The arrival of the Nexus 5 also marked the debut of a new and revamped home screen launcher from Google. Dubbed the Google Experience Launcher, it was (and still is) exclusive to the Nexus 5, and had Google Now/Search built right into one of the home screens. The integration of Google Now was arguably its biggest strength, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the latest Google Search update renames the launcher to “Google Now Launcher.”
Renaming aside, what really makes this update to Google Search promising is that it hints at the eventual arrival of the Google Now Launcher on the Play Store – when installed manually on a Moto X by Droid Life, the launcher gave the option to copy over the home screen setup from the previous launcher, a trait often found in third-party launchers.
As you’re probably aware, Google has shifted a lot of stock Android apps to the Play Store so it can easily update them and make them available for users of non-Nexus Android devices, which means we could soon see the Google Now Launcher lose its Nexus 5-exclusivity, something which a lot of people have been hoping for.
Of course, thanks to the possibility of manually sideloading apps, you can try out the new Google Now Launcher on your non-Nexus device right away, provided it runs on Android 4.4 KitKat. It’s been tested on the Moto X and Galaxy Note 3, though it should work on devices like the HTC One as well.
Here are the steps to try it out, courtesy of Droid Life:
- Install the latest GoogleHome.apk from the Nexus 5. [Download Link]
- Install the latest update for Google Search. [Download Link]
- Set the Google Now Launcher as your new launcher.
- Walk through the setup. If you already have Google Home installed, you’ll need to uninstall it, then force stop and clear data for Google Search to see the setup process.