The Play Store just keeps accumulating new apps and games. So many that you have little hope of finding all the good stuff just casually poking around. That's why we have the Google Play App Roundup. This is where you can come to find out about all the cool new stuff on Android. Just click the links to head right to the Play Store.
This week we get the next generation of launchers, a game with lasers, and more Chromecasting.
We've known Google was planning big things with its updated Google Now-infused launcher, but there's finally some movement. The official Google Now Launcher has shown up in the Play Store, but it won't work on all devices just yet. I suspect it's just a matter of time, though. This isn't app isn't technically the launcher itself, but it unlocks the potential already in the Google Search app.
The Google Now Launcher (GNL) comes stock on the Nexus 5, but this update adds all other Nexus phones and tablets running Android 4.4 as well as all current Google Play Experience devices. That's the OFFICIAL list, but it also sounds like any device running a custom ROM based on KitKat should also be able to get the new launcher from Google Play. There are ways to install this on almost all Android devices, but finally having GNL in Google Play is a huge deal.
The new launcher will offer to import your layout from the old launcher, so migration shouldn't be too bad. GNL only uses the number of screens necessary for what you keep there. To add more just drag an icon or widget to the right and drop it on the screen that appears. The far left panel is always the main panel, then there is Google Now one swipe to the left.
Having Google Now on the home interface might not seem like a big change, but it ends up getting a lot more use, at least for me. The swipe up gesture on devices with on-screen buttons still works as expected too. The "Okay Google" trigger phrase for voice search works on the home screen in addition to the search app. The Google panel can't be moved, but all the others can be reordered in the long-press menu. That's also where widgets have ended up.
For phones and smaller tablets, GNL works very well. You won't have as many options as with Nova or the other third-party apps, but it integrates Google search in a way unofficial apps can't. On 10-inch slates, it's kind of a toss up. The grid size seems a bit odd -- not quite taking advantage of the space. However, it feels a little more modern.
If you have a compatible device, this is at least worth checking out. The Google Now Launcher is Google's home interface going forward.