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.
So you didn't get a Nexus 5 – that's okay. You can still get that shiny new KitKat look and feel with the new Nova Launcher beta. It won't get you all the way there (the transparent nav bar is limited, for example), but the new version of this third-party homescreen has a lot of little visual tweaks to make it look almost like the real thing.
The Nova Launcher developer posted recently about the changes that were coming in light of KitKat, and now here we are.
The biggest user-facing change in Android 4.4 KitKat is, without a doubt, the launcher. The new launcher experience provides deeper Google Now integration (it's literally the leftmost homescreen), beautiful transparent navigation buttons and notification bar, always-on Google Now listening, and a much cleaner app drawer. For now, though, this launcher will remain a Nexus 5 exclusive - Google wants to see what the reaction is before expanding this 'Google experience' to other devices or the Play Store-using public.
One of the more drool-worthy aspects of the software from the Nexus 5 (and not necessarily Android 4.4) is the homescreen and launcher, which includes a ton of new features tied directly into Google Now and Google Search. But you might want to curb your enthusiasm: according to a report from The Verge, Google isn't interested in expanding that launcher to other devices at the moment.
Google tells us that the new Launcher on the Nexus 5 is exclusive to the phone — though the company may change its mind and offer it for the Nexus 4 and perhaps even put it on the Play store someday.
If you suddenly saw a new app pop up on your phone this weekend marked "Trigger," don't be alarmed - the much-loved NFC Task Launcher has just been rebranded. The rechristened app has been given a new look and a small functional update, but it retains all of the NFC goodness that's earned it a 4.5 star rating in the Play Store.
Trigger has been given a slight visual update, which makes it a little more effective when used on tablets.
The popular invite-only contextual launcher Aviate upgraded today from Alpha to Beta. It's still invite-only, but it's definitely worth looking at, as one of the most powerful alpha products I've ever used just got even better. (Did I mention we have an invite code good for 500 invites later in the post?)
The team behind Aviate promises that, besides new features, the beta launch means that the full wait list of users will be brought on board, with all users getting five invite codes to dole out to friends.
Several days ago, I started a series of rumor posts on my personal Google+ account discussing some Android rumors I felt were interesting enough to share, but didn't feel confident enough yet to do so here on the site. The posts were heavily prefixed with disclaimers that none of them may turn out to be true but that I had a certain level of confidence to talk about them in public unofficially.
The flick-gesture for quickly opening the camera app on the Moto X and new DROIDs has been repeatedly highlighted by Motorola. And like any buzz-worthy feature in an upcoming phone, it's been almost immediately duplicated. Twisty Launcher popped into the Play Store last night, promising to deliver a customized version of this gesture-based feature, with the added benefit of being compatible with any device or app.
The name "launcher" is a bit of a misnomer - Twisty launches apps, but it isn't a homescreen in any way.
Nova Launcher is one of the most popular home screen replacements out there, and the developers are hard at work ensuring that this doesn't change any time soon. The latest update introduces even more ways to customize every aspect of your launcher's appearance. Anyone who makes the jump to version 2.2 will gain the ability to add backgrounds to their docks, customize the look of their unread badges, and dabble with new scroll effects.
The latest trend in Android user interface modifications is the gesture-based meta-launcher, a way of quickly launching and switching between huge numbers of apps. My personal favorite is still SwipePad, but the current fashion is for Holo-style, scrollable sidebars. Appsi is the latest among these, but differentiates itself with a ton of customization and plugins.
First of all, the setup process is a lot simpler than similar apps, allowing the user to easily move the activation areas with a more graphical UI, instead of adjusting numbers or sliders.