Google’s next big Android update may introduce a completely reimagined Android launcher, including big changes to the notification tray and multitasking. According to Android Police, the search giant is looking to tweak the typical navigation bar to feature a big Google logo in the middle, along with an app grid that may “rule out widgets.” Despite some of these bigger redesigns seeming far-fetched, Android Police still says it is confident these changes could happen down the road, though things could obviously change between now and an eventual release.
The biggest change will allegedly come in the form of an iOS-style app grid, with Google opting to eliminate the app drawer. If so, that would leave little room for widgets to exist on any screens; the experience would essentially be like what you’d find on an iPhone, with your icons existing in a grid layout so they’re easily accessible.
That, to us, sounds like sacrilege in the Android space and would take away what is one of its biggest differentiators. There’d still be a dock at the bottom, though the app drawer button would all but disappear.
Meanwhile, Google is also looking to change up its notification tray to make it look more like Google Now. Notifications will supposedly be presented in a card-like layout, with the highest priority cards, including important Google Now alerts, showing up first, and lower priority showing up below that. “This revised notification shade would give richer meaning to notifications’ priority levels, and greater separation for users tired of a cluttered shade,” Android Police said.
On that note, Google Now will again be activated by a swipe up from the bottom, rather than existing in a screen to the left. No big changes are expected to hit the personal assistant, though Google is supposedly working on making the “OK Google” hot word available from almost every screen—hopefully like the implementation in the Moto X, which allows users to call on Google from anywhere, even when the screen is off.
Finally, Google is also said to be making tweaks to multitasking. Instead of using stacked thumbnails that can be swiped away, Google is working on an interface that would stack the cards on top of one another, with the ability to dismiss an app by swiping down. Android Police said the new multitasking would also be a user’s “primary point of entry to the launcher,” so take that for what it’s worth.
Some of the changes seem probable, such as the new navigation bar and notification tray. But an iOS-style app grid? New multitasking? Android Police makes it clear Google could simply be experimenting with these changes, which means they might not ever see the light of day in an actual release. But what if in the future Google ditched the customizability of Android? What if you could no longer use widgets? I can already see the angry mobs.