What To Expect in The Google Experience Launcher and Google Now (APK Downloads)

October 31, 2013 - Written By Keith Myers

The Kit Kat Factory Image for the Nexus 5 has only been out for a few hours and we are already hard at work with tearing it apart in order to get a sneak peek on how the new applications work. Google has been hard at work with their replacement of the stock Android launcher that we have all learned to love. With Android 4.4, Kit Kat, the launcher is getting a major overhaul that will be known as the “Google Experience”.

We were able to extract the 3 files responsible for the new launcher and installation instructions will be provided towards the end of this post. Any device running 4.3 should be able to run this without issue. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE ROOTED OR RUN AOSP.

Unlike previous versions of the Android Stock Launcher, the Google Experience Launcher is tied deeply into Google Now. Swiping in from the left instantly presents you with the Google Now application that many of us live by. This is incredibly convenient and  works well. This is a welcomed change for hardware manufacturers that do not give users an easy way to launch Google Now.

Google Now has also been given a minor overhaul. The settings menu now prompts you for your most common method of travel (Drive, Walk, Public Transit, Bike) and will presumably use this to plan your commute times.  The cards have also been cleaned up a bit. Everything else works as expected.

Installation Instructions

1) Select “Settings”, “Security” and ensure “Allow Unknown Sources” is checked

2) Download and Install/Upgrade PreBuiltGmsCore.apk (Google Play Services).

3) Download and Install/Upgrade Velvet.apk (Google Now)

4) Download and Install GoogleHome.apk (Google Experience Launcher)

Tap once on the Home button on your phone and you should be able to take the new launcher out for a test drive. It is worth noting that the “Ok Google Now” function only works in when the Google Now page is open, this will change once Kit Kat Launches.

What is interesting is this theoretically allows users with TouchWiz or Sense to get the Nexus Like look and feel without rooting.