With the release of the Google Now Launcher on the Play Store, most Android users were left jilted. The coolest thing to hit Android this week is only available for Nexus and Google Play Edition devices. If you don’t have one of those, but still want the launcher, fret not. It can be done.
It’s actually pretty easy, too. First, you’ll want to get into your settings and allow apps outside of the Play Store to be loaded. To do that, you go to Settings > Security. From there, you’ll see a heading called “Device Administrators”. Under that, you’ll see “Verify Apps”, which has a tidy little explanation of what it’s about. Enable that one, and you’re halfway there.
The second thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have the most recent version of Google Search enabled on your device, which is version 188.8.131.529776. If you don’t, go ahead and hit the Play Store and check for an update, but we’re sure you’ll have it already. It’s pretty much Google’s stock and trade — literally.
Third, you’ll want to find an APK file for the new Google Now. They are available via several sources, with DevHost and Android Police being two popular sources. We’ve not heard of any issues just yet with this, so go ahead and give it a shot. It may take a few tries if you use the mirrored APK, but we’ve had success on a few different devices. Once downloaded, pull down the notification tray, and select it. It will run you through the various checkpoints, but we haven’t found reason for alarm yet.
We are hearing issues with some devices, but with various carriers and the like, we’re not prepared to verify which will and won’t work with certainty. For now, we’re not seeing any reason to be alarmed with the downloads above, so give them a shot. A nice, new launcher can be a lot of fun, and the quick access to Google Now is nice.