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I just upgraded to a Nexus 5 and am setting up my launcher + icons. Right now I'm using Nova Launcher, and a like a lot of things about it, but it's lacking in Google Now integration. Two things in particular I miss:

  • Having Google Now start listening when I say, "Okay Google" without pressing a button - this still works once I'm in Google Now, but not on the Nova Launcher homescreen (as it does with the stock launcher).
  • Being able to swipe over to the left from the homescreen to get the Now screen

Are there any launchers that support these features, especially the first one?

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Please note that recommendations like Is there an app for X are off-topic here (see What topics can I ask about here? for details). For where your question might fit better, you might want to look into Where can I ask questions that aren't Android Enthusiast questions? –  Izzy Dec 12 '13 at 15:19
    
How about if I rephrase it? My problem is "I want to be able to say 'OK Google' to start google now, and use a custom launcher at the same time. Is this possible?" –  keithjgrant Dec 12 '13 at 15:22
    
As of now, only Google Experience Launcher is capable of triggering Google Now while in Always Listening mode. –  Sachin Shekhar Dec 12 '13 at 15:25
    
You can't. Nova are working on it at present, but the G.E.L. is built into the Search application so it may not be possible. –  RossC Dec 12 '13 at 15:27
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Google Experience Launcher is actually built into the Google Search app along with Google Now. This is why it can listen for 'Okay Google' and have Google Now accessible via the left swipe. Ars Technica has a good article which goes into more details on this.

There are some launchers that support gestures, which might be similar to the left swipe to access the Google Now page (although they will only be able to launch Google Now in the same way an upward swipe does).

I don't think there are any that support saying 'Okay Google' from the homescreen though.

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As you've indicated, both features are native to the default Launcher app that shipped with the 4.4 ROM for Nexus 5, called the Google Experience Launcher (GEL)

Having Google Now start listening when I say, "Okay Google" without pressing a button

I haven't come across any third-party Launcher app that's integrated this yet, and wouldn't count on it anytime soon. Here is what Nova Launcher's dev said on this topic. You could try apps like Open Mic+, but these would continue to be active as long as your phone is awake, and almost certainly will take a hit on the already weak Nexus 5 battery life.

Being able to swipe over to the left from the homescreen to get the Now screen

This will never be part of a non-GEL app. In order to achieve this, Google essentially packaged the Launcher app into the Search (i.e. Google Now) app. See here and here on how and why they did this. It is unclear whether GEL will be released to the Play Store as a standalone app, or if it'll even be released to other Nexus/Play Edition devices.

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I have seen talk on this site that they will do a gradual roll out of GEL... But as always that is hearsay, and my friends in Google are saying absolutely nothing! (Probably after my 'why can't I reflow the text in Chrome' rant recently!) –  RossC Dec 12 '13 at 15:55
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@RossC My bet is that they will eventually make GEL available on the Play Store to all Android devices (most likely 4.1+). –  Reaper Dec 17 '13 at 3:39
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Cyanfox for Nexus 5 has the semi always listening baked right into the ROM. I put the same type of ROM on my friends Galaxy S3 and it had the Google Now screen to the left and was always listening while on the home screen. Blew my mind.

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Theres an app called open mic+ its helps wid the ok google thing swiping left fr google now is no where present excpt GEL but i personally didnt like the interface the icon size ws looking big on my note 2 i prefer nova launcher wid open mic + .apk it works like a charm ;) plus whoever said it doesnt wrk whn screen is off ur wrong m using it and wrks wid locked screen and yes if u set it to start up on boot it strts frm boot ;)

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I encourage some editing to this post to remove the txt-speak, please. –  wbogacz Feb 15 at 14:31
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