OWNERS of older Nexus devices are being invited to update the Google Now launcher today, as the latest Android 4.4.2 Kitkat release gains wider availability.
The Google Now launcher was previously limited to the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 Android devices, however as of this morning it has landed in the Google Play Store for free download.
Other phone makers' handsets aren't able to download the new launcher, with the exception of Google editions of popular handsets such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 bought through the Google Play store running stock Android without modification.
The new launcher puts Google Now, the company's customised search tool, front and centre of the user experience, with its tiled menus now accessible with a swipe gesture from the homescreen.
Google has been increasing the functionality of Google Now incrementally since its first release in 2012, with rumours of a smartwatch version continuing and a desktop version for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS users in beta testing.
In addition to voice search, the Google Now service also offers a proactive information service that learns from your daily routine, search results and preferences such as favourite sports team or stocks held. As well as weather and details of conditions on your daily commute, it also tracks packages, provides boarding cards for selected airlines and sends alerts when favourite webpages are updated.
The Google Now launcher also adds the always-on "OK Google" hot phrase to trigger a voice search without touching the screen. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ