As it expands to smartwatches and iOS devices, Google Now is perhaps even more of a priority for Google than Android is. Thanks to a new update in the Play Store, the Google Now Launcher — the app that lets you integrate Google Now with your main home screen — can now be installed on any mobile running Android 4.1+, with no workarounds required.
When Google debuted the Nexus 5 it brought with it a slick new Google Now Launcher to replace the stock Android equivalent. This launcher puts Google Now one swipe away from your main home screen and applies the “OK Google” voice shortcut across the front end of the OS. The launcher quickly became available to all Nexus and Google Play Edition devices.
Until now, however, you had to jump through a series of hoops to get the Google Now Launcher installed on other Android phones. With the new update to the app, you can finally install it on any mobile with Android Jelly Bean 4.1+ installed. The launcher also moves the widget control system and hides home screens that aren’t in use.
With apps like Gmail and services such as Google Play having been spun out of the Android code to allow faster updates and more widespread adoption, at this stage the underlying mobile operating system is mostly concerned with under-the-hood features and core design guidelines. If you consider that the Google Now Launcher is little more than the Google Search app with a home screen tacked on to it, it’s clear to see the direction that Google is going — Google Now on as many Android and iOS devices as possible.
If you want to try out the app for yourself, head to the Google Play Store.