Google released a standalone version of the Google Now Launcher on February 26, 2014 that supports all Nexus Android devices. The Google Now Launcher is available for Google Play Edition devices as well, but users should note that it is only supported on Nexus and Play Edition devices running Android 4.4 KitKat or later. Considering that the Google Now Launcher only runs on devices that run the latest operating system natively, those of you who own non-Nexus or Play Edition devices will have to be patient. As of now, there is no news of the Google Now Launcher becoming available to other devices.
The Google Now Launcher gives you the ability to launch Google services searching and setting reminders with your voice by saying, “OK Google” on the home screen. It also puts Google Now only a swipe away, instead of hiding it from users. The launcher has been unique to the Nexus 5 smartphone up until this point, though those with the means and development know-how have extracted the standalone APK previously. Even on Nexus devices, the sideloaded APK worked with varying levels of success, but now Google has brought the power of previously-named Google Experience Launcher (GEL) to thousands of Android tablets and smartphones.
As of this writing, the new Google Now Launcher has nearly 10,000 five-star reviews and an average rating of 4.7 out of 5, indicating a great deal of successful downloads and happy users.
Here’s a full list of features directly from the Google Play Store page:
- Google Now on your home screen – it’s easier than ever to get just the right information at just the right time.
- Just say “Ok Google” – when you’re on your home screen, just say “Ok Google” to trigger voice input. Then say your search query. Or tell your phone what to do, like send a text message, get directions, or play a song (available in the US, UK, and Canada).
- Faster search – tap the search box and you can enter your query immediately.
- Easy access to your favorite Google products and services, like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps.
- Larger viewing area – the status and navigation bars are now translucent, so your wallpaper pops from every pixel, and is even visible when you expand your apps drawer (when supported by device).
- Intuitive wallpaper picker – select any image that’s stored on your device, or in the cloud. Position and preview your wallpaper before you set it.
Source: The Next Web