When Google launched the Nexus 5 late last year, it brought us what the search juggernaut calls the Google Now Launcher. It was a new home screen and app launcher that gave Google Now its own home panel. But it was only available for that single device. Today, Google brings that same launcher to Google Play in the form of a free download that’s available to more – but not even close to all – Android devices.
The Google Now Launcher gives Google a way to update the home screen experience without having to update Android itself, a philosophy Google applies to its apps, such as Gmail and YouTube. In addition, it makes the navigation and status bars translucent In addition, the Google Now Launcher allows for greater access to Google Now, the company’s artificially intelligent assistant. Saying “OK Google” brings up Google Now’s voice search functionality, while swiping to the farthest left home panel will bring you to Google Now itself.
Unfortunately, the Google Now Launcher only works on a very narrow list of devices. It is available for other Nexus products, as well as Google Play Edition devices, which include devices from Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola. The device also needs to be on Android 4.4 KitKat or later.
No word on whether more devices will be added, though we wouldn’t bank on it.