Google’s Nexus line has always been the poster child for pure Google Android, but a new app from Google will put that power in anyone’s pocket.
The past few iterations of Android have allowed users to bring their devices more and more in line with the standards set by Google through their Nexus line and—more recently—through the Google experience devices in the Google Play Store.
The look and feel has always been dictated by the manufacturer, though. Samsung devices use their touchwiz skin, HTC devices use HTC sense, and most manufacturers have some other distinguishing variations from stock Android.
Rumors have been swirling surrounding a “Google Experience Launcher” which would make your Android device look and feel (mostly) like a clean version of unadulterated Android. So far, this launcher has only been available on the Nexus 5, but an incoming update to the Google Search app suggests this is about to change.
Android Police has examined the new release by Google and found many of the included changes actually affect the Google Launcher, including an official branding as Google Now Launcher, which suggests they are preparing to distribute it beyond stock devices.
I tested the .APK included on their site on my HTC One and can confirm that it does deliver as promised with minimal effort. You can follow their included directions if you also wish to get it for yourself.
If you want to wait for an official update from Google, there’s no word yet on how long that will be—or even any confirmation that it will ever be available. As always, be careful before you go installing 3rd party apps on your devices, but the .APK is signed by Google and it passed a scan from Lookout Security before I installed it.
I’ve always been a big fan of the cleaner simplistic approach of the Google Nexus UI, but it may not be for everyone. If you want to try something new on your phone but don’t like the Google Now Launcher look and feel, try checking out Launcher Pro or Action Launcher from the Google Play Store.