SwipePad is a gesture-based app switcher that lets users open a selection of apps without exiting the one they're in beforehand. The latest update isn't a large one, but it's bound to make using the launcher slightly less annoying. Now users have the option to select apps that should disable SwipePad's functionality while they are running. The recently updated version of Carbon, with its new slide-out view, is an example of one such app that could benefit from this option.
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.
One of the best things about being an Android user is the plethora of customizations that users have at their disposal. Everything from simple changes (like wallpaper), to the extremely advanced, root-requiring mods – there's something for everyone. One of the best ways to add some flare to the Android experience without a lot of work, however, is by changing the launcher. Many launchers feature advanced functionality over that of Google's stock offering, including themes, transition animations, quick access to oft-used tools, and so much more.
KitKat introduces a lot of much-needed features into Android, like better support for low-memory devices, a new storage framework, SMS integration with BLAH BLAH BLAH. We all know what the people want: transparent user interface elements! Following Nova Launcher's update to better visually match the KitKat launcher on the Nexus 5, popular alternative Apex Launcher now has a beta version that does much the same thing.
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.