Android 4.4 to come with Redesigned 'Google Experience Launcher'

Speculation continues to be rife over Android 4.4 KitKat, expected to be released later this year, but new details have been revealed which show significant improvements to the launcher, and introduce the possibility of a wider roll out.

References to a 'Google Experience Launcher' have been spotted within code leaks, followed by screenshots of new alert messages touting the name. Referred to internally as 'version 3' of the Android launcher, changes are likely to be very noticeable and include the option for unlimited home screens, folders which scroll, and new translucent navigation and menu bars. TuttoAndroid recently published a series of images of the Nexus 5 running the software, which show some of the design tweaks such as new icons, and a wallpaper based around the number '5'. 

In addition, availability on Google Play is a possibility, giving users of phones like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 the pure Google experience without the need to pay for a Play edition phone. Android Police report a change to the launcher's packet name, which matches Google's apps already available on the store: what was previously com.android.launcher is now com.google.android.gel, similar to the stock calendar app which was changed to com.google.android.calendar when it was made available to all devices.

Android 4.4 is expected to be launched alongside the Nexus 5 imminently, with rumours about an announcement tomorrow and availability by the end of the month. With an expected starting price of $299, it will very likely grab the attention of previous Nexus owners, and those in the market for a smartphone but do not want to spend a significant amount.

Source: TuttoAndroid and Android Police | Images: TuttoAndroid

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16 Comments

I don't understand. You can place an Gmail, Chrome, or Hangouts icon, etc., on the homescreen of any launcher ... or remove them all together.

NeoPogo said,
Time to call the DOJ and see if they can bust Google up unlike their attempt on Microsoft.

Completely different situation. Anyone can customize Google, such as Amazon did with the kindle, Barnes and Nobble Nook, and you can install / run different launcher's and interfaces.

so basically android is converging back to google then and you will probably see less hardware variants with their own launcher(s)..

The launcher only affects the homescreen(s) and app drawer; all other aspects, such as the settings screen and notification and quick settings pull-down remain ROM/manufacturer-specific.

NathanLiu said,
I guess most phones will ship with their own skins, but Google will offer the options to pretty much remove all signs of it!

As Starchild said, this is highly unlikely. They might offer the launcher in the Play Store, but it will most likely just be a launcher, just like every other launcher in the Play Store. The rest of the frameworks and customized applications included in Sense, TW, etc will still be in place on the phone so you'll still be far from a pure Google experience. In a lot of ways it would be impossible to just download from the Play Store and revert to vanilla Android since a lot of phones include proprietary features that require proprietary drivers, frameworks, and applications to utilize.

Even then, I think offering the launcher would be a fantastic idea. While a lot of the framework and apps would still exist, it would give you a lot closer to an AOSP feel and the launcher is really the most important part of the OS anyway. And if they do push other currently core apps to the store, they could potentially allow you to download a package with the launcher and core apps to mostly transition you to an AOSP feel. Seems like that would cause more confusion than it would be worth though for most people, especially if those core apps started losing features, for example, several OEM Camera apps enable features the AOSP Camera app can't utilize, so loss of features would be a very real possibility.

Overall I'm not so sure I agree with AP's assumption that this is the plan rather than just renaming of packages for more uniform naming across the board. It would raise a lot of concerns and issues to be addressed, but if they could allow you to download a package and convert mostly to AOSP it would be interesting. I don't expect it would get you anywhere near being able to do anything but look like AOSP though. Updates and such would still come from OEMs.

Edited by AJerman, Oct 14 2013, 8:23pm :

Tartarus said,
Sorry for the double post, but is that News and weather new? Is it a default app?

Nope, I had it on my Nexus 4, and any CM based ROM.

If true it would be another step towards being able to update most part of the core OS without releasing a new ROM, and hence bypassing OEMs and carriers.

That'd be nice.

customization of android goes far beyond the launcher anyway. besides the most popular launcher apps can replicate the functionality of AOSP's launcher just fine.

no launcher is gonna turn your phone into a google experience/nexus thing.

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