The days of having to side load the Google Now Launcher may be officially over. On Friday, the search giant formerly made it available for anyone running Android 4.1 and above.

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Here are the key features of the Google Now Launcher for those who have not tried it out before or for those who have always had it with their Nexus devices:
  • Google Now on your home screen - it's easier than ever to get just the right information at just the right time.
  • Just say "Ok Google" - when you're on your home screen, just say "Ok Google" to trigger voice input. Then say your search query. Or tell your phone what to do, like send a text message, get directions, or play a song.
  • Faster search - tap the search box and you can enter your query immediately.
  • Easy access to your favorite Google products and services, like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps.
  • Larger viewing area - the status and navigation bars are now translucent, so your wallpaper pops from every pixel, and is even visible when you expand your apps drawer (when supported by device).
  • Intuitive wallpaper picker - select any image that's stored on your device, or in the cloud. Position and preview your wallpaper before you set it.
launcher1Other launchers like Nova and even Cyanogenmod's Trebuchet has slowly been incorporating these Google experience features into their own launchers with their own customizations. Google's launcher is vanilla in nature with few customizations available. Users can set up their home screens as they wish and set up widgets. Outside of that, more advanced features will come from those other launchers.

For those that like the pure Google experience and have felt left out by locked out by third party OEM's, this launcher will not fully get rid of their UI, but it does provide a nice alternative experience. It does give users the ability to trigger voice input, and it does have Google Now as a screen which is always available.

I will say the app as it comes purely from the Play Store runs smoother than the sideloaded version that I ran previously. It lacks power features so I don't know how long I'll be using it, but I will enjoy the novelty for now.

If you're a fan of this very clean, basic launcher, let us know what you think.







Google Now Launcher is available for Free in the Google Play Store.​