Back when we reviewed our white Nexus 5, easily our favourite feature right out of the box was the Google Now launcher! But the, still exclusive, launcher of the Nexus 5 is a weird one for Google, mainly for the fact we all expected devices, especially, like the Nexus 4, to receive the new launcher alongside the inevitable update to Android 4.4 Kitkat … however, that never came to be.
Third Party Launchers? … OK solution, but not perfect
Due to the emission of the Google Now launcher on any device other than the Nexus 5 itself, (this even includes newer generation Nexus 7 tablets, literally only the Nexus 5 natively has this launcher) what has resulted is a flood of third party launchers in Google Play essentially mimicking the experience found on the Nexus 5. The problem with these launchers is they aren’t official, most of them are buggy, and implementation of the Nexus 5-esc features feels to the user rather hacky … especially the Google Now features.
If you are in to simply using Launchers native to Google Play, and want a decent enough experience around a Nexus 5 launcher experience, the best one we’ve found is simply called ‘KitKat Launcher+‘, the launcher is free to use and works well enough for those who don’t want the 100% official feel.
But, what’s the solution then? Well, to be honest it’s rather simple…
Official Google Now Launcher!
IT CAN BE DONE, IT WORKS, AND HERE’S HOW TO GET IT!
- Running Android 4.4.x
- Google Now updates to the Google app installed
If you have an Android phone that is running Android 4.4.1 or later (latest at the moment is 4.4.2), then you can actually install the official Google Now Launcher on your phone … now, we know what you’re thinking, through Google Play right … nah, you can try it and see that infamous incompatibility message right here, but that’s not the solution.
Something to keep in mind though, is that the Google Now Launcher would work on your phone natively, it’s just that Google don’t make it available to download from Google Play … but what if they did?
Well, this is Android, seemingly anything is possible, whilst that’s not always true, in this case it sure is and let’s get to what needs to be done. Before we get started, we must mention, our test subject for this test is a Moto G, which is running Android 4.4.2 practically worldwide, we’ve also confirmed this working on a Moto X as well as a Nexus 4.
1. CHANGE ANDROID SECURITY SETTINGS (temporarily if preferred)
Before you can install anything on any Android phone, at least of late, that is not through Google Play, you must first of all change a single Setting on your device to allow installations of Android .APK files from ‘Unknown Sources’. You can find this in the common path of your phone.
SETTINGS >> SECURITY >> DEVICE ADMINISTRATION > UNKNOWN SOURCES (tick)
‘Unknown Sources’ will be un-checked by default, simply check the box, you will get a prompt simply OK the prompt and the box will be checked. If you prefer, you can un-check the option after these steps have been taken and installations are completed.
2. DOWNLOAD THE LAUNCHER
Well, if Google Play doesn’t provide the download, what if it was available elsewhere? Done. You can download the Google Now Launcher from the download button above. Simply click the ‘Download’ button shown above and tap the GoogleHome.apk (11.9MB) and wait for the download to complete on your device. Download powered by OneDrive.
3. OPEN THE FILE
Whether from the Notification Shade, easiest to do once the Download has completed, or from your preferred File Viewer, open “GoogleHome.apk” and Install.
4. SET LAUNCHER AS DEFAULT
SETTINGS >> HOME > GOOGLE NOW LAUNCHER
Once you’ve installed the Google Now Launcher to your Android phone, as we’ve mentioned in this case is our Moto G, you will gain (if you didn’t have another launcher on your device) a ‘Home’ option in Settings. From this Setting you can set which launcher you wish to use by default, or even remove a downloaded launcher. Simply tap the ‘Google Now Launcher’ and go to your home-screen, and enjoy!
5. ENJOY THE GOOGLE NOW LAUNCHER!
Advantages of ‘official’ Google Now Launcher’
- “OK Google” hot word WORKS on any device! Yep, you don’t need a Nexus 5 (or technically a Moto X) to be able to say “OK Google” from the home screen.
- Google Now on the left side page
- Nexus 5 UI, including folder, app drawer
So, there you are, the official Google Now Launcher. Will you be installing the official Google Now Launcher on your Android phone, or any problems, let us know below.