Google’s new launcher for Android is based around its popular intelligent personal assistant and context-aware service, Google Now. After installing an Android KitKat 4.4.2 ROM on my Samsung Galaxy S3, I was able to take a first-hand look at the new Google Now Launcher.
At first glance, the launcher appears no different than the standard stock launchers on Galaxy Devices, but without the extra widgets preloaded. A non-scrollable dock sits below the home screen and a Google Search box is positioned at the top.
Google Now has become one of my favorite tools for finding information quickly. I could go on about how useful and effective Google Now can be for managing your life, however; I believe I’ll save those descriptions for another post to do it justice.
The familiar Google Now interface, which replaced Google Search a while back when Google Apps were updated, can be accessed in a number of ways. Google Now can be accessed by swiping to the right on the home screen, tapping the Search box, pressing the hardware shortcut key (typically a long-press of the menu button) or via hot-word detection.
The biggest feature of Google Now Launcher is its hot-word detection. Anytime you’re viewing a home screen on the Google Now Launcher you can activate Google Now speech recognition by speaking the hot-word: “OK Google.”
With hot-word detection always on I can’t help but wonder what impact this may have on my device’s battery. I suspect many users may have privacy concerns about Google Now always listening through the device’s microphone.
Google Now Launcher is very responsive, however; it lacks the customization options that Android users have come to expect from their home screens. I’ll withhold my rating of Google Now Launcher until the next update. I’m hoping that Google with implement some the launcher’s missing features with future releases.
Google Play: Google Now Launcher – Install
CC via Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nexus_4