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article imageGoogle's radical new Android launcher revealed in leaked images

By James Walker     Aug 3, 2016 in Technology
For months, Google has been rumoured to be developing an exclusive new Android launcher for its upcoming Nexus handsets. This week, the extensively redesigned interface was leaked to the Internet, revealing a new way of interacting with Android.
Uncovered by Android Police, "Nexus Launcher" takes the design of Android in a different direction to its traditional approach. The new interface uses a set of concepts and principles that Google hasn't explored before, extending Material Design with a unique frosted glass look.
The dock at the bottom of the home screen now has a frosted glass background. The old icon to open the app drawer has gone, replaced by a small upwards-pointing arrow. To open the drawer you can either tap the icon or slide the frosted glass up. It can be closed by swiping downwards to the home screen.
Leaked image of Google s  Nexus Launcher  Android interface
Leaked image of Google's "Nexus Launcher" Android interface
Android Police
The Google Search widget on the home screen has also been removed. In its place is a permanent calendar widget that cannot be repositioned or replaced. It gives you an immediate look at your upcoming alerts and reminders as soon as you unlock your phone, a more useful ability than the old search bar.
Google wants you to look elsewhere to use search, namely Google Now and the new Google Assistant being introduced with Android 7.0. This can be accessed from a dedicated new pull-tab pinned to the left side of the home screen. While this slider leads to the existing Google Now interface on the version of the launcher Android Police gained access to, the site said it's "confident" it will open Google Assistant when the final release is installed on Android Nougat phones. Assistant is said to play a "key role" in the behaviour of the finished launcher.
Leaked image of Google s  Nexus Launcher  Android interface
Leaked image of Google's "Nexus Launcher" Android interface
Android Police
The launcher will be accompanied by redesigned navigation keys for home, back and recent apps. Separately leaked images of the new home button reveal it will have a colourful "flower" design. It will also act as a quick shortcut to open Google Assistant, accessible via a long press from anywhere in the OS.
The launcher is a major redesign of the stock Android experience, moving away from Google's three-piece home screen, Google Now and app drawer approach of the past few years. Much remains unknown about the reworked experience though, including whether it will actually become a part of the stock Android installation.
Leaked image of Google s  Nexus Launcher  Android interface
Leaked image of Google's "Nexus Launcher" Android interface
Android Police
Several sources over the past few weeks have suggested this launcher is destined to be a special experience unique to Google's new Nexus phones, set to be released next month. The company is known to be keen to differentiate its handsets and evolve Nexus into its own in-house hardware business. It will reportedly use this "Nexus Launcher" to make this year's HTC-built Nexus phones more attractive to Android purists, combining high-end hardware with a clean and polished interface you won't be able to find anywhere else.
Nexus Launcher will also be used to heavily promote some of Google's innovative new services, most notably Assistant and Now on Tap. By removing the permanent search bar widget, Google can force its users to try out these new proactive ways of finding information, where the service does the majority of the work for the user.
Because the typical Nexus buyer is already a fan of Android and Google's products, the hardware integration pays off. Google can give the most involved members of its community added incentive to buy its hardware by offering a unique launcher experience. Simultaneously, it can also market its cutting-edge digital assistant technologies to the users most likely to engage with them.
Leaked image of Google s  Nexus Launcher  Android interface
Leaked image of Google's "Nexus Launcher" Android interface
Android Police
If you want to try out the new launcher before its official unveiling, you can download the APK file and manually install it today. After the app was revealed, a leaked copy of the launcher quickly appeared online, confirming the original report. Needless to say, it's rather rough around the edges and in no way supported by Google. It appears to work well on Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a range of devices though, excepting the integration points for the Nougat-exclusive features.
With the launch of the next Nexus devices likely only a month away, we'll soon know a lot more about the Nexus Launcher. The LG V20 will be the first phone to launch with Android 7.0 but Google will follow soon after with the 2016 HTC-constructed Nexus devices, internally known as "Sailfish" and "Marlin." At this event, we should get our first glimpse of the new launcher, including confirmation on whether it's really a Nexus-exclusive feature.
More about Google, Android, android n, android nougat, android 70
 
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