It seems like it's hard to find a non-Nexus device that uses anything close to stock Android. Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, Asus, Acer - everywhere you look there are customizations to a greater or lesser extent. Even Motorola, formerly Google's own subsidiary, uses a custom launcher. Chinese manufacturer ZTE is looking to break that trend, however. The company is planning to launch new smartphones that use the Google Now Launcher (AKA the Google Experience Launcher) by default.
The Nexus 5 introduced us to the Google Now Launcher, which is now available on a number of other devices. One of the headlining features of Google's launcher is the always-on home screen hotword detection. You can say "Okay Google" at any time to bring up voice search, but OmniROM is about to take it one step further with custom hotwords.
A Google Search update is usually an occasion to celebrate – not only do we get new Google Now cards, but the Google Now Launcher can also be augmented with new features and tweaks. But all was not well when Google Search 3.4 rolled out. Users of the popular Xposed GEL Settings Module (XGELS) found that it no longer worked. The developer was pessimistic at first, but now it's back.
It's finally happening. After months of leaks and speculation, the Google Now Launcher (previously known informally at the Google Experience Launcher) has been dropped into the Play Store. This is essentially just an updated stub app that will enable the home screen functionality in the Google search app on most Android devices. However, this isn't a universal release.
The first official version of the Google Now Launcher is only installable on the Nexus and Google Play Edition devices running KitKat.
The impending release of the Google Now Launcher (GNL) presents a bit of a dilemma. The cool Google Now integration isn't possible with third-party launchers, but GNL doesn't have many customization options. If you're rooted, there is at least one way to get around that – the new Xposed GEL Settings, which as you can tell from the name, requires the Xposed Framework.
Google has pushed out an update to the Google Search app, which now means there's also an update to the Google Experience Launcher. We've got the APK for you to install below, and this is looking like a substantial update – it looks like the new (and probably official) name for the Google Experience Launcher is Google Now Launcher.