01
Aug
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It's been a number of months since the Google Now Launcher debuted in the Play Store as an exclusive for Nexus and Google Play Experience devices, but today that changes. The newest update has opened up official access to all devices running Android 4.1 or higher.

The Google Now Launcher is just a stub APK that lets the Google Search app become the home screen, but Google still held back official compatibility until now. With GNL, you have a customizable number of home screen panels and the Google Now screen off to the left. It worked fine on "unsupported" devices before if sideloaded, so this change is just about making it available through the Play Store.

It looks like a wide rollout, so you can install the launcher to any of your 4.1+ devices immediately. It should offer to import the layout from your old launcher as well. Anyone who sideloaded the APK will start getting updates to the launcher APK through the Play Store, but again, all the heavy lifting is being done by Google Search.

[+Android]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • 16Bitz0r

    OMG, I iz ze 1st to commentz!

    • Phil Oakley

      Do people actually still do this?

      • 16Bitz0r

        People without GNL, obviously. ^_^

    • Marcello Gil

      Pqp

      • 16Bitz0r

        Oh... you silly Galicianish.

    • jr

      No ragrets, bro.

  • mikebel3

    I wish Google would allow 3rd party launcher access to side swipe into Google Now. That's really the only differentiation now that we can "OK Google" from anywhere.

    • ProductFRED

      Seriously. Nova Launcher Prime is infinitely more powerful than this. I agree with you.

    • jibust

      KK Launcher has side swipe into Google Now.

      • cesium

        Does it have side swipe OUT of Google Now as well? Or is the side swipe just a gesture that launches Google Now

        • Liam Higgins

          i use the xposed module swipeback and set it to the right side on the google search app. emukates it pretty well.

        • jibust

          No, you can only swipe in to Google Now, and you have to press back/home, to leave it.

          • rhilb11

            Swipe from the right to leave google now.

          • MikeOxlong

            You can swipe out of it the same as going into it.

    • pfmiller

      I wish Google would get rid of the side swipe into Google Now, it's useless. Swiping up works better and more consistently.

      • NinoBr0wn

        What benefit would you get from removing the side swipe?

        • pfmiller

          I could get my home screen centered where it belongs. Makes multiple screens quicker to access.

          • NinoBr0wn

            So you'd rather have the swipe up and more control over your screens. Why even bother with the Now launcher?

          • MikeOxlong

            Sounds like a little OCD... you may or may not get over it.

        • andy_o

          Besides having the home screen centered, when Now is not part of the launcher you can call Now from an app by swiping up and press back to go back to the app. With the Now launcher back doesn't do anything.

        • guest

          You can swipe up on Google Now Launcher too.

          • NinoBr0wn

            No shit?

      • duder12

        Except people don't know where it is when its the swipe up. This way its front and center

    • guidomus_maximus

      That's really the only thing this launcher has going for it. Other than a complete lack of features (which may appeal to some).
      Reminds me of CaddyShack: GoogleNow Launcher, you'll get nothing and like it!

    • Gregory

      There's no way to do this in SDK, really. One doesn't simply share a piece of app's UI with another app. The only way I know to do that is RemoteViews used for widgets and custom notifications layout, but the app has VERY limited control of those views.

    • http://languagehopper.blogspot.com Rick

      I've had Google Now available to me for months in Action Launcher's side-swipe. Easy to use and no app drawer (can't stand the drawer) - side-swipe the other way and I get a scrollable full app list.

    • http://eichefam.net/ Paul

      Oh man, I would love for Google Now to be a "space" in Aviate.

  • DonEmu

    Wish Google would add icon pack compatibility.

    • Qbancelli

      This

    • asdfdsa

      It can be done with an Xposed Module

    • n_a_v

      And homescreen grid resizing. With those two things I'd have no need for Nova.

    • Gregory

      I wish they added the ability to select the main page so there'd be launcher pages on both sides of the main one. I don't really need Google Now that much in my launcher since I can get in that from anywhere by just swiping up from the home button.

      • FritoDorito

        Then why would you be using the Google Now Launcher in the first place? The launcher is mostly centered around Google Now as its defining feature. If you want a traditional Android launcher, Google's stock options are usually not the way to go.

        • idiot

          maybe the aesthetics of the launcher? the transparency and app drawer? use some common sense

          • FritoDorito

            The aesthetics are the most easily replicable aspect of the launcher. The only truly unique aspect about it is the Google Now integration, since no 3rd party launcher is capable of implementing that. If you dislike that one unique aspect, there's not really that much incentive to use it over other launchers that omit that feature for more features and customizable aesthetics.

  • Jason Pagliaro

    Anybody know if this breaks the Xposed GEL Settings module yet again? I've learned to fear these updates.

    • John Wilson

      I got the update late last night and it's still working fine for me.

    • Jimmy

      It's only updates to the Google Search/Now app that can break compatibility with XGELS.

  • Brad

    I had it sideloaded on my galaxy tab, but it let me push it from the webstore... may have a mess when i get home haha

    • Justin

      When I pushed the app from the webstore onto my M7 that I had sideloaded it onto, it just updated the app and everything worked fine. No issues at all, didn't even lose my layouts.

      • Brad

        it just replaced what was there? Linked it to what existed, basically?

        Edit: "Anyone who sideloaded the APK will start getting updates to the launcher APK through the Play Store, but again, all the heavy lifting is being done by Google Search."

        I should read things.

  • Giampaolo

    I would love the possibility to divide applications in tab. Now that I have an Android Wear having apps for watch mixed with those for smartphone is becoming difficult to manage

  • Cesar

    I'll stick with Action Launcher.

    • rolo143

      I'll stick with Nova Launcher.

    • Wesley Modderkolk

      I'll stick with Google Now Launcher

    • RarestName

      I'll stick with glue.

  • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

    Not available on Motorola D1. But sideloading the stub APK works fine.

    • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

      PC Play won't allow you to "install" but it will update the stub APK. Don't know what's going on.

  • David Mareš

    AaaaaAAaaargh...oh dear God Almighty above all androids why did LG stop updating my phone after 4.0, WHYYY??!! :-/

    • http://retardedgeniuscomics.tumblr.com najodleglejszy

      root the shit out of it and install custom ROMs. my Xperia mini pro runs smoother on CM10 than on stock 4.0.4 Sony firmware.

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

    SImple, beautiful and elegant launcher. Although I launch apps exclusively from search these days.

  • Renan Lazarotto

    For the love of god, FINALLY. I've been waiting to use this in a official way since its been made!

    • guidomus_maximus

      Isn't it funner to use it in an unofficial way?

  • Crunchy Nut

    This is the best launcher. And I have used like 3 different launchers. I know what I'm talking about.

    • Taylor00

      Your logic is hilarious.

      • xsirxx

        hahah this is a great conversation. What do I know though.

    • vc

      I've used 4 so I think I would know a bit more than you.

    • daas88

      I've tried like 15, so I must be some launcher guru or something.

    • FritoDorito

      I've used 1, and this is, by far, the best.

  • Ricardo

    Yes! Touchwiz no more on my phone!

    • Brad

      except the notification shade... blech.

      • PiLoT .

        one from the s5 isnt too bad tbh

        • Brad

          I just hate having all the switches up in the top... I have a galaxy tab. Very tempted to throw xposed on it... apparently you can turn off the switches.

          • tintin.92

            What's wrong with the toggles? Esp on a tablet where you have so much more real estate?

            Personally I love having the toggles on my phone. I especially hate that the toggles in stock android are ANOTHER tap away...

          • Jacob Long

            Swipe on the right side of the top bar?

          • tintin.92

            Tap or Swipe, it's another step compared to Samsung or LG implementation...

          • Brad

            double finger drag down in stock... but i rarely toggle anything anyway. That's why I don't want them in my face taking up half the drawer.

      • Ricardo

        That's a bummer indeed.

    • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

      No launcher is gonna remove the Touchwiz framework. Not only does it skin all the SystemUI elements, and support it's own launcher, but its more than a skin itself. It's also a set of undocumented/unreleased/proprietary Samsung APIs for their own use. (Notice how Samsung's camera app (which has functionality that overlaps with the newly announced Android L camera APIs) doesn't work in vanilla AOSP/CM/etc, yet, the AOSP camera works on Samsung Android OS)

      All of this will still bloat your phone, reserving RAM for itself, and probably some extra CPU cycles. If you want Touchwiz gone completely, you have to root and flash AOSP-based ROM or switch to non-Samsung device.

      • Ricardo

        I'm aware that I haven't removed touchwiz altogether but now I have a decent launcher that performs arguably better than the mess that is touchwiz. And in fact I think I have less bloat because AFAIK the google search process is always running alongside any launcher I may have installed, but with GNL installed, google search performs a double function, thus saving me some ram, right? I may be wrong of course and if you could enlighten me, I would appreciate it. Cheers.

  • Noob

    Noob Question: Why won't Google add features to the GN launcher like Nova and APEX. Example: Resize icons, hide icons etc ??????

    • Dead Mason

      Google wants to keep stock Android simple.

    • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

      They'll prolly get flack and even more one star reviews for not constantly updating GNL for the latest trends in customization. Once they add one piece of added functionality like Nova, everyone will expect them to support 1 million homescreens, infinite folders, unread plugins, pretty much all popular nova launcher features.

  • Andre

    On the moto G it doesn't allow me to pick the default lawncher's background images pre installed on the phone.

    • Dead Mason

      That's because it uses the stock 4.4 wallpapers. If you want the ones that came with the phone, there should be a 2nd Wallpapers option in settings>display>wallpaper.

  • Raymond Berger

    I wish they would add the ability to hide apps that are not use frequently. That's the main reason I use Nova instead.

    • ash

      Yes, I would too love that feature.

  • Peter

    Anyone else here still have an original Moto Xoom? GNL seems to hang and cause screen flicker when adding widgets.

    • Guest

      a xoom? it BELONGS in a MUSEUM!

      • Peter

        Blergh.

        Next yer gonna say my Nexus S belongs in a museum too.

    • cabbieBot

      a xoom? it belongs in a museum.

  • WORPspeed

    off topic:

    But can someone with the L preview tell me if any of the Widgets got updated?
    Was looking at my Google sound search widget with its horrible black boxy rectangle look and I was hoping L would bring a fresh coat of paint for them.
    Anyone?

    • Dead Mason

      No.

      • WORPspeed

        No, no one can tell me if widgets got updated. OR No they are not updated?

        :P

        Thanks

        • Peter

          No fresh paint. I think Google Now replaces the Sound Search functionality anyway.

        • Dead Mason

          No widgets are updated.

  • paul4id

    No thanks. Hate the way the Google Now takes up one of your home screens and you can't get rid of it (if you want it you can just swipe up from the home button instead). If you want a plain AOSP free open source launcher then better to just install the Cyanogenmod Trebuchet launcher apk.

    • Nightfall

      You can't swipe up with capacitive buttons.

      • Mike Loomis

        I still use the swipe up way to access Google Now on my Nexus 4. Works fine. I would rather have my home screens that I can freely swipe between and access Google Now by swiping up. It just seems natural to me now, I guess.

        • Nightfall

          Nexus 4 doesn't have capacitive buttons...

    • Allen Tanguay

      You can get rid of it, in fact it is off by default until you turn it on. I've gotten used to the launcher since installing the APK on my GNex last year and switched from Action Launcher. It is very efficient, and IMO you don't need more than one home screen anyway, since using widgets is even less efficient than they're meant to be. Even using the search bar is way quicker than going into the app drawer.

  • miri

    Still has the wallpaper bug :(

  • stevo

    Now, please also release google dialer for all 4.1+ devices!

  • ray

    I hope Google Now Launcher would add a 5th row of apps on home screens and app folders

    • Allen Tanguay

      I wish it would just place a dock in the GN page

  • Allen Tanguay

    Off topic but I've never seen Google Now tell me when a bus is running late before. I've been wanting this for so long

  • Allen Tanguay

    Off topic but I've never seen Google Now tell me when a bus is running late before. I've been wanting this for so long

    Edit : sorry for all the screenies

    • CoreRooted

      THIS!!! I'll have to check it out and see if it works here too. Phoenix buses (and light rail) are either always late or always early. :-/

      • http://www.scottcolbert.com/ ScottColbert

        No kidding, I alway end up leaving half an hour early just in case.

        • CoreRooted

          Fortunately, I almost always have my bike with me and my commute is fairly easy, so if I'm running behind, I can always bike it. But, on 110+ degree days (which we see more often than not), the inaccuracy of our PT system SUCKS.

        • Allen Tanguay

          It's telling me when the buses are early too I've noticed, which is even better. A bus that's early might as well just be 20 minutes late.

    • LaMar

      Yeah I d/led the apk of the launcher back when it released for my Moto G, and this is one of the best parts of the Google Now experience. The Delaware mass transit system is terrible to begin with, this at least makes it bearable so I can get to and from work.

  • Arch9

    Nice, the new update didn't break xgels

  • james kendall

    im sticking with nova launcher. the whole side swipe to get to now is annoying. if i really wanted ok google anywhere id enable it in nova but i dont want it as it's a waste of battery and mobile data. I use my customizable key to directly launch the Google voice search intent.

  • Shakattack82

    Installed it on my Nexus S running Android 4.1.2. Did a reboot of the phone later on and noticed that a lot of the icons have disappeared from home screen. Apparently, its was (is) a bug when GNL was launched back in 2013. Unsure if it has been solved. Any pointers on how to resolve this bug?

  • Michael

    This really needs icon set support and the ability to add more icon to the dock.

  • Barrett Jasper

    If you don't like the launcher STOCK download Xgels Xposed mod. IT enables TONS of customization like rows/columns/icon packs, resizeable widgets, icons, docks, dock icons and MUCH more. It's awesome and frequent updates all the time. VERY stable (been out for several months already) and makes GNL incredible!

  • Shadowgjuki

    Can someone tell me why are those icons on Google Now Launcher so biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig????

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