Nova Launcher updated to 2.3 Beta 1, Brings KitKat to All

November 11, 2013 - Written By Brendan Lynch

As Android gets more simplistic and attractive, the stock interface is making the hardware manufacturer’s skins look more cluttered and bloated than ever. For most people who aren’t rooted or simply cannot root their devices, third-party launchers have been a great way to get a stock look on devices that have custom skins installed by the manufacturer. Perhaps one of the most popular third-party launchers available for download, Nova Launcher, is making the first step towards a KitKat look and feel.

Nova Launcher has released a beta version of their popular launcher that is aiming to replicate Android 4.4 KitKat. The beta version is unfortunately not available via the Play Store unless you choose to opt-in for beta updates. For those who do not want all beta updates pushed to their devices, you can get the APK file so that you can side-load the launcher. The Nova Launcher Beta site will give you instructions for both methods.

The implementation is quite impressive and includes a hefty changelog. Here is the full list of all the changes made in the beta version:

  • Kitkat scroll indicator (Settings > Desktop > Scroll Indicator)
  • Kitkat folders (Settings > Folders > Light Background and Folder Background > Light Circle)
  • Kitkat font (Settings > Look and Feel > Icon Font > Condensed, requires Android 4.1+)
  • Kitkat app drawer (on by default, get the old style by long-press > Edit > tap the icon > Built-in)
  • Transparent system bars on Kitkat (Settings > Look and feel > Transparent Notification Bar)
  • Transparent nav bar on Moto X (Settings > Look and feel > Transparent Navigation Bar)
  • Drawer tab indicator scrolls during tab change
  • Drawer scroll indicator is relative to current tab
  • Scroll indicators animate properly for infinite scroll
  • Backup/Restore from external sdcard (on devices with sdcards)
  • Fast scroll for vertical app drawer
  • Fixes and optimizations

While this is certainly a step forward by implementing essential KitKat elements, Nova Launcher still has a ways to go in order to make it look as close to KitKat as possible. For starters, long-pressing on the home screen brings up the old way of adding widgets and wallpapers, not the KitKat method. Along the same lines, all menus and the app drawer are still using Jelly Bean’s design. Regardless of the initial shortcomings, we can expect the official update to fix the majority of them.