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Google: Experience Launcher Found on the Nexus 5 is an Exclusive


When speaking with The Verge about about the release of Kit Kat and the Nexus 5, Google brought up the new Google Experience Launcher that is found on the Nexus 5, and that you won’t be able to find the launcher on any other device – at least for the time being. For now, the launcher is an exclusive to the N5 and Google wants users to pick up the Nexus 5, instead of waiting for them to push it to other devices like the Nexus 4 or even placing it in the Google Play store, which could happen someday. 

With that said, anyone who currently runs stock Android on a 2012 Nexus 7, 2013 Nexus 7 or Nexus 4, shouldn’t expect to see the new launcher come with the OTA update to Kit Kat whenever that starts rolling out. It’s kind of a bummer to think about, but Google usually has a reason behind the things they do.

This seems like an appropriate time to let you know that you can sideload the launcher and place it on whatever device you’d like starting right here. God, I love Android.

Via: The Verge

  • Epic Tea

    Google is turning into apple.

  • Ian Case

    Wondering if this has to do with the always listening OK Google? The Nexus5, like the MotoX has a CPU dedicated to just doing that, where as the others don’t.

  • wat

    It’s okay! My Nexus 4 is used to Nova Launcher anyway.

  • KaoriCamellia

    Aaaand, the ability to sideload apps and flash ROMs continues to democratize mobile computing…

  • Andrew Keller

    Can anyone fill me in on what this means? I understand the concept of a launcher, but if Google is not including the experience launcher on everything else, what exactly is everyone else actually getting?

    • Tiago Azevedo

      The same launcher the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 7 currently have.

  • interstellarmind

    I am totally not a fan of Google’s new launcher. Miss the 2 screens to the left and right of the home page. I feel like I’m using iOS 7!

    But, I guess change is good. I should embrace it. Is DL gonna do a nexus 4 vs nexus 5. I know the camera, SoC, speaker positioning are obviously upgrades. But I’d like to hear their opinion on the new form factor, etc.

    • Thats whats great though. Don’t like it? Load Nova launcher. Side load the old one, sideload anything, sideload, SIDELOAD, SIDELOAD FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

    • bitbank

      As you install more apps and run out of space, the launcher creates new pages. Right now, my Nexus 5 has 4 pages of icons.

  • Just_Some_Nobody

    So, now can people stop with the whole Nexus is pure Android crap?

    Pure Android is AOSP. Nexus is Google’s own twist on Android.

    • Gnex

      Finally, someone who gets it. I’d be okay with this if Google weren’t abandoning Android’s open source apps. The AOSP music app is still stuck in the days of Froyo, and Launcher and Messaging will probably be the next to go… And system updates aren’t as exciting as they used to be with all of these “Android” apps on the play store lol.

      • Epic Tea

        Yeah I read an article tthat really broke down how google is moved into a closed phase.

  • Mark

    Honestly, aside from the dial-er its not that great of an update.
    In fact i would argue that jellybean is an overall more polished OS.

  • DJ SPY

    Google keeps leading the charge in Android fragmentation.

    • Leo

      Also leading the way when it comes to creating the most powerful, feature packed, successful and evolved mobile OS

  • iamme

    i have the google experience launcher on my verizon S4….

  • JeffColorado

    It’s not as special as it sounds. It looks nice but is very restrictive. I went back to Nova Launcher Prime after about 5 minutes. Google is becoming more and more like Apple, and in a bad way. Bonus: Those nifty voice features you’ve heard about will only work in this launcher.

    • Morten

      Well the “nifty” voice features acturaly works on any device running the newest version on Google Search.. The Google Experience Launcher also doesnt work without the latest Google Search apk..

  • I like the look of it, but the huge icons are really annoying enough for me to switch to another launcher.

  • Travis Walls

    How long before all of the features and looks of this launcher just end up in Nova instead?

  • drt054

    It will be trebuchet (CM) in no time..

  • TimXer

    Been working pretty good on my non-rooted VZ SGSIII…with a couple of small hiccups

  • RoadsterHD1

    Sticking with Nova launcher. Way BETTER…..

    • Ryan Dickie

      This. Played with the stock launcher for half a day, missed Nova. Totally missed the point of it, Glow is just a swipe away. Talking to my phone like Scotty from Star Trek? No thanks. I’ll keep my searches away from prying ears.

  • chris_johns

    not a fan of it anyway…i like a center home screen with two on left two on right…i dont need google now on left from my main home screen…

    • guest

      cant agree with you more ..i think its invasive ..I can launch google now with simple swipe if i need it ..or just add a widget on of my home screens

      • Adam Truelove

        The advantage to the swipe to the left (which I prefer) is that Google Now is now always running. You don’t have to wait for it to load the cards. Not a big deal on newer phones really, but on older phones, it can a couple seconds. In the new launcher, the cards are already there.

  • ArrTooDeeToo

    Google wants me to buy a Nexus 5?


    • JeffColorado

      The obvious solution is to get rid of Verizon. It is not as painful as it seems…the scab heals over in a matter of weeks.

      • Mike Reagan

        Minutes for me lol.

    • Stephen D

      I paid my ETF and went to T-Mobile Monday night. I really don’t miss Verizon. Bill is cheaper and I get a new phone twice a year.

  • 2Berad

    If you can”t beat them join them!!!

  • Brian
  • d-rock

    Custom columns/rows and resizeable widgets or won’t even consider it!

  • Mike Hilal

    I actually prefer the JB launcher.

  • duke69111

    I don’t really see why this launcher is such a big deal.

  • Eric R.

    Nova and Apex are better anyway

  • IDunnoMyName

    I’m sorry to spam, but if anyone in the New York/Long Island area is interested in the Nexus 5, please buy it off me for cost. It’s the white 32gb version unopened straight from Google. The pending groove IP shut down effectively ruined my plans for using the Nexus 5.

    • Steve B

      Not sure if this is allowed, but you might try Swappa – you’ll get a lot more interest there.

    • Droidzilla

      The GrooVe IP shutdown will be because they integrate Google Voice into Hangouts, so you’re still good to go most likely. That’s not a 100% certainty, but even if not you can simply sell it next year when the changeover occurs. Though I’ll be very surprised if they don’t integrate Google Voice data calling into hangouts at that time.

      • IDunnoMyName

        Thanks, Steve and Droidzilla. I’m probably just going to post it to Swappa. I haven’t even opened it because I don’t want to be tempted to keep it, but I think I have to stick with VZW. I’m getting $60 for unlimited talk/text and 2gb, which is in line with most of the prepaid options. I really wanted to just use the $30 T-Mobile prepay plan, but I can’t definitively stay under the 100 minutes without Wi-Fi calling.

        • Droidzilla

          Might not be an option for you, but if you have multiple people on T-Mobile’s post-paid plans (so, still a contract and you pay after the fact, but you can cancel at any time and there’s no ETF) your costs can go way down. For instance, we have 3 people on that with unlimited everything for $150 before taxes. If we went down to 2.5GB each we’d be at $120; 500 MB each (which would be tough) would be $90.

          Also, Straight Talk and a few others give you some incentives. If you do auto-pay on ST you’ll be at ~$42 for unlimited talk and text with 2GB unthrottled, 4G data on either T-Mo or AT&T.

          Just some food for thought. Verizon has killer coverage, and it sounds like you’re on a good plan. Still, T-Mo post-paid for just one line at 2GB and unlimited everything else would be the same price with no ETFs (but it’s also no savings).

  • MikeSaver

    I would’ve thought they’d like everyone to use their services on all devices, but guess not.

    Also, if Google can make the nav and notification bars transparent in a launcher, could Nova do this in a future update too?

    • SplashMTN

      I believe it requires root access to do that, but hopefully I’m wrong.

    • Ryuuie

      The transparent part MIGHT still be a part of 4.4 for the 4/7/10. It’s just the launcher itself. As far as I know, the launcher doesn’t include the nav and notification bars.

      Hopefully I’m not wrong because I think that’s my favorite thing about the 5. 🙁

    • Steve B

      Transparency is part of Kitkat, not the launcher.

  • Brian Kircher

    The launcher doesnt seem to work on my Droid Maxx, it give me an error because it says google search is not installed.

    • Jared

      Did you install the new Google Play Services apk and the updated Search? I think it requires installing all three before it will properly work. If you have installed all three, you can ignore this response.

      • Brian Kircher

        Ya, I did download the updated google search app, but it force closed on me alot so I removed it.

        • Jared


    • Steve B

      There’s three (3) apk’s you have to install to get everything working right.

      Also, you may have to go into launcher settings > Voice > Offline speech recognition > download the english update. You should be good after this.

  • Justin Rogers

    i hate that launcher regardless.. only thing nice is the swap to the left for google now

  • zepfloyd

    Just sadly gives more and more credence to that Ars article from 2 weeks ago….


    • Ryan Gullett

      Can we really blame them though? They still need to keep some exclusive features to themselves. They still need to remind people they are still Google. And yes, I understand how that steps on the whole concept of “open source”. But I dont have a problem with them making the Nexus line somewhat exclusive to its users. If they are going to do this though, I hope this trend means they are actually going to give a real vision to the Nexus line. Because at this points its a PR phone.

    • Droidzilla

      AOSP has never claimed to be the mobile equivalent of Linux Ubuntu or something. The core OS is still open source, but the Google-ness of it isn’t and has never been. With all of the launchers out there, what does it matter that Google doesn’t open source theirs? The launcher GUI is not the OS; that would be like if Canonical was a for profit company that didn’t open source their version of Linux but rather only included it on their own branded devices. What’s the issue with that?

      • zepfloyd

        Reading this comment just shows how much we moved the goal posts in the last 2 years.

        • Droidzilla

          Who’s “we”? I think open source is cool and all, but I do not now nor have I ever seen why a company should simply give everything away for free. Isn’t the base OS enough? Oh, and ALL GApps if you comply with Play Store requirements.

  • markgbe

    kind of weird… i’m definitely looking forward to seeing it on my N7 2013. Hopefully it doesnt take toooo long

  • jdjsjsjsj

    Way to fix fragmentation Google…

    • EC8CH

      If their plan is to eventually push and update the Launcher through the Play Store, then this actually is a way to fix fragmentation.

      Sarcasm revoked.

      • Ryan Gullett

        Is it possible they simple just need/want some time to develop the launcher for the Google play store? Maybe use it as a way to sell the Nexus 5 for now and eventually roll it out in the play store later?

        • zepfloyd

          Sadly I don’t think so. I think this is google saying, “look all the OEMs have their own launcher/home and don’t use the stock one anyway, so we will too, you want ours you have to buy our devices.” Google is playing defense before offense. If this doesn’t work for them they can just dump it on the play store if they feel things like Facebook Home are a threat. (obviously currently not)

          • Droidzilla

            I doubt it. My money’s on this eventually being released in the Play Store as Kit Kat makes switching launchers so easy. Make it a Nexus 5 exclusive so the skin-happy OEMs don’t freak out and then quietly admit it to the Play store after it’s “tested” and people can kill OEM skins with a Google Experience launcher (well, a lot of their functionality, at least).

          • EC8CH

            So does Launcher3 stay the stock AOSP launcher as the Google Experience Launcher moves to closed sourced.

            Would this be similar to the AOSP browser and Chrome? Is the AOSP browser still there as the stock browser unless Google replaces it with Chrome on their devices, or 3rd party manufactures replace it with their own browsers?

            I guess I’m wonder what happens to core AOSP apps as Google transitions to updating them on the play store as closed apps. Are there AOSP versions of these core apps still there, or are they just removed completely?

          • zurginator

            The AOSP versions of things still exist as far as I know – Google is just now creating their own versions and licensing those (as always).

          • birdman

            take a look at aosp’s music player for a good example of what’s happened to apps that get left behind.

            the launcher 3 in source implementation is kinda sad, no transparent notification bar, no wallpapers, the icon for it looks like an afterthought….

          • michael arazan

            If you have a Nexus device, why would you want a launcher anyways? Thought launchers were for phones with skins on top of android. I never even considered a launcher when I had my GNex. I got an sg3 replacement and got into Themer Beta cause TW bugs the hell out of me so much.

          • Keith Hollis

            every phone comes with a launcher of some kind, even if it’s the stock AOSP launcher built into Android. Manufactures and 3rd parties just make their own launchers to replace the stock android launcher. This just means that Google is creating a launcher specific to the Nexus 5 for now and leaving the stock launcher alone which is disappointing.

          • Epic Tea

            Stock android is not customizable at all very limited llaunchers like nova give us lots off customizing options

        • abqnm

          Either they need to wait for all devices to update the correct library needed to run it or they need to figure out how to push the lib with Play Services or something. It isn’t quite like other launchers as it relies on a hardware dependent library to run.

          Either way, I am sure it will be mass market soon enough.

      • Pete

        That’s if it’s their plan. Of course, after people start complaining, Google will release it and nobody will know if it was their original plan or not.

    • Allan

      I thought the Nexus devices are supposed to be stock Android? I wonder if Google is going to start doing what other OEMs do and try to “differentiate” the Nexus devices.

      • ruthperez325

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  • Tyler James Edward Hills

    Heck I’m running it on my GNex and it’s perfect so far

    • aBabyPenguin

      the graphics issues on my GNex with 4.4 are almost unbearable :/ And the phone crashes and reboots almost 5 times a day. Not sure I can last much longer, I might go back to 4.3 and wait for the devs to fix these problems.

      • Will

        Install the 1080p mpokang kernel. I’ve had one reboot since, and the phone is snappy as can be.


        • Tyler James Edward Hills

          Does that fix the black box issue as well or just the reboots?

        • aBabyPenguin

          So far it hasn’t fixed the display problems but hopefully it will stop the reboots. Thanks Will!

      • Tyler James Edward Hills

        I have run into the black box in certain apps (gmail being the worst offender) and some reboots here and there. But the launcher and Google Now have been flawless for me and nothing is broken just yet. It’s a pain but I can hold out till the updates come in

    • Steve B


      • Tyler James Edward Hills


        • Steve B

          Nice, I miss his work since I moved off the Gnex. I hear he’s getting a N5, is that true?

          • Tyler James Edward Hills

            I’m not too sure. I’ve actually stayed on CM or AOKP for most of my time with the GNex so this is my first Shiny experience.

          • Bigwavedave25

            Yes, he ordered one.

  • Dan

    Umm, so what laucher will be on kitkat on the nexus 4, 7, 10?

    • Tyler James Edward Hills

      I’d assume the stock one that they already have until further notice

    • Ryuuie

      It’s a launcher called “Launcher3” in AOSP. Basically, it’s the Google Experience Launcher without Google Now swipe to the side or the “Ok Google” voice command on the homescreens.

      You also can’t control the number of homescreens either.

      Basically, it’s the ICS launcher but with a few tweaks.

      • Dan

        Does it have the transparencies?

        • Ryuuie

          I honestly don’t know, but I’d assume so…at least on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.

          The Nexus 10 won’t have the transparencies, I know that much.

          • EC8CH

            what are the “transparencies”?

          • Ryuuie

            The Notification Bar and Navigation Bar are both transparent in Android 4.4. In Android 4.0 to 4.3, they’re black.

          • EC8CH

            Oh.. ok, thanx

          • Ryuuie

            No prob! 🙂

          • Steve B

            It’s so silly that Paranoid can get transparency working fine on a Nexus 10 but Google can’t. I don’t get this. I hope Google gets their code worked out so the Nexus 10 users can get some of that sexy transparency.

          • Ryuuie

            I agree, it is kind of weird… Do they even like the Nexus 10 anymore? I don’t even see them promoting it.

            Nor have I ever seen it in person in ANY brick and mortar store.

            …Does it even exist? :v

  • Curtis

    Did it on VZW Moto X. Wasn’t the greatest experience (crashes), but I really like GEL!

  • Dan

    Frankly, I’m not blown away by it and the fact that it’s not AOSP is a little worrisome.

    • tyguy829

      i was thinking that too. doesn’t that effectively kill of 3rd part launchers like nova and apex since the launcher code is now closed source? They would have to replicate all of the changes themselves, and some parts like google now (which is probably the biggest change) can’t be replicated.

      • Jared

        Yes and no. There is still Launcher3 included, the GEL is just like a 3rd party launcher. Also, it’s a lot like the GAPPS that aren’t part of AOSP, we just have them because people have essentially created backups and we can install the apps from those backups. That’s the nice thing about this, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want, I assume that’s the case even on the N5.

        • Ryuuie

          I believe that’s not the case on the 5. You have to actually disable Google Now if you want the launcher gone. But you CAN still install a third-party launcher.

          • Jared

            That makes sense. Thanks for the heads up with that.

          • LionStone

            That’s a bummer, I’m not too keen on the G Now swipe left, but hopefully it’ll change down the road, maybe Nova will give us the option later?

    • zurginator

      If I had to guess, it would be that the GNow integration is too deep for them to release the launcher as open source. This transitions it towards the ‘service’ category, which has always been closed.

      Now if they leave out an open source launcher in any future builds – yeah that would be time to flip out.

  • McT

    oops, i’m already using this on my moto x

    • Curtis

      Do you have any trouble with Google Search?

      • Derin Richardson

        Yes. Problems with search are abound on the Nexus 4 as well.

        • Curtis

          As weird as it sounds I am glad to hear it. I always hate thinking “What did I do wrong?” I did try applying the Language fixes, to no avail.

      • McT

        I know this has been reported quite a bit, but i’ve gotten no issues with Google Search. In fact, the only apk from the dump has been problematic is the Clock.apk, as it seems to force close rather regularly. I only did what it said to do in Droid-Life, but I’ll track the xda threads to read up on what has been affecting other users.

    • Bigwavedave25

      Are you Nav and Status bars transparent on your lockscreen? I’m running a 4.4 rom on my GNex and they solid for me. This was the only difference I noticed from the Nexus5. The transparent fade shows up on the homescreens no problem.

      • McT

        Nope, rockin’ solid bars also

        • Raul

          I have Gnex and I have same transparent/fading nav and status bar.

          • Ray Pastore, Ph.D.

            Yes i have the stock 4.4 on my gnex with the clear nav/status just as the n5 has. I imagine all custom roms will include it.

      • Adam Truelove

        The transparent bars require 4.4. On older versions of Android, they will be black I believe.

        • Bigwavedave25

          I’m on Shiny 4.4, lockscreen bars are black for me. Transparent on homescreens and GoogNow.

      • imnotmikal

        The nav bar is already transparent on the Moto X and there are xposed modules for the status bar. I’m running GEL on my X with transparency looks good

        • Bigwavedave25

          I was running Xposed for transparency on 4.3, too bad it doesn’t work with 4.4 yet.