Google Now Launcher update brings Material Design tweaks to KitKat and Jelly Bean

by: Andrew GrushJanuary 13, 2015


A new update is rolling out for the Google Search app that brings a new look to the Google Now Launcher. Well, at least it is new if you’re someone running something older than Lollipop.

For those running Android 4.1 through 4.4, the latest update will bring Material Design elements to the Google Play launcher. Now before you get ahead of yourself, this doesn’t mean all MD design changes like the new navigation buttons, but there are a few changes to the aesthetics including slightly improved animations, the white app launcher button, a white color in the Google Search bar and improvements to the Google Now area of the launcher including a slide-in panel that lets you switch Google Now settings and accounts.

If you’ve yet to see these changes rollout to your device yet, be patient, as it should only be a matter of a few more days. Already have the latest update? What do you think of the changes to the Google Now Launcher? What do you think of Material Design in general? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

  • Emran

    I HATE the white search bar !
    Liked the older (transparent) one .

    • Lauge Feierskov

      I did too until I got it. Now I like it better than the old one.

    • Phazonclash

      I feel your pain, I hate it too. Nova Launcher let you choose the old KitKat, Jellybean or Ice Cream Sandwich Search Bars though

    • I personally like the Apex Launcher, as it gives me more flexibility on how I want search bar to look like, as well as the size and what slides/screens it appears on. The Nova Launcher is also a great choice.

      • Caleb Johns

        But no one wants to use a third party bulky launcher mate.

        • Lubosko

          except nova or apex launcher are both less bulky and resource hungry than google now launcher

          • AnonAndroid

            In my opinion, Apex Launcher is the only launcher from the Big Three that really stood out!

        • Well, then you are stuck mate.

    • dafuq

      I’m the material search bar and I feel offended.

      • reda zaher

        you are the material design…dafuq

        • dafuq

          I’m your father!

          • reda zaher

            WHAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!! *mind explodes from multiple brainfarts *

    • That’s racist.

  • Satongi

    Does it fix the blurry icons though?

    • Alex S

      what do you mean blurry icons?

    • What blurry icons you need new glasses.

      • Satongi

        No, I dont, you dick. QHD screens have a known problem of not scalong correctly, look it up, most of lg g3 users are complaining.

        • Here have a sniffle rag, no need to cry

          • Satongi

            No, not better. Moar pls

  • mandisadisquses

    I picked up my phone and noticed that the previously blue/transparent app launcher and search bar are now white.
    Then I restarted my phone because I thought it must be in “safe mode” or something.
    It looks unfinished.
    It actually looks like the beta of the previous home screen.

    The Google Now page does look rather jazzy.
    But the old one was just fine.
    I like less.
    It’s more.

    • Kurt Kaufman

      There seem to be changes in the way that Google Search responds to things like creating calendar events by voice. This will take a little time getting used to. Perhaps there are some official Google help pages that are fully updated?

  • crutchcorn

    Does it let you change icon pack?

    • joshfaber

      nova? uh yeah most custom launchers do

      • crutchcorn

        No, Google Now Launcher. It does not

  • Z A

    The “OK Google” everywhere breaks the Voice Recorder on my Galaxy S4. When I start the recorder, it says the mic is being used.

    • Intellectua1 2x


  • RuTz

    The design is different which I’m indifferent about. The Commute voice searches are more detailed, but I can’t tell whether the Weather has improved.

    • DrDoppio

      The weather has worsened, I now have to tap on the bar below the weather tile to get hourly forecast, and not directly on the tile like I am used to.

  • Intellectua1 2x

    Google Now Launcher needs to add some customization, that launcher is really lacking the basics. Google needs to get it together.

  • D-Rob

    UGH!!! I HATE the white app pages!!!!

    • Saqb

      Why don’t you get the Nova Launcher. The free version allows the user to adjust the intensity of the white cards in the app drawer. I have reduced it to 50% so it doesn’t look as bright and, looks good rather. Check it out!

  • Nick Eglezos

    Got it earlier today. It sucks!i liked the old style. Now it is very inconsistent with my KitKat look and feel. I don’t like it at all, but i don’t think i can go back.

    • dafuq

      You can just uninstall the update in the app settings.

    • Lorenzo

      You can go back by removing all Google Search updated in the Play Store. Keep in mind that this will completely reset your launcher to a factory default. All your widgets and folders will be gone.

      I learned the hard way.

      • Rahul Ela

        Hi, pls tell me how.. I’m willing to lose my launcher changes… I need that old default look…

  • daffydkjones

    White search bar is disgusting. Ruins the aesthetic of the phone

  • Miho

    That design is a tragedy

  • Bojan Tomic

    Well, this is old news… O.o It’s been out for like a week.

    • Josh Miller

      Just got it today. It’s probably rolled out differently by country.

  • Daron

    Looks like it also changed the wallpaper in my app draw. I had it at ‘no wallpaper’, i.e. black(uses less battery than colors), and it’s now white, which is too bright for my liking. Cannot find a way to change the app draw background. It used to change to whatever you changed the home page to. Certainly hope Google does not think this is a good thing!!!

  • Not crazy about all the white backgrounds. And the new google update made the Assist features of my moto x 2013 in drive mode useless. It has made the listening feature unusable. Hoping for a patch soon from Motorola. Also,all the new white asthetics reminds me of iOS 7/8. Which I didn’t like, and was a big reason I left apple…. Was really excited about lollipop until I got this update. I went back to stock launcher until I figure out what I want to do

  • brecolton

    I hate it! I prefer the older transparent version. The white background is too harsh!! Very disappointed

  • Daryn

    I’m with @Emran – I HATE the white search bar!!!!

  • Hansen Derkin

    This is cool!

  • sanju

    I hate it….

  • KeyserSoze

    This flat non-transparent new look is total shit. The apps drawer and search bar is now loud and glaring fuqing WHITE! Damn it all to hell, got to find a way to uninstall this thing.

  • foryourenlightenment

    I want the transparent interface back wtf

  • NWO

    I uninstalled this update on my Nexus 5 and it soft bricked it. I had to do a factory reset in my recovery to get it working again.

  • Ajey

    Nova launcher has the Lollipop icons and animation for more than a month or so ! ;)

  • reda zaher

    i love stock android and i use google now launcher all the time but they didn’t do what i expected with what material design actually means (ex:the app drawer animates upwards not in a circle animation like in the nexus devices) an i feel pretty good with nova launcher cause of more flexibility although i will miss the quick swipe to google now

  • Josh Miller

    White search bar and ‘all apps pages’ are disgusting. If you are going to rejoin something to *remove transparency*, you have to make it optional or at least add a setting.

  • StormShadow

    Ugh google updates take ages to come here in Jordan… where can I get the apk file for this??

  • R4P70R

    Nothing changed here, I was on lollipop

  • Vic

    I am not a fan of the new look so far in the launcher. My concerns come from the fact that I ran a Verizon Galaxy Nexus for many years, and it suffered some terrible burn in. The white backgrounds will be too much for any screen even if you don’t leave your device on the home screen very long.

    If the option exists to modify the background color I have not seen it yet.

  • Ugly.

  • DrDoppio

    The white search bar and app drawer are jarring. Ever heard of transparency, Google? How about an option to change the color?

    Looks like I’ll be changing the launcher…

  • Swooooooon

    Am I the only person who really genuinely prefers this solid design over the transparency? It feels sharper, more refined and more premium than the transparency and plain ol’ darkened app drawer. It’s also different, something fresh and unique after ageing transparency became a part of many other operating systems and design philosophies for other big companies.

  • Afif rohiki makhtum annas

    Very big icon here, using G2

  • Jim McDermott

    The white is a step backwards! It is ugly. Bring back the transparent or at least give the option to choose what the interface looks like.

  • wintermyst

    I don’t like the white apps background at all. I prefer the black

  • bigbrat

    I hate the White bar search so much that I uninstalled that update and disabled any updates from google so it does not come back!

  • Kentzee

    the white in the drawer & bar have ruined the look….. i much preferred this launcher b4 this update….. uninstall now…. . Nova Launcher (only becoz of the clear setup)

  • Vasil Tabakov

    I also hate and dislike the white shit …

  • abp

    Before Google takes decision to modify they should take a review or rather perform a survey from the end users and then implement the stuff, Seriously the white background is not at all convenient . kindly roll back the transparent feature where it makes us happy to see our mobile and in my case I had purchased new one recently and very soon this disaster happens.

    Google should understand if the users are not happy for what reason are they developing the applications. What the hell!!!! if this comment reaches them in any way then they should understand that roll back should be their utmost priority, till then no shit have to bear this F***

  • Vicki

    I hate the white search bar and white background on apps screen. I prefer clear!!

  • Julian

    I came from CM12 back to stock 4.4.4 KitKat, because I kind of missed the stability and the performance on the Nexus 5 with KitKat. I installed updates from the playstore to get all the google apps up and running in the latest version. Then I closed the playstore and the google now launcher updated itself. After the look and feel of the “Material Design” on KitKat, I immediately installed Nova Launcher and I am very satisfied now. @Google you guys seriously need to make surveys or some kind of preview for your users, if you plan to make cosmetical changes for your products…

  • Tomi_Ohl

    White… Like in gingerbread days… :D

  • I_O Psychologist

    I hate it. I’m more annoyed at the fact that my home button no longer takes me home, but instead right into Google now. I do not have the words to articulate my rage at this change, and at my inability to make it go away. If anyone knows, please share.

  • madcg

    Has to be the most intrusive software ever. Completely sucks.

  • marshal

    i too don’t like the white menu background

  • Gable Raque

    App developers are falling over themselves to get this. Why do they settle for crappy Material Design, with it’s loud primary colours more suited to a kindergarten and with a theme that would only excite a six year-old?