenixPath

            One problem with your reasoning:

            Updating from Launcher2 (4.3) to Launcher3 (4.4) works a treat.

            So why not with GoogleHome? You don't think Google could pull it off?

            Please...

          • PhoenixPath

            ..

        • pubmk

          I actually installed the APK on my VZW GNEX and I switched it back because my wallpaper didn't fit anymore. Also, the icons are humongous.

          • Carlos Plascencia

            Exactly the same on my Moto X

      • Bojan Gutic

        If you install this launcher on a Nexus 4, it keeps all of your homescreens and widgets exactly as they were before. It moves the middle one to the far left though, and puts Google now to the panel to the left of it.

        There was no re-setting up required.

        • Klappa

          Something went wrong with mine. I only got 2 starts creeps now down from five in the AOSP.

      • Tahsin Ahmed

        How about a little intro after updating and restarting the phone? Just like the little infos show up when you first boot the phone.

        • Dianne Hackborn

          Which takes additional work to implement, which may be a lower-priority than getting software ready for a new device with a hard schedule.

          It should be pretty obvious -- shipping a new device with a new software that starting fresh is different than shipping a software update to existing users. If you are going to *force* a change like this on top existing users, you better have that transition as smooth and clear as possible, and that takes work.

      • whispy_snippet

        This is true, but why not give an option to users and bury it in settings? Easy.

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108482452903817442299/posts Andrew Bone

      I think it's worth noting the Nexus line is designed to push Android forward if this launcher works and N5 users love it then google actually has something to compete with touchwiz and sense and in time can even push the launcher out to devices, if anything we have exciting times ahead

      • mystilleef

        I don't mean to be a pessimist, but I don't share your excitement. I'm worried Google is going to start doing per device/platform exclusive features (see Hangouts). The core of the Nexus fanbase are enthusiasts and developers. They'll be more than happy to help push Android forward on all Nexus devices.

        • dan

          GEL is simply not ready to run on tablets. Be patient. Keep in mind 4.3 was released less than six months ago, progress takes time

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

            If this is the case, then Google needs to abandon the culture of releasing half baked products. They've been doing this a lot lately. How about release software only after it works and runs well on all their supported devices and platforms. Then push the updates out at the same time.

            Apple does this to high praise and customer satisfaction. When Apple released iMessage, it had the same feature set and worked across all their platforms. Everyone got it at the same time.

            Contrast that with the disaster that is Hangouts. iOS has different features that Android doesn't have and vice versa. On Android, the phones have certain features the tablets don't. The web version also has a different feature set.

            It's a mess. It shows they don't have their ducks in a row. Most importantly, it creates a terrible user experience for people who use hangouts.

            It's almost as if they lack the discipline to get everything right before releasing it to the world. What's the rush? Hangouts has the potential to give iMessage and WhatsApp a run for their money. But it's a little too late now, because the first impression sucked.

            Just sad.

          • Tarun Pemmaraju

            iOS also has feature exclusivity on newer devices (Siri, Air Drop etc)

          • brkshr

            Exactly what I was going to say.

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

            The disappointment is feature parity not exclusivity. All Nexus devices from the past 3 years can run the new launcher without issues. Yet Google deliberately chose to cripple, I hope temporarily, the launcher on some Nexus devices for no valid reason.

          • Matthew Fry

            I've felt like this since I got my Nexus 10, one of the most half baked experiences I've ever had and it's no better now. 4.3 stopped *some* of the inexplicable rebooting but introduced a copy/paste bug that trumps the annoyance of the reboots. Basically, it just doesn't work. If it wasn't for that ridiculously gorgeous screen and front facing speakers, I'd have gotten rid of it long ago.

          • fzammetti

            It's an an engineer-driven culture (Google) versus a marketing-driven culture (Apple) thing. Engineers, typically, have less discipline and are more interested in building new and exciting features than providing the best user experience across-the-board.

            I know this because I've been a software engineer for almost 25 years now.

      • Matthew Fry

        How is it devalued in any way as a competitive product by making it available on their other Nexus devices?

    • Gabriel Melo

      I am definetely an android guy. Since Froyo times to my GNex and Nexus 4, i have experienced the evolution Android ran through. Altough this particular KK update just pissed me off. When at the office, an Apple-lover coworker was waching Apple's Keynote where they announced Mavericks. And he was commenting about how the update simply worked. From day zero, available for the most recent computers and backwards compatible all the way to 2007. So I start to read about "making the android experience available to everyone" and what do we receive? Exclusive features - screw other Nexus' devices owners. Look at this article on AP. We are discussing workarounds for something Google could so simply deliver. I'm pretty embarassed, really. When asked why this coworker stuck to Apple for so long, he replied "It just works". Sadly I can't say the same about this KK update.

      • mystilleef

        Unfortunately, I have to agree. There's a laundry list of bad decisions this release cycle.

        I'm holding off recommending Nexus devices after the whole 18 month support fiasco with the Galaxy Nexus.

        And now this current issue just validates my decision. Geeks who don't mind hunting for third party launchers to get a decent experience can get it.

        • brkshr

          "I'm holding off recommending Nexus devices after the whole 18 month support fiasco with the Galaxy Nexus."

          Google has held this stance for a few years now. This should not have come as a surprise to anyone. The fact that they gave the GNex 4.3, surpassing their 18 month support limit (albeit only a month over), was nice of them.

          Furthermore, the fact that the SOC on the GNex is no longer supported by it's manufacturer, is a pretty big deal. Why would Google want to support a phone that is well over it's 18 month update cycle and the main component in the phone is no longer supported by it's manufacturer.

          I get that it sucks for GNex owners, but it's time to move on. If you don't want to move on, then flash a custom ROM from one of the MANY developers that continue to support the phone. That's why we buy Nexus devices.

          • qw

            "Why would Google want to support a phone that is well over it's 18 month update cycle and the main component in the phone is no longer supported by it's manufacturer."

            To reduce fragmentation and improve the overall Android ecosystem.

            "... flash a custom ROM from one of the MANY developers that continue to support the phone. That's why we buy Nexus devices."

            Uhm, no.

        • Rob Zion

          Yeah bruh. I was going to flash 4.4 and tweak but I am staying with by custom SmoothRom on my Nexus 7. It has most of the features that KitKat has anyway. All except the new Google Now. Oh well, I'll just have to keep touching the search button. I did try downloading the files, copying lib, and editing permissions on a non Nexus test device but it wouldn't work. My 2012 Nexus is working good and I would rather not take the chance of having to flash and flash again because KitKat is buggy. I experienced that with the 4.2 JB from 4.1.2 and never again I tell ya...never again.

      • The Motto

        .. and when my girlfriend asks me why her iPhone can't do something I just answer: "your not suppose to do that".. Thought this sentence was common knowledge: everything iOS does, it does well; Android can do anything you want it to, it just doesn't do it well.

        • Nic F

          Oh my god. You and I think exactly alike.

      • rml hdr

        it's so sad that i switched from iOS to Android because of the Nexus line, and now Google is pretty much messing up every reason I had for making the switch in the first place.. Keep it up and I doubt my next phone will be an Android.

        • kayakj

          Every company puts things on their flagship phone first.. plus if you look at newer stuff it looks like google will be releasing this to the play store eventually ( they already added the necessary parts to the search app)..I think google is eventually going to get all of the core updates pushed through the play store so every android phone can access it

          Also give it a few weeks and you will probably be able to open the play store and see the launcher there for every android phone

      • TMH

        That update was anything but "just works" though. People were complaining about many problems, including poor performance, glitches in the native programs and problems with the actual update process.

        I don't see why people forget that in this day and age, no device "just works". The problem here is more that Google has broken consistency between devices, which is a really poor move on their behalf. Not a fan of it.

      • Findus

        I agree with the criticism of Google. However there is one thing you may be forgetting. I have several friends with apple gear that now complain that the latest update (IOS 7) has slowed downed their devices. In particular this goes for "older" phones e.g. Iphone 4(s) but even my Apple-geek friend that owns an Iphone 5 + the brand new Ipad Air complain that the signature "Apple-smoothness" is if not gone then definately degraded. I have seen him do multitasking on the Ipad Air it is actually very similar to Android and less fluid than his Ipad 3 (i believe it is). So yes, Apple may upgrade older devices but this is not necessarily a good thing. Some even ponder if they deliberately slow down older devices to promote sale of new phones: http://qz.com/141297/of-course-apple-is-engaging-in-planned-obsolescence/

      • chris pinkston

        older iphones don't get all the features of ios7 either. so really its the same situation. older Nexus devices will get 4.4 but missing a few things just like with iphones and ios. at least getting the missing stuff for us is as easy as installing this apk.

      • cajhne

        When Apple people say "It just works." What they mean is "I just ignored what doesn't work" or "I really just don't know any better". I know this first hand, because I'm the one at the office who has to navigate endless iForums to find out why simple email attachments will not work after 7 bloody release cycles of iOS, on the office iPhones. It doesn't f-ing "just work". :P I can only assume that the honest ones think it's always their fault if something isn't working on an iPhone, and the truly insane ones think that if Apple didn't put it in, you don't need it. I'm sorry, but if it's working on all the PC computers, Blackberries, Android phones (even the ones that you get for free with pay-as-you-go sims), and just the iDevices are messing it up, it's Apple's iGarbage sucking like a collapsed star. iOS is f-ing unusable for anyone who really needs a decent laptop replacement in their pocket. Whining about "Okay Google", not being everywhere all at once is pathetic. Just switch to iOS, and see what you'll be missing from Android (pretty much every power-feature, and customisation option you love), all for the sake of the iFantasy "it just works", which is just ignorance.

    • sluflyer06

      KitKat is an amazing release, why are people so focused on the visual elements which have very little impact, the important things are what the enhancements you can't see are, I'd rather have them turbo the engine so to speak than offer me a new color of paint.

      • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

        The user interface is the most important element to users. Only developers care about the hidden layers of the OS. It'll take time before users begin to see the benefits of the news APIs. Just based on my brief testing, Kit Kat has a different feel compared to Jellybean. Much of this new perception is based on the visual enhancements made to the user interface.

        • sluflyer06

          I would think the end user would be far more excited about extensive efforts under the hood to optimize power use and performance among other things. I think its important to remember that android is so highly customizable and we can easily change how it looks with launchers, themes, icon packs, etc.

          • The_Chlero

            My sister and my grandmother doesnt even know what a "launcher" is, let alone what API, SELinux, dalvik, ART, etc. SO Lateef is right, the average user (which compromise the 80% of the user base) cares about the UI.

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

            Compared to a visual uplift, those efforts are not immediately apparent to users.

    • brkshr

      "After Rubin and JBQ left, it seems as if there's a lack of coherency on the Android and Nexus teams."

      Maybe that's why they left in the first place? In fact, according to JBQs G+ posts, you could surmise that, that is exactly the reason why he left.

    • Bariman43

      Calm your shit. I think the point of this article is so we wouldn't get stupid comments like this. Download the launcher and move on, or STFU.

      • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

        The problem is the launcher is broken. Did you read the article?

        • Fri13

          It is not broken, it is having problems with some of the devices.

          I have it running in OTA updated N7 (2013) without problems the article mentions.

    • whispy_snippet

      Totally agree. This is extremely disappointing.

    • Gurbinder Pabla

      This is so true. I feel you and I think Google is going to be just like other OEM's

    • Karthick

      if they provide everything to every nexus user.. then people will never buy the new Nexus.. Google does evil after all!!

    • andy

      Why are you so angry? Because you want Android 4.4 on your device right? People ARE going to buy Nexus 5 because of Android Kit Kat... Or at least it will be a definite 'pro' of the phone, an advantage the Nexus 5 has over any other device, or, say, Nexis 4. What's stopping people from buying Nexis 4 on EBay? Android Kit Kat!

  • Cory Wilson

    I'm confused...xda said the AOSP launcher looks like GEL without the gnow integration... So why do the screen shots look like ICS?

    • Gnex

      I guess XDA was wrong. The real stock Kit Kat launcher (in AOSP as "launcher3") looks just like the Jelly Bean Launcher. No transparency or Google Now integration.

      • ismail

        AOSP 4.4_r1 has 2 launchers. (Launcher2&Launcher3)
        Launcher3 (AOSP 4.4_r1) has transparency. Google Now is part of Google Search app, so Launcher3 has not Google Now and "OK, Google".
        This Launcher is Launcher2 on AOSP 4.4_r1 like JB Launcher :)

        In addition, you can try Launcher3 clone, it is available on Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ovidos.android.kitkat.launcher3

        • Cory Wilson

          That's weird. I wonder why they wouldn't put the most up to date version of the launcher with the ota? I really am ready to say good riddance to all the launcher 2 based launchers and what not. Looked fine on phones but has looked like shit on tablets since jelly bean 4.1, and as soon as nova and apex updated, they looked like shit too!

          I'm really not too worried about GEL, but ICS was 2 years ago, time to retire the look with the ICS flagship phone

          • ismail

            I agree with you, but i don't know why they don't insert Launcher3 to OTA image. GEL is Google Search app, its Google's. Android has simple Launcher3.

            And GEL is stub app. It opens only Google Search app, so on Nexus 5, Google use modified Google Search app with Launcher features.(Not Launcher3)

        • Gnex

          A little late here, but do you happen to know how I could get my hands on a pure AOSP launcher3 apk? I have the Android SDK installed and updated if that means anything. Sorry if I'm not making sense :/

    • lbrfabio

      because that's not the new ASOP Launcher but the old one

  • Typongtv

    Whether I'm gonna try this or not.....thank you for bringing peace to my mind.
    I'm sure somebody out there is listening and will provide a fix for the issues very soon.

  • Sir Perro

    To me it's pretty clear that GEL is ready for phones but not for tablets, and updated version will be published in Google Play.

    I've got GEL up and running in my stock 4.3 nexus 4 with no flaws at all. It's not about "Nexus 5" exclusivity but rather not yet ready for tablets.

    • PhoenixPath

      So we hope.

      ...but you're stating this as fact.

      There is absolutely zero official information to back that up.

      I hope they eventually release it to everyone, too. But if they planned on this, you'd think they'd already have it on the play-store and restricted to phones only for now with a note about tablet support in the near future.

  • Harrer

    Yes, now I can use Glovebox without Google now popping out the sides.

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    I guarantee you that this comes down to two things:

    1. This is the first time since Android 1.0 that the launcher has undergone such a radical UI transformation in terms of layout. This would confuse non-techie users and they probably figured it's a better idea to just leave things the way they were. That's smart business. When are you people going to realize that overwhelming majority of the people who own Nexus devices (especially Nexus 7 and Nexus 10) aren't tech-savvy people like we are?

    2. The GEL clearly isn't finished. When you look at it on an N7, that's easy to see. Perhaps they just needed more time to perfect it on other devices and screen sizes, thus they've made it exclusive to the Nexus 5 so they could just focus on getting KitKat out. I guarantee the launcher will be available via the Play Store by spring.

    • Taylor

      Exactly. The fact that the Nexus 7 KitKat launcher wasn't touched most likely means that Google isn't updating it anymore because they plan on pushing the GEL once it's done. If they really didn't plan on putting it on the play store, they would have at least made the Nexus 7 launcher have transparency.

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      In reply to Tahsin Ahmed:

      Because "a little intro after updating and restarting the phone" isn't going to stop a massive number of average consumers from flooding Google support with "ZOMG WHY DOESN'T MY HOME SCREEN ACT LIKE IT DID BEFORE?!?! HOW DO I CHANGE IT BACK! THIS NEW THING SUCKS!"

      And then, you may ask, "Why not give people the choice of what launcher to use?" The simple answer is that giving people a choice is stupid. People don't want choices. People don't want to think about things like that. The first question most Nexus owners would ask is "what the hell is a launcher?" People want their hand held, people want to be told what they want, and they don't want things to change. They're used to the way it works and that's how they want it to stay while they own the device. Google knows that. Anyone who has enough perspective to view a Nexus outside the geek bubble knows that, whether they want to admit it or not.

      In the end, leaving the launcher as is on the older devices is absolutely the only logical, safe thing to do. Google knows that if the geeks and hardcores want the new launcher, nothing is going to stop them from getting it. So, they put the burden on us (the people who can handle it) rather than the average consumer. How could anyone fault them for that?

      • Jonas

        The logical step would be to give kitkat the same to everyone. Make the new launcher default on nexus 5 and on play for everyone else or at least to all nexus/ge as an option. Google should always remember that we are all emotional little kids with big egos. We want everything now. Google betrayed us and left us with this big depressing problem.

        • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

          Since the Internet doesn't have a sarcasm font, I can only guess if you're being sarcastic or not. If you were, then well played, sir. If you were being serious, then I shouldn't have even dignified this with a response.

  • Ashwath Ravee

    How about the new lockscreen?

  • A Black UI is the best UI

    The launcher sucks, go with action launcher or nova.

  • dogulas

    The search nar is centered on my Galaxy S3 and I'm not experiencing the keyboard issue mentioned. Not bad.

  • Adrian Meredith

    Calm down people, Its obvious from all of the bugs that the google experience isn't ready yet for tablets. Google never said that it wasn't coming to other devices, its just not coming yet BECAUSE ITS NOT READY! When it is we will all be in the awesome situation where the launcher can be updated outside of OS updates.

  • Fr0p0

    Goo-ple!

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    So how do those people feel who insulted me when I said that this launcher was Nexus 5 only? funny how things turn out...

  • Baleeted

    Why are people do people feel such entitlement when it comes to stuff like this? Everywhere I've been on the internet recently has been angry at Google for not giving them the update straight away (which Google SAID wasn't ready and they'd push it out when it was) and when they do, because it doesn't have a brand new feature that Google are testing on a new device people feel like they should have it? I'd rather wait for a proper experience on my Nexus 7 rather than something half-baked. However I will be trying out the GEL because I'm interested in it.

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      Thank God Android blogs commenters don't equate to the masses. The vast majority of Nexus owners couldn't care less about an update to KitKat or what launcher it includes. They just want their device to work the way it's always worked so they don't have to think about anything. That's the typical consumer and that's who Google has to please.

      Google does need people like us being evangelists for their products. The fact that people think Google has to keep this little percentage of us happy is really cringe-worthy. Once you become an enthusiast for something, you tend to lose the ability to be able to see the thing you love in the light that everyone else who owns one sees it. That's the fault of the enthusiast, not the fault of the product creator.

      That's the main reason I comment on Android blogs at all...to keep the geeks honest and to try and get them to see that the tech world doesn't revolve around them. It revolves around the average consumer. :D

      • Baleeted

        Yeah, I appreciate that. I do think that it's because the Nexus devices are more mainstream now rather than being just fit for purpose developer devices so consumers (read: not developers) are expecting instant updates. I think that it's been blown well out of proportion though. I suspect that because Google "usually" update Nexus devices straight away, people are getting antsy about it. For no good reason though. And on your point about not being able see the thing you love in the light that everyone else who owns one sees it. I completely agree. I sometimes have to take a step back when I'm talking to my father (whom some would call an iSheep) because he isn't so enthusiastic about Android and what it can do.

        I'm glad you do it, sometimes it does us geeks a good deal to step back and just take something in. I'm someone with strong opinions on mobile technology from my perspective BUT I always take a step back and think about everything from the averages consumers point of view.

        Thanks for not just outright bashing me by the way! I expected a lot of hate for writing that.

  • Luis Millán

    The Galaxy S3 running the 4.3 update with Nova Launcher 2.3 Beta 1 makes the whole notifications bar transparent when you tick the option, not half faded like the Nexus 5... i guess this is one of those quirks you guys pointed out

  • Eric Jones

    I'm actually not a fan of the new launcher on the Nexus 5. I keep trying to hit the back button to exit Google Now, since it acts like an app, not a background screen. I also keep swiping right to dismiss a card, and end up at my home screen instead. Then, there isn't a way to make your home screen in the center of all your screens. New screens are less and less useful since they are further and further away from your home screen. I can no longer have a useful screen on each side of my home screen, only one swipe away. I really miss HTC for their home screen customization, and the pinch to zoom to see all your screens. For the first time in years, I'm looking into custom launchers. HTC pissed me off by forcing me to have a page for blink feed, and Google pissed me off by forcing me to have a Google Now page.

    • Baleeted

      Sense 5.5 has got rid of the forced blinkfeed

      • Eric Jones

        That's good to know. I'm not sure when the Sprint HTC One will get the update to 5.5, but when they do, my wife will appreciate it. It's not as annoying as the Google Now integration on the Nexus 5 though, since on the One you can move your home screen.

    • Sir Charles

      Agreed, I too hate the way it works now and now am using Nova Launcher since the new integration has f'd it all up. Damn Google why?

  • LFB

    My face wen, my stock 4.3 TW have total trasparency status bar and drawer.

    I thing the "Oh google experience" is become shitty.

    Google is messing up everything. A shoot in the foot.

  • Jon

    I have a slightly noobish question. I just got a Moto X last week and love it but I'd like to use the GEL. What I don't want, however, is to lose the features specific to the Moto X. I'm fairly certain that the screwdriver gesture for the camera isn't tied to the Moto X launcher, but is the active notifications or the touchless control? I like being able to activate Google Now without unlocking my phone and the active notifications are actually way more useful than I originally thought they would be.

    • Shagnscooby

      You can always uninstall the launcher if it doesn't work like you hoped. It's nothing permanent.

      • Jon

        True, but does this process require root? This is the first time I've gotten a phone and not wanted to root it or unlock the bootloader.

        • mjku

          You can install/uninstall alternative launchers freely without root. It's a feature of the OS.

          • Jon

            I knew that to be true in general, but I thought this might be a special case since the community has basically back-ported a 4.4 feature for lower version phones.

  • wicketr

    I'm not a huge fan of the transparency at all. Just look at the screenshots above. You can quickly and easily see what time it is on old launcher because of the contrasting colors of black/blue. On the GE one, if the background has a very light color, you'll have to look much closer. The same would be true for the app names in the drawer. It's fine to have maybe a 30% transparency, but i think they went way overboard with allowing what could be white on white issues.

  • myepicyear

    I always like the updates Google release, but they totally screwed this one up. Very disappointed not to receive the new launcher on my 2013 Nexus 7.
    And all of this...just to stir up Nexus 5 lust.
    Not hard to get sidestep this on a phone, but the quirks of using the "Google Experience" (gag) launcher from the Nexus 5 on a tablet aren't worth it right now.
    My first disappointment from the Nexus line (yes, seriously).
    Hopefully they solve this with a Play Store update for Google Now or something, but I really don't know what to expect anymore.

  • The_Chlero

    Well, it seems that the lack of update for my GNex is not as bad after all, since it seems Google is screwing everybody but those with a Nexus 5.

    This is the first time I'm not very happy with the Google's Android environment and the obvious push for the Nexus 5. The way I see all these issues dont look very well into the future of Nexus and Android. KitKat was here to try to lower significantly the fragmentation between low end and high end devices (and everything in between), but Google itself is FRAGMENTING THEIR NEXUS LINE. I really never thought this was going to happen.

    • Christian T

      it's marketing ;) google = apple, have fun :)

    • Chase

      At least they're fragmenting the crummy stuff. The GEL doesn't feel all that great, and I'd much rather use Nova. Hopefully Google doesn't continue this with other programs.

  • Matthew Fry

    Now we have boring KitKat and exclusive KitKat. Yay.

  • Franco Rossel
  • NoBullet

    Funny how much google made an big deal over this update, with all the marketing. Yet this is the worst update they ever released. Buncha liars.

  • asianmack

    I can't open that launcher.apk on Nexus 7 (2012) updated to Android Kit Kat 4.4. :(

  • Guest

    Looks like you missed a huge new feature! (Google needs to provide actual change logs).

    Google Voice Actions is now conversational.

    For example:

    Me: "Call Mom"
    Google: "Mobile or Work?"
    Me: "Mobile"

    Me: "Text John"
    Google: "What's the message?"
    Me: "Hurry up!"
    Google: "Here is your message. Do you want to send it?"
    Me: "Yes."
    Google: "Sending message...."

    Pretty awesome!

    • http://www.markwheadon.com/ Mark Wheadon

      Who knew?! I certainly didn't -- thanks for that.

  • Josh Jacobi

    can't get launcher to be the default? On Nexus 10 4.3 I don't have the home option in settings. What am I missing?

  • Leona

    I have install it, but it remind me that PLACEHOLDER: Google search not found. what is wrong?

  • D.Peter

    I installed the stock GEL on N7 2012 tab. But there is only one page on the destkop and I don't know how can I add other pages? Pls help! :)

    • Robin Canela

      Drag an icon to the edge of the screen and it should create a new page.

  • Charlie Spotted

    Alas, the Experience Launcher tweak doesn't work on my Motorola RAZR I (having installed the Search 3.1 APK from the other page). On pressing the "Home" button with new launcher set to default, "Search" crashes.

  • Rahul Gupta

    I've downloaded and installed Google Search & Launcher app in my Nexus4 from the links provided but still the top and bottom bars are black. They haven't turned transparent yet. I've stock Android 4.3. What could be wrong?

    • Nikko

      That needs KitKat.

  • Naveen

    Can the authors of this post/website help me out here?

    I got whole setup working on my 2012 Nexus 7 running Android 4.3(unrooted)
    Installed the new google search apk, then the google experience launcher apk.

    Everything worked as expected.
    Still had the opaque notification and system bars, as expected.
    Then I went ahead and flashed Kitkat via adb.

    But now I've completely lost the "OK google" voice command feature. "Ok google" isnt working even in the Google now app screen(This worked before flashing Kitkat) And I have hotword detection enabled in settings.

    The Mic icon is now unfilled and there is no text showing "Say Ok google".
    I can get voice commands going if I tap the mic though.

    Is this expected? Has Google removed always ON mic in the Google now app for Nexus 7 in the Kitkat update?

    • Robin Canela

      In your Google Now settings under "Voice" make sure "Hotword Detection" is checked.

      • James Ellis

        I don't have "Hotword Detection" as an option under "Voice" :(

        Running 4.4 on a Nexus 4

    • George Brooke

      Make sure that you are using US English. UK English does not work. I learnt that the hard way :(

  • frafri

    love it.
    works great !!

  • Bill Conant

    Has anybody else seen the new Launcher fail and then complain about an FC with Google Search? HTC One (Sprint) with latest Search (GEL included).

  • rahul

    I have an Xperia sl running 4.1.2 I installed the apk but when I opened it, it says Google search not found. I have updated the search app to the latest update which adds support for the experience launcher on other devices.

  • rahul

    I have an Xperia so running 4.1.2 and I download and installed the apk but when I open it, it says Google search not found. I have updated the search app to the latest one that adds support for the experience launcher. Why am I facing this problem?

  • rahul

    Xperia SL*

  • Mikesphoneandtab

    For some reason I'm getting this weird error. Anyone know why?

  • KoteKhutsishvili

    I've installed the launcher with search but, I couldn't get transparency. Everything works fine. Am I doing anything wrong?

    • Robin Canela

      Make sure it is Android 4.4. If you do have 4.4 make sure to install the .apk included in the article or nova launcher.

      • Guest

        I don't have that option under Voice :( I'm on Android 4.4 on a Nexus 4

  • Robin Canela

    GEL on my Nexus 7 (2013) does not have any of the minor issues: google search not centered and app drawer icon. Just thought I shared.

  • Laszlo Demeter

    No niggles here:
    - search bar is centered
    - app drawer looks like on Nexus 5

    Installed on GS4

  • Jiri Kucera

    Hi! where can i find the launcher management?? I installled apk file but nothing happen... Can someone help me out ?? where is setting 4 this launcher ?? thx !

  • Sir Perro

    Working perfect in Nexus 4 with stock 4.4, no difference with Nexus 5

    • Guest

      How about widgets? aren't they smaller then the screen width?

  • Guest

    Launcher is not working for HTC One X (AT&T). Does anyone has any idea how to make it work?

  • rhymiZ

    Hey guys, if you factory restore your Nexus 7 after upgrading to KitKat, everything should work fine. No annoying keyboard pop-ups and the search bar is centered. I haven't noticed any glitches yet, see my screenshot.

    • Sapan

      Yes, worked the same for me. Although I didn't factory reset my Nexus 7. But I did wipe the cache after installing kitkat update from recovery mode.

  • Noonski Vicente

    Having multiple launchers installed fixed the keyboard popping up.

  • mauswe

    Is there any way to get transparent nav/status bar on a Galaxy Nexus?

  • Tony Culliton

    Interestingly... on my Nexus 7 2012 after updating to KitKat 4.4 , using the Google Experience APK my search bar IS centered, and the app drawer is the same icon as on my Nexus 5... sweet!!!! nice to have things uniform across my devices now :) Definitely worth the effort to sideload 4.4... that OTA download wasnt coming quick enough!!

    • George Brooke

      I was lucky and got the OTA when I just got my Nexus (yesterday)

  • Lawrence Lau

    The apk works fine for Nexus 4 after 4.4 OTA update! The full experience: no misplaced search bar, includes updated app drawer icon, no keyboard appearance upon return to home screen. Only need to re-place the widgets. The only telltale difference: in other apps, the top and bottom bars turn opaque black. Thanks for sharing!

  • john

    Do youu need to install both mirror 1 and 2?

  • Tommy123

    avast found the Trojan-Spy.Agent.AD in either the launcher.apk or the search.apk

  • mike

    Just installed on a Nexus 7 (2012) and none of the three niggles mentioned are apparent. Search is centred, kit kat app icon present and no keyboard showing on home when leaving an app. Alls good.

  • warde0213

    hi.. is it legal to manually install google experience launcher apk in nexus 4?thamks

  • chris pinkston

    I think it was a bad idea for Google not to include this launcher for all builds of android 4.4 The new look is part of the appeal of 4.4 to me besides the under the hood upgrades. That said, my moto x just got the 4.4 update from at&t tonight. Then I installed this launcher and now its like a mini Nexus 5.

  • Nick Gomez

    Just got 4.4 update to my Nexus 7 2 and instantly installed the Launcher APK (http://www.mediafire.com/download/ujpc67ov2d94l8p/GoogleHome.apk). Less than a minute worth of work and completely safe to do.Its running beautifully, with the exception that in horizontal mode widgets on the top overlap the Google now bar, which I'm sure Google will fix when the Google Play Version is released. More than the UI changes, Kit Kat made some serious under the hood adjustments. My Nexus used to run on 900-1100 RAM, with KitKat I see it as low as 500 and as high as 900. That's a serious improvement. I'm a little ambivalent about the white UI theme, I kind of liked the cyan blue over the white.

  • Phonemaya

    Try this manual upgrade. This includes the upgrade to Kitkat and also the minor KitKat upgrade released recently. That got my "OK Google" working like a charm!

    http://phonemaya.com/news/android/get-official-android-4-4-kitkat-manual-upgrade-nexus-47-10.html

  • sidd

    very nice launcher for N4...working very awesome...

  • compupolis

    This Google Experience Launcher apk isn't exactly the same as the one from the Nexus 5, is it?

  • pvman

    I'm a little confused. I downloaded the apk, but when I touch it, my Nexus 4 thinks it is a video and attempts to play the file through a video player. How do I get it to install?

    • pvman

      Never mind. I had a bad downloaded file. I re-downloaded and all is copesetic.

  • Eric Sammons

    Did I miss something, where is the apk and instructions for the translucent feature? The title appears to be a little misleading or I'm missing something.

  • Matt

    The apk file worked perfectly, and actually did not have any of the glitches mentioned above on my nexus 7. I like the hotword detection and the easy access to Google now but ill be a lot happier if Google made this official with the Kit Kat update OTA

  • MysticMagican

    Thanks for this post, lokked nice and i just installed the GEL. And now i want my thanks back! Is it this diffucult to say that alle home screens are deleted with all widgets and all placed apps? ...sucks... :/

  • Guest

    So, even after getting the Android 4.4 OTA and sideloading the GEL in Nexus 4 I noticed a few things are still not working as Nexus 5. Maybe they need further .apk, namelly:
    - Lock screen doesn't have transparent buttons (only Home screens and Google Now do);
    - New dialer doesn't have the local business search capability;
    - Energy control, Google play music and other widgets have 3x1 aspect ratio (instead of 4x1).

    What's missing?

    • Guest

      Why thank you Google!
      With the 4.4.2 update every item in this list has been addressed except for Google play music widget which is still 3x1. I think I can live with that :)

  • http://www.pixelheadstudios.net/ Charlie G.

    Not really sure why so many are complaining. I have a Nex4 and the update has worked wonderfully. I installed GEL as well and I am very happy. I am getting about 10% better battery life during a normal day of use as well. Its clear that Google positioned the Nex5 as the best android experience thus holding back certain things but also remember KK is still a dot update. Its not a leap to 5.0. I am convinced that ppl just complain to complain these days.

  • http://www.radioshak.co.uk Shakil Shaikh

    "This APK weighs 12MB, but don't let that fool you - 99% of the space is
    occupied by KitKat wallpapers, and only a minimal amount of code is
    present to enable the entry point into the new launcher."

    But how do you actually access the wallpapers?

  • George Brooke

    When I install it on my Google Nexus 7 2013 Wi-Fi, there is no support for "Ok, Google". Is it me using UK english (i am british) or is my nexus being mean?

  • Thom Watson

    Yesterday's Google Search update breaks this to some degree, though. I'd been using this launcher on my 2013 Nexus 7 the past few weeks and absolutely loved it. Then the Google Search update yesterday took it a big step backwards: it set the icons to a 5x5 spacing from the 6x6 I'm used to on the Nexus 7, enlarging all the icons even more and destroying the spatial arrangements of my widgets, making the phone look like something created for a toddler. Worse still, and unforgivable, really, the icons all along the bottom (formerly 6th) row on my home screen -- the folders I'd created and painstakingly organized -- just vanished when the UI changed from 6x6 to 5x5; Google didn't even move them to a second screen, it just removed them altogether. It's back to the stock launcher for me.

  • Hunter Poelsma

    After the latest update this has kind of been broken. It used to be perfect, but now there is less room for icons and widgets.

    Quite disappointing to have it working perfectly then have it taken away.

  • SK

    Hi guys. need some help. I have installed this launcher onto my Samsung Galaxy S3 and now the phone is stuck and keeps saying "Unfortunately, Google Search has stopped". Its just a black screen with that message when I unlock the phone. I can't see anything, and bar of wiping my phone I do not know how to uninstall. Any help please.

  • The_Chlero

    I did the steps to enable GNL (GEL!?) but the status bar icons are still blue (not white like the pictures) and the transparence is not enable on the navigation buttons. I have GNex running stock 4.3. ¿what else I need to do?

  • Manuel

    I downloaded the GoogleHome on my Galaxy Note 3 and it supports most of the features I like. Including saying "Ok Google" from the homescreen. Plus, the keyboard does not pop up when I press home from another app and the search bar is centered. Thank you so much for this information. Otherwise I would have had to wait for a nexus 5 in order to experience this.

  • OURWORLDERS

    Hello there I'm a kid that knows tech everyone know that touchwiz launcher have transparency on all devices that have 4.1?But I'm gonna tell you u forgot Google search and I have galaxy tab 3 7.2 and I need a transparency and an icon change I want an gray battery icon just like that

    Send by Disquis on galaxy tab

  • fistoffury

    After installing the launcher i cannot find any new apps that i install. However after switching to the stock launcher i can find those apps. what am i doing wrong?