When it comes to alternative launchers based on the standard Android homescreen design, I think it's safe to say at this point that Nova Launcher is the best available. But developer TeslaCoil isn't resting on its laurels: the app is constantly being updated, tweaked, and improved. Today the biggest update to Nova Launcher in years is going out on its Google Play Store beta channel... and yes, it has Material Design.

edit_shortcut new_screen_add settings_colour_change

Among many, many other improvements. Just about every portion of the app has been expanded or tweaked. Visual elements have been borrowed from the Google Experience Launcher, and the whole thing has been recoded onto a newer, faster Launcher3 base. Many more visual settings can be tweaked and viewed in real time (without leaving the Settings menu), and the app drawer now has a built-in search bar.

icon_layout_controls background_controls_feel app_drawer_search

Here's a full changelog as of this morning:

  • Full Material Design
    • All settings screens and dialogs are material style
    • More animations
    • Google Search from the search bar shows as an overlay
    • Edit Shortcut dialog, and quick menu, tinted based on colors of the icon
    • New icon
    • New Nova Action icons
  • Rebased on top of Launcher3
  • Individual icon layout settings (size, font, etc) in Desktop, Drawer, Dock, Folder
  • Max icon size boosted to 150%
  • Widget Search
  • Pull to search (pull down in the drawer to open app or widget search)
  • Widgets given their own drawer, removed from App Drawer
  • Ability to change Page Indicator color
  • Drawer Tab Bar completely optional
  • Support for Android for Work managed profiles (Lollipop)
  • Workaround Expand Notifications Nova Action not working on Samsung Lollipop
  • Requires Android 4.1 or higher (Dropped support for Android 4.0 ICS)
  • Unlimited desktop pages (previously limited to 9)
  • Easy add/remove of desktop pages by dropping icons on the blank page, or removing all icons from a page
  • Add blank desktop pages (for gestures or live wallpapers) from overview
  • Improved bulk edit of folders (Folder > Menu > Select Apps)
  • Added shadows to unread badges
  • Unread Badge size scales with icon size
  • Allow reordering drawer folders by drag/drop within window
  • Added Roboto-Medium font option
  • Improve handling of apps installed to sdcard

At least one Android Police team member was so pleased at the list of inclusions that he... uh... uttered an expression of satisfaction that isn't reprintable. (Or at least that I'm not going to reprint.) To gain access to the beta join this Google+ community then enable this test page, or just download the APK manually from here or APKMirror. It usually takes a few weeks for Nova beta features to make it to the stable release, though this one may take longer for obvious reasons.