Now that the developers of the more popular apps in the Play Store have come to grips with the changes in Android 4.4, it's high time to see them take advantage of the new options. Such is the case with popular alternative homescreen Apex Launcher, which exits its KitKat-enhanced beta and lands on the Play Store today. The new version adds a host of visual tweaks to bring the launcher up to date with 4.4.

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Chief among them is the option for a transparent notification (status) bar, aping the official Google Experience Launcher as seen in all the promos for the Nexus 5, not to mention competitors like Nova Launcher. You'll need a phone or tablet updated to Android 4.4 to take advantage of it, or a custom ROM if you're an advanced user. Other visual changes to match KitKat include the updated quick search bar, folder icons, and a number of other small changes. There's also an option to select the icon font. Thankfully these don't necessitate a bleeding-edge OS release.

2013-12-21 18.19.59 2013-12-21 18.18.31

Other housekeeping items in the changelog include an end to a disappearing icon bug and other various fixes, plus updated translations. As always, Apex is a free download with a $4 Pro upgrade, and it's compatible with Android 4.0.3 and up.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • ndroids

    Swipe from left for Google now an option or still GEL only?

    • Kieron Quinn

      The full implementation likely will never happen, it's closed source. The closest you can get is with a gesture

    • TY

      It works because the entire GEL is drawn by Google Search apk... The launcher apk is only a "shell".
      For now the closest thing you can get on other launchers is setting up a whole page of Google Now widget.

      • patrick

        Swipe from the left works on Epic Launcher. I have it installed on my S4 right now. Closest thing to GEL. No 'always listening' feature but no other launcher(besides GEL) has it. This is probably as close to GEL as you can get.

  • Samuel Hart

    I'll be sticking with my hacked in GEL, I like the swipe-for-now feature too much :3

    • Tony


      • Samuel Hart

        Yeah, I've got an old N7, so it's not an official version of it.... works fine though :)

        • usaff22

          Which version are you using? Just letting you know that most people have the old version, the new one begins with 0.10... instead of 0.9...

          • Samuel Hart

            Oooh, good catch! Thanks for letting me know, all up to date now!!

      • Chris

        I'm pretty sure it already has... Check out GravityBox.

        • mrjayviper

          not everyone is fond of xposed

          • mrjayviper

            not sure of the reason for the downvote but is it wrong to not like something? I thought Android is about choices. At least that was my perception when I moved from iOs.

          • mobilemann

            xposed is awesome, they just need to finish copying cydia dev's and do what mobile substrate for iOS did, and provide a fucking safe mode.

            xposed sure beats flashing for stupid little things.

        • Samuel Hart

          Sad times, but my nexus bugged so I had to format it, and I didn't notice it was unrooted until it was too late... I can't be asked to format it again, do no xposed for me for now! D:

          • Taco Monster

            You don't need to wipe to reroot, only to unlock the bootloader.

          • Samuel Hart

            Holy shit.... of course you don't!! How could I have bloody forgotten, and the bootloader is still unlocked!! Root here I come! Thanks for pointing out that blunder :D

          • mateor

            unlock bootloader wipes user data as a security measure.

    • RL010

      Try Epic Launcher. Based on Gel but with a lot of extra's

      • anzensepp1987

        Not at all based on GEL. Nothing is based on GEL - it's closed source. Maybe it's inspired by GEL.

    • Ayotollah

      Yea because swiping up from the home button no matter what you're doing just wasn't cutting it. Its just so much easier to have to hit the home button, then swipe all the way to the left....or you can be an epic faggot and hit the home button and say "ok google" meanwhile I finished my search a half an hour ago. Apex and Nova spray shit all over that ugly ass, boring, clumsy big icon looking GEL launcher. Stupid fucks should die.

      • Samuel Hart

        Wow, who pissed in your cornflakes? :P

        • Ayotollah

          My baby's momma. Fucking cunt.

          • Samuel Hart

            You probably don't want to stay with someone who pisses in cornflakes, it's a filthy habit!

          • jscarano

            What the fuck?

        • Ayotollah

          In all seriousness I just can't stand to see people essentially dumb their phone down for the sake of a redundant feature. I personally bought the Nova paid version. I have GEL as well as a few others on my phone. But Nova is the boss. How much is that epic?

          • My name is….

            Actually, Nova is the clerk, ACTION LAUNCHER IS DA BOSS

  • abhisshack

    Nova Still Better

    • RL010

      i bought Nova & Apex a long time ago. In te beginning Apex was better, but now i use Nova prime on my .Nexus 7 . On my Xperia T with Omnirom i use Epic Launcher pro

    • Victor QuyUy

      Would you please state the points :)
      I myself confused about the differences between these two apps. I still prefer Apex since it has the swipe up gesture in app drawer to go back to home.
      Sad thing is none of these have the "Ok, google" function like the stock launcher :(

  • TheRunner024

    I'll stick with Action Launcher Pro.

  • outadoc

    H2G2 <3

    • nofearofimaginarymen

      Whats up with the triangle penis?

      • PhilNelwyn

        Rorschach test.
        So you see a penis?
        Tell me more...

  • Captain Canada

    I prefer Apex because the free version includes gestures that Nova makes you pay for, I buy a lot of apps but 4$ for a launcher never made sense to me.

    • RL010

      i buy a lot of apps too, bought 4 launchers in the last 4 years,, ADW, Apex,Nova and Epic Launcer. and think the most oif them where around the 3 euro

    • mrjayviper

      how often do you buy a launcher though? if it's once a year, $4 isn't that much

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

      I bought nova when it was on sale over a year ago, never looked back.

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

      Also for an app you use everyday, is $4 really a stretch for you?

  • Android Developer

    what features does this launcher has that Nova doesn't, and vice versa ?

  • Casey Mills

    Transparent status bar doesn't work on CM 10.2 :-(

    • Mado

      CM10.2 is Jellybean. You need CM11.

  • Penis Semen


  • spunkysam

    Can AP do a poll on which launcher everyone is using please.

  • retr0sp3kt

    Transparent works fine on my sgs3 (SGH-i747m) running 4.3.

  • Jon

    It would be nice to use the transparent toolbar without the 4.4 os but hey it's nice to see an update.

  • mobilemann

    this works on my rooted but stock rom note 3. (900a) (the translucent menu bar)

  • http://j.mp/scottbeamer Scott Beamer

    You forgot to mention that the transparency feature is also supported in *some* OEM ROMs (e.g. Samsung's Android 4,3 ROM).