I was pretty taken with the Google Experience Launcher (now the Google Now Launcher) with it’s début on the Nexus 5. Up to that point I had been using Nova Launcher and was pretty happy with it, but the allure of being able to talk to my phone whenever I wanted to proved too great to resist.
Now, barely four months later, I’m back on Nova Launcher again. You can get access to the latest beta by joining the appropriate Google+ community; I myself am content with v 2.3, which hasn’t been updated since last December.
What makes Nova Launcher so great? For me it’s a single, standout feature which I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed.
And without any further ado…
That’s right, with Nova your dock can have pages, just like your home screen. For me it triples the number of available apps without having to open the app drawer or mess with the layout of my widgets and shortcuts above the dock. It’s a deceptively simple feature that, once you’ve experienced, you may not want to give up.
In the short time we’ve been apart I’m pleased to say that Nova Launcher has pretty much caught up with the Google Now Launcher in look and feel. About the only feature it doesn’t have is the ability to activate Google Now with the voice command “Ok, Google…” on the home screen. If you really need this, check the beta—it might have been added since the last time I checked.
What you do get is the option to remove the persistent Google search bar from your home screens, plus the ability to add another screen to where Google Now would otherwise sit, one screen to the left of home.
I was first introduced to Nova when I used AOKP on my 2012 Nexus 7. It’s pretty conservative when compared to other Android launchers—it’s nowhere near as innovative as Aviate, for example, nor is it as customizable as Themer or even MI Launcher. But for my needs right now it’s just about perfect. Like I say, I had no idea how much I’d missed it!