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Google Now Launcher: What's The Google Launcher Really Like?

Google Now Launcher

Want to know more about Google Now Launcher? Are you looking for a good and to-the-point review of Google Launcher? Great! Discover all the advantages and drawbacks of Google Now Launcher in a 5-minute read.

There are hundreds of custom launchers available both in Google Play and in the Amazon Appstore for Android. Each one offers something a bit different or has some special feature or features you may like.

If you don't really like the default launcher that your Android phone comes with, it's a good idea to check Google Now Launcher, the launcher created by Google. 

Most phone manufacturers offer slightly modified versions of Android OS and that's why the same version of Android looks different on a Samsung, HTC or LG phone. Google Now Launcher is the only launcher that lets you experience "pure" Android on your phone (i.e. without any modifications or add-ons from your phone manufacturer or network carrier). 

Of course, Google Now Launcher won't modify your Android version but it will at least bring the look and feel of its pure version (present only on few devices like Nexus) to your phone. 

So what's Google Now Launcher like? What are its pros and cons? Let's find out! 

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There are two similar articles about Google Now Launcher you might like:

Google Now Launcher

Google Now Launcher: Installation & Basic Information

As the introduction section of this article says, Google Now Launcher is one of many launcher apps available for Android devices both in Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android or other alternative app stores. 

You can learn how to install Amazon apps on Android here (it is a very good alternative app store, by the way).

You install Google Now Launcher like you install any Android app:

1. You can type "Google Now Launcher" in the search box of the Google Play app on your Android phone, click INSTALL and follow the installation instructions. 

Google Now Launcher: Installation
Google Now Launcher: Installation

2. You can install Google Now Launcher from your desktop. All you need to do is open the Google Now Laucher web page on Google Play, click INSTALL, choose your device and wait until the app installs on your device (remember that it has to be connected to the Internet for it to work). 

On the screenshot below you can see that it says Installed because I have just installed the app from Google Play on my phone. 

Google Now Launcher: Installation from desktop

What Is Google Now Launcher App?

A launcher app is responsible for the looks of the home panel (where you usually see the clock, weather information and app shortcuts), other panels (the ones you get to if you swipe left or right) and the app grid (how it looks and how apps are grouped in it).

Except for Nexus phones which have the “stock” Vanilla Android launcher, almost every Android manufacturer has their own launcher. In the case of Samsung phones, for example, this launcher is called TouchWiz.

Below you can see the default launcher in my Samsung Galaxy S7.

Default Samsung Launcher
Default Samsung Launcher

By changing the default launcher app of your phone, you can really change the look and feel of your Android phone. 

Google Now Launcher is simply the proposition from Google for those who want to have the stock Android launcher on their phone and have much better access to the integrated Google services (especially the famous Google Now which is the “core” feature of the Google Now Launcher).

Review of Google Now Launcher: Features & Settings

The first thing that came into my mind after installing Google Now Launcher was that this app is indeed for minimalists. The launcher is extremely simple and has only the most basic and useful features and settings.

There are absolutely no "bells and whistles" we know from other launchers like Nova Launcher where you can adjust every tiny detail (like the transition effect when scrolling the app grid).

Take a look at how the home panel and app grid looks just after installing Google Now Launcher on my phone. 

Google Now Launcher: app grid
Google Now Launcher: home screen

The biggest difference I notice immediately is the size of the app grid and app icons. I cannot make them smaller, so I cannot fit five in one column like I can in my default TouchWiz launcher.

But how about the features & functionalities? 

Google Now Launcher: Google Now

Google Now Launcher, as the name suggests, is mainly the door to Google Now. All you need to do to activate Google Now is swipe right on the home screen and you will be viewing Now Cards displaying the most relevant information for you.

You don't need to place the Google Now widget on one of your panels like you have to if you use the default launcher. 

Google Now Launcher: Google Now

Of course, you can also activate Google Now (click to learn more about what this service is) by simply saying “Ok, Google” and giving your phone further instructions.

Google Now Launcher: Simple Home Screen

Google Now Launcher has a very simple home screen on which you can add app shortcuts, group apps into folders or add widgets. 

If you run out of space on one panel, you can create a new one by simply dragging and dropping an app or widget into the right side of the screen. 

Google Now Launcher: Home Screen

Google Now Launcher: Simple App Grid

People either love or hate the built-in app grid in Google Now Launcher. As you can see on the screenshot below, the app grid is very simple and minimalist.

You don't have any options that let you modify the grid, change its size, layout or the size of app icons. 

The order of apps that appear on the app grid is really a secret for many people. No one really entirely knows how apps are grouped in the app grid in the Google Now Launcher (based on what criteria).

Google Now Launcher: app grid
Google Now Launcher: app grid

Certainly one of the factors is how often you use a given app. It's bad that you cannot order the apps in any way you want but have to rely on some algorithm to do it for you.

Google Now Launcher: Setttings

I really like this minimalist nature of the Google Now Launcher because I don’t need to have tons of features and customizations some of which I don’t even understand.

Here it’s extremely simple. If I tap and hold somewhere on the home-screen (on the blank space, of course), I will see three basic options.

  • WALLPAPERS which simply let you change the wallpaper.
  • WIDGETS where you can add installed widgets directly to your panels.
  • SETTINGS where you will find only the most basic settings.

Google Now Launcher: Wallpapers

This setting simply lets you change the wallpaper of Google Now Launcher. You can either use one of the presets or use your own image/photo. 

Google Now Launcher: wallpapers
Google Now Launcher: wallpapers

Google Now Launcher: Widgets

Google Now Launcher also lets you browse and add widgets. All you need to do is simply drag and drop the widget onto one of the panels. 

Google Now Launcher: widgets
Google Now Launcher: widgets

Google Now Launcher: Settings

Google Now Launcher offers you the most basic and useful settings relating to Google Assistant, Search and Home screen. 

Google Now Launcher: settings
Google Now Launcher: settings

Review of Google Now Launcher: Drawbacks

When I discovered and installed Google Now Launcher for the first time some time ago I was sure I had finally found the perfect launcher for me.

Even though I am a minimalist and I really like the simplicity of this launcher, I prefer TouchWiz (in my Samsung Galaxy S7) which in its newest version is really great.

Here are a few disadvantages of the Google Now Launcher. Of course, this is my personal opinion and these things may not be a problem for you at all and you will love using this launcher.

Battery drain

Unfortunately, it’s really hard not to notice the battery drain if you use Google Now Launcher.

Some time ago I even did a small test with Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and found that Google Now Launcher drains battery a lot more in comparison to the default launcher.

Inflexible app grid

I like to have the apps I use ordered or grouped in folders so that I can access them as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I don’t have much control over how apps are placed in the app grid and all I can do to find the app is either scroll until I find it or use a search bar.

Few settings

I don’t like it when there are tons of settings and customizations in the app but in this case the are too few settings and customizations.

The one setting I am missing the most is the adjustment of the size of icons on panels so that I can put more of them on one panel and have all my apps “ready” and within one tap.

Review of Google Now Launcher: Final Words

Even though I found some disadvantages of Google Now Launcher, I still like this app a lot and can recommend it to anyone.

After all, it’s a Google app, so it’s good and it works good. If you like simple things and get lost when there are too many options, you will probably love Google Now Launcher.

Feel free to share your thoughts and leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.


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