Google Now on Tap Discover mode-AA

If you ever wondered why you can’t set Nova Launcher to open Google Now with a swipe from the left like you can with Google’s own launcher, Kevin Barry has an explanation.

Barry, founder of TeslaCoil, the company behind the hugely popular Nova Launcher, talked about the limitations that Google currently sets on the Google Now API.

As you’d expect, Barry would love to give users the option to add a Google Now screen. After all Nova Launcher and Nova Launcher Prime are packed with customization options. Adding swipe-to-Google Now would be a no-brainer.

The problem is Google restricts the use of the Google Now API to system apps. In fact, it’s possible that even OEMs encounter some limitations in this area.

There’s only one Android manufacturer that’s currently experimenting with integrating Google Now into its proprietary launcher: that’s Sony, who recently added the feature to a beta version of its Xperia Home launcher (the feature was removed in a latter update). Barry speculates that Sony might have even licensed the functionality from Google.

But there’s always the root option, right? Not quite. Barry explained why TeslaCoil won’t give root users the option to enable swipe-to-Google Now. That would require installing Nova Launcher as a system app, which could antagonize Google and affect key functionality like the ability to receive OTA updates. Plus, the feature could stop working at any time because of changes in the Now API, be them intentional or not.

The creator of Nova Launcher is somehow optimistic that Google will eventually open up the Google Now API to third-party developers, though he cautions that the wait may take years.

Until Google lifts its restrictions, Google Now remains accessible to Nova users with a simple long press on the home key (hold and swipe before Marshmallow). You can also map Google Now to a swipe gesture, but you’ll need to have the premium version for that.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • Mijo Bažoka

    You smell that kids? Smells like Android – like free….oh wait…

    • Jadoei1

      This isn’t about android my friend

    • Yoghi Adhi Sri Bawono

      Android and Google is different subject. Android is an open-sourced OS from Google. Google-Apps are applications from Google. XD

  • Marty

    [Apple smiles approvingly]
    Interesting. I suppose we Android users need to remind Google that Android is an open system.

    • JosephHindy

      Google Now isn’t part of Android, it’s Google’s proprietary app. Android is the OS, and the Google Apps are not part of that. While it sucks, there is no ethical argument to making Google Apps like Android

      • Android Developer

        Is there any way though, to ask them to be more open and offer API for Google now? or something?

        • JosephHindy

          That’s pretty much what the creator of Nova Launcher was doing when he posted the writing lol. The point I was trying to make is that using the “this is an open platform” argument is invalid, because Google Now isn’t a part of Android and doesn’t necessarily have to adhere to the “open platform” argument.

          In reality, Google’s Android is closer to an OEM skin than it is to AOSP Android. Google Now integration is like HTC’s Blinkfeed, or Samsung’s S Voice. It’s built into the OS, but it’s not part of the OS, if that makes sense.

          • Android Developer

            I mean, how do I contact them? If it’s in a forum, I could star the thread hoping that the more people do it, the more chance Google will consider adding this feature.

          • JosephHindy

            I don’t know if a thread or something like that exists. If Google wants to do it, they’ll do, but it’ll likely take time. Remember, they have a launcher that uses it which competes with every other launcher. A little off giving the competition your only unique feature eh? :)

          • Android Developer

            Offering this service will lead to more views on their own apps, just like in their own launcher. I don’t think it matters if their launcher is popular because of uniqueness of this feature, because it’s serving the same goal – more people using Google’s services.
            They could even add a rule that it’s only available to developers if it’s offered for free.

          • JosephHindy

            Google Now is already baked in Google’s Android. Phones come with it anyway.

          • Android Developer

            This is not the same as showing the cards in third party apps, though for users, it’s just 2 steps from any app they are on: long press home button, and press the left button of the G icon.

          • JosephHindy

            I didn’t say it was. I said the motivation for Google to do this isn’t really there.

          • Android Developer

            More ways to reach google’s services (from third party apps too) is always a good thing for google.
            Anyway, thank you.

          • JosephHindy

            That is impossible to determine for sure. Google already has their apps installed on every Google-approved Android device (which is everything except the Chinese phones, Amazon’s devices, and whatever Cyanogen is working on these days). Their apps get TONS of exposure already.

    • Adamatic™

      Android is open source. Google Now (more specifically, the Google app) is not. Google Now and Android are not the same.

      [Edit]: Sorry for the double post. My page wasn’t refreshed and I didn’t see the reply above that states the same thing.

    • devilreaper

      If google starts to open source all their products then no one would care about them. OEMs will get rid off google service because it would be open source and they can design it themselves and whatnot. Basically it would be like android in china.

  • Syrup

    Well, I set a swipe from down to google now with nova launcher… I didn’t understand this article…

    • Marty

      GN is an active homepage in GNL. Not so in Nova.

      • Syrup

        For me it’s the same thing… Google now launcher you can swipe from left and there is GN.. With Nova I swipe from down and there is GN…

        • Marty

          Yeah, but somehow it’s just not the same. Maybe if Teslacoil would add a scrolling effect to bringing GN into view, that might make up any difficiency. What I mean is scrolling the current homepage out of view as GN scrolls into view.

        • Martin Stephenson

          Swipe down opens the notification shade. Why would you want to replace that ?

        • Chris

          Im with you, not sure what is so special about having it as a home screen vs the app. They both show the same info and you can always put a widget on one of your screens if you really want too (just doesn’t have the search bar like the actual home screen).

    • JosephHindy

      Swiping down opens the app, this article refers to making it a real home screen hidden on the left side, like in Google Now Launcher. Different functionality.

      • CoolRaoul

        But very similar in functionality: just a slightly different transition effect and no reverse slide in gesture to go back to launcher. Not a big deal.

  • PRDiddy

    Nova has the option to just speak Ok Google and it will launch Google Now….that’s good enough for me!

    • Heiro78

      it’s not just nova, its a function since android 5 i believe. when you enabled it in nova it took you to google settings to create your voice recognition/ trainer.

    • guest

      It does…

    • 40jimlloyd40

      Exactly and you don’t have to lift a finger to do that.

      • Naga Tudor

        Battery drain?

        • 40jimlloyd40

          I was using Moto Voice on my Moto X pure edition. I turned it off and enabled Google Now and didn’t notice any difference in battery life. Of course the battery life might be better without either but I’m happy with the battery life that I’m getting.

    • HSidhu

      don’t need NOVA, why would someone need a third party launcher ?

      • PRDiddy

        Lol is that a serious question?

      • Morgan Jones

        Don’t need your stupid opinion as we don’t need watch such perverted, communist scumbag, murderer Che Guevara.

        • HSidhu

          Who told you to reply to my post. Fack off. You scumbag piece of shit.

          • Morgan Jones

            You can stuff this up your arse and fuck off while doing it. What shithole r u from? Actually don’t even wanna know. So piss off Che Master-Bator.. Really

          • HSidhu

            SAME TO YOU ASSH0LE

      • Ian

        I use top launcher, now i have evryting on one page…Far superior to standard launcher.

  • David S.

    A. He should have an option to turn it into a system app. If someone has root, he probably understands that the OTAs are gone. Just put a warning.
    B. He can always make a swipe to left page to open google now. Like Flipboard on TouchWiz. Like a page most to the left that will open the Google Now app, of course swiping back right won’t return to the launcher but it’s a nice addition.

    • JosephHindy

      The functionality you’re describing already exists. You can use gesture controls to open apps in Nova Launcher.

  • Marty

    Was Google approached for this article for comment? Seems like with this info it should be pressed on Google to respond to their closed API.

    • Marty

      Agreed.

  • Rob Geeson

    I double tap to open Google Now. Easy.

  • 40jimlloyd40

    I hesitate to say this because I might have missed something but why don’t you just say “ok Google” to launch Google now?

    • Chris

      Because “OK google” is for doing voice search, and just gives you “this is what you can do with voice commands” screen rather than opening the app. unless there is some way to customize that which I am unaware of.

  • Mohammad Shahebaz

    Can’t they just introduce some custom or own swipe page option?
    Alike Google Now

    • Marty

      That would work, a homepage having news and information like GN.

  • Thanks for the explanation. I always wondered why these launchers don’t include Google Now.

  • Hel Thanatos

    Hold and swipe was so much better…

    • Chris

      Yep, I turned off now on tap for this very reason. Love being able to use the home button on any screen to open Now. Wish they would change so tap & hold gave you a now on tap card, swipe up from home launched google now.

  • The other day Google Now started sending me notifications about sports scores unprompted. Good bye Google Now. Uninstall.

    • Ganfadel

      That’s literally the point of Google now though…to present you information before you ask for it.

    • Chris

      you can customize what kinds of cards you get in the settings, or just click the three-dot menu on the sport card and say not interested. it will go away.

  • Thomas Sumanth

    i set google now to double tap on screen…that’s fine for me !! this is no big deal anyway

  • Thomas Sumanth

    i use double tap feature by nova launcher to open google now its fine …not a big deal anyway !!

  • Alexander Håkansson

    Couldn’t you at least add the option to swipe left or right to open the Google Now app? It’s close enough :)

    • Chris

      Nova does have customizable actions (up, down, two-finger, tap, etc.) left/right is not an option, but you could always use one of the others. I mapped google now to the home button on my nova launcher.

      • Alexander Håkansson

        Oh nice! Thanks for the great advice to use the home button! :)

  • Nova is shit. Action Launcher 3 is so much better.

    • Mogen

      Thats your opinion

    • Scott Ricketts

      Yeah?

  • Nick Toney

    That’s garbage. The Google Now launcher is not a system app

  • Eric

    How hard is it to click an icon? Or say ok google… Jeez.

    • Flow

      First world problems

      • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

        Seriously.

    • Morgan Jones

      Ok Google works only with English.

  • stngray

    Action Launcher 3 does this. Swipe to the left for Google Now.

  • Felix

    “Google Now remains accessible to Nova users with a simple long press on the home key”… and what about using NowOnTap?!

    • NoNotThatOne

      I use a finger swipe up gesture. Works on any screen. It doesn’t have the seamless animation of Now Launcher, but it does launch the app.

  • elijahblake

    get Barry to explain why I can’t use the doubletaptolock feature in Nova with my s7 or fingerprint unlocking doesn’t work…

  • mdchittum

    I have mine set to the double tap screen in gestures! Works great! I do have prime though!

  • Mitchell Wapner

    I’ve been using a launcher called Evie which seamlessly integrates Google Now by just swipping up on your home screen. It’s just as easy to do that as it is in the Google now launcher.

  • ROB

    Actually prefer the way it is now

  • onstrike112

    I don’t care personally. I guess some would like the ability, but I have a BlackBerry Priv that I just flick the hardware keyboard and start typing, and I get Google Now.

  • JamTes03

    my thoughts:. having Google now as a home page set to the far left would be quicker and smoother to jump in and out of when you are already moving between home screens. the Google now launcher works very well with this but does not have near the customization as Nova launcher does, which is why I kept to the Nova launcher. yes you can set gestures. I have swipe up from any screen. but it is still slower and not quite as satisfying as just sliding over, looking at something, and sliding back to home. and don’t even get me started on the GN widget. I find it to be pretty terrible in my opinion. Yes, Nova makes it as easy as they can for us to get to it, but to me, it’s not the same. #firstworldproblems

  • Triston Chavez

    Mm. This is an over exaggeration. I have a rooted galaxy s4 and my launcher has a feature called pheonix slide. Basically you chose an app to launch automatically when you swipe to your left most page. The Google now page people isn’t really part of the now launcher, it’s part of the google app. If you open the google app from your app drawer it takes you directly to the “now” page. I simply set my launcher to open the google app on the leftmost swipe and it takes me to the beautiful now page you guys want. The only downside is you can’t swipe out of the page, you have to use the home button, but to me that’s no biggie.

  • abraham murciano

    A workaround for Nova launcher could be to add a new page on the left with a completely white background, no dock, etc… and when the user swipes to that page, Google now app is launched. That way it would give an exact impression of having “swipe to google now”. The only problem would be that you can’t swipe to get to the home page. However maybe there is a workaround to have gestures in other apps? I’m not sure… but if there is a way for Nova to have gestures in other apps then it could do the reverse of the launch procedure to have a flawless Google now page.
    I really hope that they implement this and this is literally the *only* feature that this launcher is missing!

  • dovidhalevi

    For more options and Google Now, there is the XGels Xposed module for the Google Now launcher (which, BTW, is NOT installed as a system app). Problem is that Google keeps obfuscating and re-obfuscating, thereby defeating all the XGel’s hacks. The dev has this down to a science and does keep upgrading for later Google App versions but versions are coming out so often that the wild-goose-chase is completely out of hand. Most other devs playing with this stuff have given up. I would not be surprised if Sony suffers similar problems unless Google decides to really cooperate. They ought to buy XGels and incorporate its features!

    Unfortunately, a lot of Google’s otherwise fine software, has gotten overblown, gluttonous, and increasing arch-dependent defeating the whole idea of Android (‘s Jave basis)..

  • Stefan Lehnert

    Nova is imho really the best launcher and I use it on all my android devices. And I dont see a problem with the missing integration of Google Now. Because: I dont know even a single person in my circle of friends and family who is using Google Now. To be honest, I even had to do a search to find out what “Google Now” is. Seems like this feature is another proof of the fragmentation of Android users (not just of Android devices): Maybe Google Now is very popular in the USA (I dont know) but at least here in Germany its widely unknown.

  • tabguy2

    I use Apex and set the swipe up gesture to Google Now and it works just fine. I wouldn’t want a swipe left as i prefer my home screens to rotate continuously.

  • David Alexander Opperman

    And yet action launcher managed to achieve that with root

  • blindexecutioner

    I just set Google Now to launch on a swipe up from the App Drawer button which is set to open the Nova settings by default. Works almost like the old Home button swipe up but I still have the now on Tap functionality.

  • SimSimma52

    I just bought an Xperia X Compact and can confirm Sony’s Home launcher has full Google Now integration on swipe left. Didn’t realize what I was missing. I love Nova too much so I did what other users did- double tap an empty space on the screen to launch Google Now. Pretty seamless

  • Brodie Yg

    Or you could just not use nova launcher as it’s old and primitive and use another launcher as there are actually a few that do have Google now integrated.

  • Rye B.

    Well look where we are now… 😁