The Google Now launcher may be a little more limiting when it comes to features and customization, and that’s OK. People who choose to use it are looking mostly for the heavy integration of and easy access to Google Now. In a somewhat surprising move, Android device manufacturer ZTE has stated that it will launch future devices with the Google Now Launcher on board and will be used as the stock launcher on the device, starting with the already released ZTE Blade Vec 4G. The Blade Vec is already available in European and Chinese mainland markets, but ZTE will be launching the device in Hong Kong next week, which will be their first device to launch with the Google Now Launcher out of the box. What isn’t certain at this point in time is if ZTE will choose to send out updates to those who are already using the Blade Vec 4G in other markets that were shipped with the regular ZTE launcher or not.
ZTE is apparently betting big on the Google Now Launcher as the choice for the home experience of user’s devices, mentioning that they will have “several devices” that will use the Google Now Launcher as well. ZTE is also said to be launching a new “premium device” alongside the Google Now variant of the Blade Vec 4G, with the new premium device also expected to be running the Google Now Launcher out of the box.
ZTE is not one of the major players outside of its home market. You might be able to find their products more often that you think, but most of the time people are unaware that they exist as a smartphone brand that manufacturers Android devices. Perhaps pre-loading several devices with the stock Google Now Launcher could help people become aware of them. ZTE states that it’s plan is to put the Google Now Launcher on every single device they manufacturer that’s running Android 4.4 and above, that also carry the Google Mobile Services and have Google Play enabled on them. So that still leaves room for some ZTE devices running Android 4.4 that don’t have the Google Mobile Services, to use their own home launchers designed and developed by ZTE. Would you buy a ZTE device with the GEL on it?