Google on Wednesday officially released its Google Now Launcher to the Play store; the launcher was previously only available for the Nexus 5. The release is very limited in its compatibility, only available for Nexus and Google Play Edition devices running KitKat at this time. Users previously had to side load the GNL in order to get it up and running, but the arrival of an official app obviously makes it much easier to install.
Google’s launcher increases the size of icons, and also makes Google Now just a swipe away, accessed by swiping right when on your primary home screen. Other key features include the “OK Google” always-listening capability, faster search, cleaner app drawer and what Google says is an “intuitive wallpaper picker.” If you already have vanilla Android on your Nexus or GPE device, the only real benefit is being able to access Google Now in a different way. So if that’s something you absolutely need, by all means install the launcher.
Reading through some of the reviews, many Nexus 4 users are complaining about how the launcher scales to the device’s smaller screen. We haven’t been able to verify its functionality on the Nexus 4, so we can’t confirm if the experience is negatively impacted. It’s unclear if Google will open this up to other devices down the road, but if your handset is supported, you can head over to the Google Play store and download it.