Google Experience renamed to Google Now Launcher, imports settings from your old home screen too

by: Robert TriggsFebruary 6, 2014

Google Now Launcher logo 710px

The Google Experience launcher has so far been left as an exclusive to the Nexus 5, unless you decided to side load the APK file yourself, but a new update suggests that we could be edging closer to a release for other devices too.

Through yesterday’s update to Google Search, it seems that a new name for the launcher arrived as well. The Google Experience launcher has now been renamed as the “Google Now” launcher, which makes sense considering that Google Now functionality is built in as a key part of the experience.

Another interesting addition to the launcher is a change in the setup procedure. The setup now asks whether or not you’d like to import icons and folders from your old home screen.

Google Now Launcher Setup

Strangely the feature seems a bit hit and miss. I didn’t receive the same prompt on my Galaxy S2, but that could be because I’m running a third party launcher and an Android 4.2.2 ROM, which the Google Now Launcher simply might not be able to recognise. Even so, the launcher still works a treat on my handset.

The inclusion of an import feature suggests that Google could be planning to make this product more widely available, but we still don’t know if or when the launcher will actually make it onto the Play Store.

If you’d like to test it out for yourself, follow the installation guide below.

Installation guide:

  1. Allow installation of apps from unknown sources
  2. Install the latest update for Google Search [Download Link]
  3. Install the latest GoogleHome.apk from the Nexus 5 [Download Link]
  4. Set the Google Now Launcher as your new launcher
  5. Follow the setup guide

The only downside I experienced with the Google Now launcher is its lack of customization options. Fans of ADW or Nova Launcher are unlikely to find Google Now as a suitable alternative, but this latest update is hopefully the first of many, which could see Google Now become a viable alternative.

If you’d like a closer look at the ins-and-outs of the launcher’s features before making the leap to install the APK, then check out our impressions video below.

  • Jayfeather787


    • psmack

      I’ve just installed this launcher
      i want to remove this launcher on my galaxy tab2 how to do?

      • Jayfeather787

        What do you mean? Uninstall the google now launcher? Simply go into settings, go to apps, click installed, find the app, and then press uninstall.

  • Tanner Hoyt

    I wish I could say I was excited for this, but I am one of those people that installed the APKs right after the Nexus 5 launched so I’ve had the GNL for a while now. I am excited though to see it coming to the Play Store so other people can get it, as well as because this likely means updates!

    • Dimitar Gospodinov

      What phone are you using the launcher with?
      Are you experienceing battery drain from Google Services?
      If you are running 4.4.2 do you have WiFi always on in the battery stats?

      • Tanner Hoyt

        I have a Moto X running 4.4. I have been using the launcher for several months now and have experienced no drop in battery life.

        As for the 4.4.2 question, I wish I could help but I’m not running 4.4.2.

        • Dimitar Gospodinov

          Oh you are running the Moto X withch has the low powered core…maybe that’s why there are no battery drops…
          I am using the launcher on a GS3 and I had to disable Google Now to be able to get thru the day…now I can go for 2 days with no charge…
          Thanks for taking the time to answer man! Have a good day.

          • Tanner Hoyt

            I had a GS3 prior to November. I was also running the GNL on it. I also saw a drop in battery life as well as noticeable lag in the launcher. I recommend installing CyanogenMod via their new installer and then installing the GNL. It should improve battery life at least a bit.

            And you’re very welcome :)

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            I am running OmniROM 4.4.2 but I gues it needs a low power core to run right (without drain). Anyway Google Now is not that usefull when you are outside of the US so I don’t use it that much.

  • Evan Wickes

    y r u running 4.2.2? (u write for android authority.)

    • Phil Rigby


      • Evan Wickes

        just wondering y he chose 4.2.2 instead of 4.4.2. google made a good bit of improvements from 4.2 & all every major rom developer is working on 4.4.2.

  • Joe Maly

    Doesn’t seem to work on my Xperia Z running 4.2.2. Keep getting a parsing error. Oh well…

  • Lewis Vicinus

    this is nothing new…it came on my Galaxy Note 2 with the update to 4.1.2 and remained after the update to 4.3

  • Jayfeather787

    I think it’s a pretty good launcher.

  • Hoa Vuong

    the ok google on the home screen works for my lg g pad 8.3 now

  • how long does anyone here think it will take for Google to push their search app update to the play store? I’ve gotten all the other Google App updates just not Search. I would just side-load it and be done with it. but then my OCD will kick in when Its on 3.2 but when i look at the Play Store Search app it still will say 3.1 … If i side load the search app will it update on the play store still or will it stay on 3.1 and everytime theres a new update ill just have to side load from now on??

  • Arijit Ghosh

    Whenever i launch the app, Google search force closes and nothing happens. What should I do?

  • Miro Markarian

    I have been experiencing serious lag and battery drain on my Nexus 5 since the update. The scrolling wall paper doesn’t work and the battery just drains at a rate of around 15% per hour. I uploaded the video here. You can take a look.

  • Benjamin Moore

    What version of andriod do you have to be running in order for this to work?

  • dj

    Does this launcher root your device?

    • SContrerasMer

      no, you can only root with a custom recovery or ROM

  • shizai
  • apolatan16

    Hi,could someone help me and tell me why can’t I install the google search update on my Xperia Z? I tried it several times and I’m getting an error and I quote “App is not installed”.I managed to install Google Home but not the update.If anyone knows how to fix that please help,thanks in advance.

  • Viqta_

    thank you for that apk for stock android, saving up to buy a nexus

  • Abhishek Chandak

    This is awesome guys..
    Keep up the good work

  • gettysburg11s

    I just installed this on my Galaxy S4. It seems to run fine. I really like the larger icons, and it seems a bit faster than Nova launcher. It would be nice to see more options for customizing.

  • Daniel von Seckendorff

    I don’t know why, but I get “Unfortunately, Google Search has stopped.” Can anyone help with this? ZTE Valet, Android 4.1.2

  • kimoz17

    Great! :D