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The Google Now Launcher is Coming, It Will Even Import From Your Old Launcher

google now launcher

Through an update to Google Search that arrived today, we are now seeing a new name for the launcher that came installed as an exclusive on the Nexus 5. Previously dubbed the “Google Experience” launcher, the name has now been changed to “Google Now” launcher. The name makes a lot of sense, especially since it has Google Now built-in, is actually powered by Google Search, and can access Now with a simple swipe from the left.

But while installing it on my Moto X, I noticed that it wanted to do more than just act as a sideloaded, stepchild launcher that didn’t belong. It asked if I wanted to import settings (well, icons and folders) from my older stock launcher. While we have no official word on this, seeing options like this in the launcher certainly hints at this new Google Now launcher finally arriving for all on Google Play. 

Many of your probably have this launcher already installed on your devices (GoogleHome.apk), since it has been sideload-able for some time. But I took a clean Moto X without it, then updated Google Search and installed the GoogleHome.apk and was taken through a setup process.

At this time, you still need both GoogleHome.apk and Google Search to get the Google Now launcher to work, so if Google does make this available to all, an update somewhere is either going to have to combine them or perform another trick.

To get the Google Now Launcher up and going, do the following:

1.  Install the latest GoogleHome.apk from the Nexus 5. [Download Link]
2.  Install the latest update for Google Search. [Download Link]
3.  Set the Google Now Launcher as your new launcher.
4.  Walk through the setup.

If you want to see the setup process and already have GoogleHome installed, feel free to uninstall it and then “clear data” and “force stop” Google Search. Then re-install GoogleHome.apk and set it as your launcher.

  • jackson blake

    My zte vital says Google search has stopped running. What do I do to fix it?

  • Vikram Rajan

    It sounds like something I really want, but ended feeling like meh. And ironically only works with the standard free Gmail account, not my corporate G apps email that I pay for?? True?

  • dylan webb

    Whenever I try to open the Google launcher I get an error message that reads “unfortunately, Google search had stopped working” I’m on a lg optimis f6. Help please

  • http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/4851011/ bodotdot

    I downloaded the APK and I have the updated Google Search, but I’m not seeing Google Now show up as a launcher option in Settings. I’m running Kitkat 4.4.2 on a Nexus 7. I had previously tried the previous Google Experience Launcher APK, but deleted it. The Google Now APK is in my “Downloads” file… should I move it to a different file?

  • wpw

    Is the launcher suppose to work on other phones besides the Nexas 5? I have a Razr maxx and the launcher errors out.

  • Chris

    love it, one issue, i noticed since installation battery drains much quicker…anyone else having this issue?

  • Stone Cold

    This rocks

  • Felipe

    This launcher is a little slow on my nexus 4…the transitions and animations have a kind of lags…i am having problems with edit my folders too…some icons disappear when i change the order and when i put the icon again the APP breaks..after this the icon returns, but it is annoying…

  • Andrés Mata

    Has anyone tried installing this on a Verizon Galaxy S3?? Do I have to be rooted? Thanks in advance!

    • Joseph Kurland

      Works great on mine! Was easy to intsall with the links above.

      • Andrés Mata

        Awesome! thanks for the help :)

  • Geoff Calver

    In addition to grid size customization, I’d like to see the ability to edit icons in stock launchers. Most icons are just plain ugly and I’d love to have the uniformity available in some of the awesome icon sets out there without installing a custom launcher.

  • viewthis66

    Is there a setting for a transparent notification bar? How about swipe and double tap gestures? I can’t see using this unless these can be done. Although i like the dedicated Google Now page to the left.

    • James Walker

      Ill still use it, but I agree, these would be nice.

  • Brandon Golway

    I’ll stick with Nova Prime.

  • BrandonWhite116

    My favorite change: the google now voice volume is now dependent on the media volume instead of the system volume.

  • Thomas O’Brien

    Weird, when I loaded it, it fired up with the tutorial (swipe left for Now, etc.), but did not give me options to keep icons….

    Any ideas? I’m on the VZW LG G2

  • James Walker

    Its Alive!!!!! Working well so far on my HTC Droid DNA!!! Ill post any bugs i encounter. Never got an option to set up or import old settings. I was just using stock Sense 5.x . Not Rooted. Thanks DL!

    • Tuấn Ankh

      I didn’t get that either. I had to set up my home screen from scratch.
      I’m on the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 with 4.2.x

  • nailbomb3

    Sideloading doesn’t work on the Razr Maxx. Sigh…..

    • Hans Dirk Kwazneski

      worked fine on my non-rooted razr maxx. go to security and make sure unknown sources is checked?

      • nailbomb3

        oh I was able to sideload it just fine, its just Forces Close Google Search when you try to run the Launcher….

        • Hans Dirk Kwazneski

          Clear data and reboot? Sometimes I get that issue with side loading

          • nailbomb3

            nope, no joy. still Force Closes.

  • Brandon Giesel

    Hey Kellen, I loaded that new apk and google search version on my Droid Maxx running Android 4.4. It seems to run and look a lot better than GEL. I noticed it calls it “Launcher” in Launcher Switcher within the settings. It used to call it Home on the last two versions of GEL that I sideloaded. Kind of interesting. Seems like it is a results will vary situation. Thank you for sharing the apks!

  • Bruce Wayne

    Once it allows some customisation I’m leaving apex launcher

  • Ian Case

    How does Hangouts/SMS work with it? I had been seeing Hangouts VERY laggy on my Moto X and was blaming Hangouts. I uninstalled GEL for shits and giggles to go back to stock and all of a sudden, Hangouts is lightning quick again.

  • http://twitter.com/mickmel mickmel

    Does this work on tablets, like the Nexus 7/10?

  • joejoe5709

    I couldn’t get it to import from Apex, but I was reminded how nice of a launcher it is. I especially like the app drawer. Props to the Xposed/Unicon suggestion. I had no idea that existed and could come in VERY handy. Ultimately, I’m going back to Apex for now but I’ll keep an eye on this launcher.

  • Pam Oakea

    Wish it would give me all Google icons instead of TouchWiz ones on my S4 like phone and contacts.

  • David Dudovitz

    I tried to erase data and rest, but it didn’t work.

  • Bryan Moross

    Not working on GN2… “Google Search has crashed” occurs when opening the launcher.

  • Barlog

    I just downloaded both files above and removed the old GEL APK file I’ve been running on my X and now when I try to put a widget on my screen Google search keeps force closing on me. I had no problems before with GEL on the Moto X, so I might just go back to the way it was

  • AUSTEEEZZZ

    Probably stupid but do we know if you can import 3rd party icon packs into this launcher?

    • Patmw123

      I’m pretty sure you can’t as of now.

    • charesa39

      You can if you’re rooted and running Xposed Framwork. You can use Unicon in the Play Store.

      • joejoe5709

        Dude. Great suggestion. I had no idea Icon Themer/Unicon existed. Stark icons with the GNow Launcher looks really really good.

        • charesa39

          Yeah. It’s pretty sweet. Glad it worked out for you!

  • Help

    I have an S4 with this launcher, however the google sound search widget doesn’t work anymore? Any ideas?

  • Patmw123

    I actually prefer the standard launcher on my Moto X over the GEL launcher. Having Google Now just being a swipe away is always the case with phones and devices with software navigation keys, so I don’t see the huge benefit other than just having a different look.

  • fartbubbler

    This comment is awaiting moderation.

    jk.

  • Pam Oakea

    Search update link isn’t working.

  • John Clausen

    Yeah, it’s clean, but what’s the advantage over Nova?

    • JSo

      Google Now integration. Thats pretty much it

      • rzlatic

        which i read as: more wakelocks :)

    • joejoe5709

      Yeah I went back to Apex. If I want instant searches, it’s not difficult to hit the little microphone button in the seach bar. If it were something like Moto’s Touchless Controls, that’s different. And I’m just not dying to have Google Now on the farthest left screen – it’s not a big deal to swipe from the bottom. The clean UI and the app drawer are nice, but I just love Apex so much more.

      • eod nhoj

        You have touchless controls in the sense that you can say “Ok Google” from the home screen and it’ll launch Google Now, but the phone has to be unlocked, it won’t wake from sleep like the Moto X.

  • Intellectua1

    How about releasing that dang Google Caller ID for atleast all 4.4 phones..

  • ferrari187

    so is there anything else new in this update?

    • ferrari187

      answered my own question.

      “No official changelog, but we’re now seeing a Google Now Launcher if you have a Nexus 5 or the Google Experience Launcher (GoogleHome.apk) installed on your device.

      Pretty sure that the “TV & video” section in the magic wand in Google Now is new as well.”

      • JSo

        You’re right. I can now pick my TV provider. Cool stuff.

        • joejoe5709

          Hmmm cool. Good call. Thanks. :-)

  • liz

    I have a rooted lg g2. With the 4.2.2 custom rom…I use application organizer because the folders arnt big enough but I can’t change the icons so I use go launcher with open mic and it’s works perfect I use Google now widget for my cards and open much runs I n back ground so OK Google works continually

  • Raven

    Choice is great, that is why I love Android, but I still much prefer Nova or even stock to this new Google Now Launcher. Now, if they would add some theming to Google Now, I might give it a chance, but I just can’t stand looking at all of those white backgrounds for any longer than I have too. Give me a nice light on dark “night” theme for Google Now and then we can talk. (Also why I can’t stand using Google+ or Hangouts any longer than I have to.)

  • Kurt

    Google Now Launcher is telling me “PLACEHOLDER TEXT: Google Search not found even though it’s installed and working. Any suggestions?

    • Cael

      Phone is probably not compatible. I have the Droid 4 and get that.

      • ddh819

        shoot i was about to ask if anyone tried a stock droid razr. its probably going to be like the droid 4.

  • Nayners

    Now, if only we could import more columns and rows, it would be perfect.

  • Edward Montano

    Waiting on my Nexus 5 in the mail damn cold weather delaying my phone when i live in sunny SW Arizona its 70 outside what is a snow storm I’ve never experienced one for more than 20 mins ha.

  • Animate

    Silly question:

    If I install this, will it behave like other launchers once they are installed? Can I switch back and forth between launchers if I choose to?

    • Philip J. Fry

      Yes.

      • Animate

        Thanks!

    • liz

      Yes you can it’s easy

  • breadable

    Thanks for the info Kellen! Now I have a quick afternoon project

  • Manthas

    I know it’s silly, but I really like the Droid Command Center widget on my Droid Maxx, but it doesn’t work with third party launchers; I wonder if this one would be an exception. I doubt it, but it would be nice to have at least one additional option, but maintain the functionality.

    • Steve B

      You’re right, that’s silly.

  • NexusMan

    I do like the fact that it will allow importing from your old launcher. I had the Nexus 5 launcher installed on a previous Moto X, and the only pain with it was having to many duplicate the setup/layout, etc between the 2 launchers.

  • jimbob

    Question which I have researched quite thoroughly but not found an answer to – Is there a third-party launcher yet which has the hot word capability from the home screen?

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    Every device with access to play store should be considered a google experience device. Just figuring out their naming scheme and the end of nexus rumors with exclusive nexus software. This may be a sign although i think they said the ubiquitous “for now”….

  • NexusMan

    The name was never changed. Google never publicly put a name to the launcher that launched exclusively on the Nexus 5. “Gel,” or “Google Experience Launcher,” was a name made up by bloggers and enthusiasts.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Could have sworn both “Google Experience Launcher” and “GEL” were ALL OVER the source code. So while Google may never have announced those names, they weren’t made up by bloggers and enthusiasts, either.

      • Ryuuie

        No, you’re right, GEL is in the source code.

        • NexusMan

          We’re saying 2 different things. The NAME of the launcher was never GEL. “Key Lime Pie,” was all over the source code of Android 4.4….and we know how that ended up.

          • Ryuuie

            No.

            “GEL” is the internal name of the Google Now Launcher. Thus, people who went through the source code pulled the name from there. It was based in fact, not fiction. Google may has never publicly called it the Google Experience Launcher, but they have done so internally. That was the previous name, whether you believe it or not. They had to name it something and “GEL” is clearly what it was named. Thus, the public name became “Google Experience Launcher”. Google clearly didn’t give a crap what people called it so that became the name.

            Key Lime Pie was in the source code of 4.4 because: 1. it was meant to throw the media off. Google knows sites like Android Police dig into the code of their apps and operating systems. and 2. the name was changed in secret, none of the Android developers knew it had changed to Kit Kat so they just kept using “klp” and “Key Lime Pie”. In fact, it was done last minute, as confirmed by Google and Kit Kat themselves.

    • Ryuuie

      GEL is in the source code, it’s not made up. It was just never announced publicly as “GEL”, but that’s what the name originally was.

    • KingofPing

      *laughing*

      *wipes tear from eye* I bet you wrote all that with a straight face, too. Comedic genius, man. Congratulations.

  • BillySuede

    this should end all the talk over touchwiz.

    • James Kane

      how so?

      • Philip J. Fry

        The better question is, how is it not horrible?

        • jimbob

          Touche, salesman.

      • BillySuede

        slap GEL over the touchwiz launcher. less to complain about.

    • Philip J. Fry

      Doubt it. Touchwiz is still horrible.

      • James Kane

        Then don’t use it

    • tomn1ce

      Why? Other launchers have been around for a long time now. On my G-Nexus I had Nova Launcher Prime and now with the Note 3. Nova Launcher Prime was one of the first apps I downloaded onto my Note 3.

      • John Legere

        If only launchers fixed everything.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Why does everyone think TouchWiz is only a launcher?

      • Ryuuie

        Because that’s how carriers, retailers, store employees, and Samsung sells it. They never mention that it’s deeper, to the general public (who actually know it’s running Android) it’s just a “skin”.

        • John Legere

          Lol how do all these people get jobs.

          • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

            It’s why I gave up on buying my phones from carriers and switched to T-Mobile. So I could buy and manage my phones myself, and never have to deal with retail employees.

          • Ryuuie

            :v They’re coached to just “dumb it down” for people. “Skin” is easier to understand than “The framework and internal files of the Android OS have been changed to that Samsung can customize it with a different button style, UI, and core apps.”

        • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

          Yes, but even if it WERE a skin, that’s still a lot more than a launcher. A skin pervades every element of UI. The navigation bar, the dropdown, the layout of it, the entire settings screen, the fonts, the style of buttons and UI elements throughout, etc. That’s without touching on all the background framework and additional apps in TouchWiz. If it were JUST a skin, that’s still a massive amount more than JUST a launcher.

          I know you weren’t arguing with me, but I’m just pointing out that it should be painfully obvious to anyone with a cursory glance at Android to tell it’s more than the launcher.

          • Ryuuie

            Oh, no. I meant the majority of others. They only know it as a “skin” because that’s the simplest way for them to understand it. I’ve worked with the general public before selling phones…it’s a nightmare. :| Saying “a skin” and they instantly “know” what you mean.

  • Shaunwin

    It will be hard to beat Nova Launcher…

    • Intellectua1

      I agree but with custom icons, resizable widgets, custom grid I’d switch.. I think I can give up the scrollable dock

    • rals

      That’s exactly it, dont know what morons down voted you but Nova is still light years ahead GEL. The very fact that with few gesture commands i can pull up google now just as fast as GEL, and other shortcuts. The only benefit is the “OK, Google” command which really you need to be in the homescreen to activate.

  • Stephen D

    Google REALLY needs to allow grid size customization. I like the stock launcher, but a 4×4 grid on a 5.7 inch screen looks ridiculous.

    • John Legere

      I can’t read

      • James Kane

        He said he uses stock!

        • John Legere

          Yeah i missed that. Touchwiz does the lame 4x also.

          • Stephen D

            Which, with all the useless junk they throw into TW, you think they would at least increase the grid size on the Note series. There is just so much wasted screen space.

          • John Legere

            Yeah i never understood why they’d keep it the same. Whole point of a big display is to show more.

          • James Kane

            Touch wiz is lame indeed.

          • John Legere

            I’m not sure what you’re getting at with that. It’s exactly what i said. Thanks for clarifying, i was thinking maybe somebody went back into time and changed it.

    • Daeshaun Griffiths

      the grid on the nexus 4 was nice.

    • mikeym0p

      All of Android looks kinda blown up on the larger screens. My friend N5 next to my N4 looks WORSE, because the icons, the status bar, they’re all too big. I told him to edit the dpi and it looks awesome now.

      • Intellectua1

        And that there is one of the main reasons I root my phone, to change the dpi

        • mikeym0p

          Yea, I hope OEMs start really nitpicking on our screens. DPI and Color are so important.

      • Chris Henry

        LG G2 is the only one that is not blown up!

        • http://www.impulsivestudios.com/ Justin Myers

          Mine is. Everything is huge. Lol

        • Thomas O’Brien

          Do you mean in general? Because the app drawer on my G2 looks terrible…

      • Boblank84

        agree nexus 5 stock should have been about 440 not 480 imo. 480 seems way too big for me. im using 400 right now and really like it.

        • Greg Montaño

          400? I like my S3 set to 220!

      • Hgammel

        My HTC one looks perfect to me

        • mikeym0p

          I agree, HTC’s SLCD screns are always leading the pack. I would argue they’ve had the best looking screens on their flagship every year. I find sAMOLED gross.

    • JSo

      Xposed and Gravity Box

      • charesa39

        Couldn’t agree more. This plus lowering the DPI a bit made my N5 perfect.

        • Avril111

          My Uncle Zachary
          recently got a 9 month old Mercedes-Benz CL-Class CL63 AMG only from working
          off a home pc… go now B­i­g­4­1­.­ℂ­o­m

      • Thomas O’Brien

        So here’s the thing…in gravity box, when I select additional rows/columns, they don’t show up in the launcher…how do I make that happen…

        • JSo

          Restart the launcher. I guess you can go into the app info and force stop the app. Or just reboot.

          • Thomas O’Brien

            Any thoughts on making the app drawer look nice?

          • JSo

            I dont think there is anything to do about the app drawer right now. I dont have an issue with it though. I like the big icons. Maybe get over to the gravity box forum and see if the developer can add more options. He keeps adding more and more to the module. The last option he added for the launcher was “resize any widget”. Maybe he will add more later.

          • NorCalGuy

            Change your DPI to 380 and you will get 7 including the menu button on the home screen and 5×6 on the app drawer

      • Thomas O’Brien

        Also, does gravity box allow you to change the rows/columns in the app drawer? It looks fine on the home screen with gravity box, but looks like hell in the app drawer

    • Intellectua1

      I was just about to post that.. It also needs a couple other customization options also then I’d dump Nova. I’d really like to have the side swap to Google Now option

    • morgan boyle

      im just waiting for a custom launcher based off this launcher.

    • jamaall

      I actually like the big icons on my droid maxx. The small icons on there stock Motorola icons don’t look as good imo

    • Pdiddy187

      You should see it on the N10. lulz!

    • Josh Campbell

      S3 and Note 8.0 both have great grid sizes for their respective screen sizes.

  • DJyoSNOW

    I’ll have to read up on this since my initial thought is ….redundant

    • DJyoSNOW

      So this would be best on a nexus phone?

  • Jonathan Bunch

    would be super duper awesome if it allowed for icon packs

    • Philip J. Fry

      That’s the only reason I will not use it.

      • James Kane

        use it silly!

        • Philip J. Fry

          No.

          • James Kane

            OK THEN!

    • http://www.kovdev.com/ kover

      If only…

    • Steve B

      xposed…

      • spearman792

        What module does this?

        • JSo

          Unicon from the play store

          • Steve B

            This. It used to be called Icon Themer.

          • spearman792

            Thanks! (But $2 for this?? That’s a little ridiculous)

          • Steve B

            If you’re a cheap ass you can get his free version from XDA.

          • charesa39

            Isn’t it the old, outdated app (when it used to be called Icon Themer)? It looks like the XDA one is v1.5, while Unicon in the Play Store is v1.6.6.

          • spearman792

            Yeah this is correct. I just tried the xda version, and it didn’t work. I edited my above comment to say that, but it’s awaiting moderation (I think because it contains a link?)

          • charesa39

            I don’t mind spending the $2 to buy this app, but it looks like it hasn’t been updated since December. I’m waiting/hoping for the dev to add in the ability to change individual icons. Reading some of the reviews for that app, it looks like some apps get assigned the wrong icon, and there’s no way to fix it as of now (ie. the Facebook icon accidentally assigns the Facebook Messenger icon)

          • El_Big_CHRIS

            +1 for Unicon. Worth the $

    • 3M4NU31

      With a rooted phone, download Xposed Framework and then buy Unicon from the play store.

    • MustWarnOthers

      I used something called Desktop Visualizer. I can’t recall if it required root or not, but that allowed me to use the Lumos Icons with GEL, at least on my homescreens.

      • Philip J. Fry

        Its now called unicon iirc

        • MustWarnOthers

          Hmm. I don’t think it’s the same thing. This is free on the play store and doesn’t require Xposed.

          • Philip J. Fry

            Ahhh, you’re right. My bad.

    • MustWarnOthers

      This is with Desktop visualizer

      http://i.imgur.com/OHRJ1wi.png