If you do not know what the Google Experience Launcher or otherwise known as the Google Now Launcher is than you probably do not have a nexus device. The Google Now Launcher is the default launcher on the new Nexus devices and has only been available on those devices. Google created the app and added it to the play store for a limited number of devices but I am sure the devices supported will expand. Google Now Launcher is not a launcher that adds fancy designs or widgets but it provides a core Google services right on the homescreen.
Using the Google Now Launcher
The Google Now Launcher is available for download from the Google Play Store for some Android devices. When Google launched the Nexus 5 with the Google Experience launcher it was the one and only phone that had the launcher homescreen. What makes the launcher so special is that Google Now service is embedded in the homescreen. If you do not know everything that Google Now does for you check out this website. Having Google Now right at your homescreen gives you all of the features right on your fingertips. Here are some of the things I use my Google Now homescreen for:
- Directions to well known or recently searched locations
- Hands free voice search
- Updated Sports scores of favorite teams
- Shipping information for online purchases
- Flight tracking and information
- Local Weather
- Recent Google searches
All of the Google Now features on the homescreen are helpful, but perhaps my favorite feature is the voice search. The voice search is like the normal google search where you can speak and it will enter in what you say. But the Google Now Launcher adds something so much better, instead of having to hit the microphone button on touch your phone at all if you say “Ok Google” when your phone is at the homescreen without touching the screen. This is very handy when your hands are full and don’t want to grab the phone to search. That featuring alone would be enough for me to use the Google Now Launcher, but I am someone who uses a lot of Google products so I get more out of the Google Now cards.
How to get Google Now Launcher
Right now Google has only released the Google Now Launcher on the play store for Nexus and Google experience devices. For anyone with one of these devices the app can be downloaded from the Play Store and you can switch from your current homescreen to the Google Now Launcher. If you do not have one of those devices the app is available for then it is going to be harder to load it. If you are comfortable side loading applications to your Android device then the process should be simple. The first step is to ensure that the Google Search app is up to date on your device. Right now the Google Search app is at version 188.8.131.529776. This is the version needed for the Google Now Launcher to work.
The next step is to ensure that the allow unknown sources is checked in the security settings and then you can download the apk and install the Google Now Launcher. There is a very helpful install guide at talkandroid.com which will walk through the steps to install the launcher and include a link to download the apk. Once you have installed the Google Launcher you have to walk through the launcher setup and opt in to the Google Now cards and then after a short amount of time your Google Now cards will show.
Now that Google has released the Google Now Launcher to the Play Store for certain devices you can be sure that the app will continue to support more and more devices. Using the Google Now Launcher offers many benefits over the other stock launchers. This is especially true if you use many of the Google Services like Google search and Gmail and spend time in the Google ecosystem. I suggest trying the Google Now launcher if you are able to either download the app or side load the apk file.