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The one feature Google Now Launcher is missing

The one feature Google Now Launcher is missing

Stock Android has an undeniable appeal. Those inky animations, the close integration of Google Now, and the continuity throughout all adds up to a cohesive, pleasing user experience. Google Now Launcher allows anyone with an Android smartphone to get an experience that at least resembles stock Android, but there's one key thing that is still missing.

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Getting a stock Android look on any device has never been easier, but it's not perfect, either. / © AndroidPIT

Easy cohesion

Android is a disparate place when it comes to manufacturers, UIs, and the range of devices on offer, so very few people are going to end up with a Nexus running stock Android. I have waxed poetic over the allure of stock Android and Material Design in the past, and my appreciation of it has only grown over time.

So it is inevitable that when I find myself using a phone that doesn't run stock, my finger navigates to the Google Now Launcher in the Play Store and installs it. It's become a recursive action, deeply embedded in my spinal column.

Google Now Launcher is great: you get Google Now cards placed within easy reach to the right of your home screen, the convenient persistent Google search bar, and Material Design beauty to navigate through everything.

The missing link

However, there is one big downside to Google Now Launcher; it's lacking a feature that many people get a launcher for in the first place: icon pack support.

If I install Google Now Launcher on, say, a Samsung Galaxy S7, I'm still stuck with the garish color scheme that Samsung adopts for its apps. To my mind, this is a major drawback, preventing me from creating the homogeneous Material Design experience I want.

There are tons of great icon packs out there that make use of Material Design, and any one of them would be preferable to the mishmash of icons I have to accept if I want to use Google Now Launcher at the minute. Even though icon packs frequently suffer from missing icons, there are some, like Retrorika, which will apply a filter to apps that haven't had an icon designed yet, making them merge in almost perfectly with the overall appearance.

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The app drawer still has icons that don't fit with the Material Design language. / © AndroidPIT

I want Google Now Launcher to hide the fact that I'm running TouchWiz or Sense or any other UI that doesn't mesh with the design language of Google, so why I can't I make it so that all the icons fit into that language, as well?

Have you used Google Now Launcher, and if so did you miss being able to use custom icon packs? Leave a comment and let me know.

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  • Google's change to a vertical scroll launcher has me completely baffled. It is bad UX to make someone scroll multiple times to access Yelp. The horizontal scroll seemed way faster. I am agnostic to icon styles.

  • Thast's why I choosed Buzz Launcher.
    Easy to customize, even icons, to group shortcuts.
    use it like IOS desktop.

  • you can just before using GNL, install a material design theme from the samsung theme store like for example "material dark" and then with GNL and the new icons set you will have what you want I would share with you a screenshot but you don't allow it

  • the one big feature it's missing is GETTING RID of the persistant google search bar. I *NEVER* use it. I fire up Chrome instead. I want to get rid of the search bar which takes away 4 spots for icons on *every* homescreen page and instead I want to be able to add a Google-microphone button which I can click to activate voice.

  • It is well developed, quick access to Google now and is fluid launcher and is a good reason to come back for me. According to my taste, the icons are a bit large and seems like a kid's toy and being able to make it small would be great. But overall a good one..!!

  • Alex Jul 30, 2016 Link to comment

    I have been using the Nova launcher Prime for so long and just before few days I made a turn and tried Evie launcher and as well as the Awesome ASAP launcher both did impress me and ASAP launcher seemed quite better than Evie and it seemed quite better than the Nova Launcher as well based on the simplicity as well as Speed and then I went back again to Nova Launcher I can't uninstall it no matter what.Iam Addicted!!

  • I am using the awesome ASAP Launcher.

  • I prefer Arrow Launcher from Microsoft.. its very light...fast..and a new set-apart design

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Jul 29, 2016 Link to comment

    GNL is simple and light, but the persistent search bar persistently in the wrong place especially on a large screen.... doesn't really work for me on Nexus 6,
    no overlapping of widgets and a really messy app drawer is a big no no...
    so an Android or a Nexus device with Nova and Zooper etc seems more like "stock" to me after a few yrs use..

  • I'll try. But I guess that something changed in a couple of years ;-)

  • Pardon me for my lack of knowledge here, but aside from the icon packs: does Google Now have swipe gestures?

    I would also once again like to mention my love relationship with Nova Launcher. I will always end up using it over Google Now. I have customized my phone so much thanks to the master race launcher that is Nova.

    It's also worth mentioning that they do support new functions and skins equal to every new Android OS coming out. So you still somewhat run clean stock Android in that sense.

  • storm Jul 29, 2016 Link to comment

    The point of Now Launcher is streamlined smoothness. It's not so much about bells and whistles, just simple access to the core features of the phone. Adding icon packs while entertaining, is outside of the whole point of Now.

  • The first app I install on new smartphones is Nova Launcher, even when Google Now Launcher is the default.
    Apart from being able to install custom icons, it also allows for better gesture commands, a finer control over the launcher grid, the transparency or other details of the app drawer, and a ton of other small but useful features.

    • No way Nova is as buttery smooth as GNL. Just a tad too stuttery at times and the gesture swipes, say you program one to open Google, are not nearly as smooth as the left to right swipe on GNL. In- Nova, try gesture swiping out of Google... you can't. I paid for & used Nova for years and it's prob my 2nd fav. Although it rules in terms of customization..I haven't gone back in a couple years.

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