The Android launcher Google debuted on the Nexus 5 has now been made available on the Play Store for a shedload more Android devices.
The Nexus name used to be associated with offering up a stock Android experience, but Google decided to get creative when it launched KitKat on the Google Nexus 5 last year.
The LG-made Android device sported a bespoke launcher that tweaked the classic look and feel of Android Jelly Bean. Icons were made larger, Google Now received its own dedicated home screen tile and the apps, widgets and wallpaper selection screen was redesigned with nicer aesthetics.
At first this experience was a Nexus 5 exclusive, but then Google opened it up to other Nexus and Google Play Edition devices running Android 4.4 KitKat; including the Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet and a variant of the HTC One (M8). Following a major update to the launcher on Friday, KitKat is no longer required to run the Google Now Launcher on your Android device. The Google Now launcher now supports devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later.
On top of the aforementioned tweaks, users are able to search hands-free by simply saying “OK, Google” from their device’s homescreen (provided the feature is enabled) and the app menu button has a noticeably different look to it too.
— Android (@Android) August 1, 2014
Depending on the device you’re installing the launcher on you might lose out on some native features, such as Samsung’s own widgets, which require TouchWiz in order to display. Other aspects may not necessarily change, such as the design of the notifications panel in the case of the standard HTC One (M8) we tested.
Based on the current reviews on the Play Store, not everyone is thrilled by the look, feel and functionality offered by the Google Now Launcher and it is true that there are alternatives with more robust functionality and greater levels of customisation, however, Google’s offering is one of the cleanest and slickest around. Give it try.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.