Google Now Launcher: Now Available On All 4.1+ Devices

Google Now Launcher: Now Available On All 4.1+ Devices

Ready for an upgrade to your stock android home screen? Then check out the update announced today via Twitter:

 

Previously, a side-load install was required, if you wanted to take advantage of the Google Now launcher but today’s update makes it available to all 4.1+ higher devices. If you’re now familiar with what the Google Now launcher provides, then check out this video:


Personally, I love the launcher and have been using it for quite some time now. Some of my favorite features include cards updating me on the traffic to and from work, my parking spot location and shipping updates for recent orders.

If you’re ready to get it, follow one of these links:

Happy New Year: A Look Back at My Mobile Journey

Happy New Year: A Look Back at My Mobile Journey

As another year comes to end, I, like most people have been reminiscing on the past. This was especially fun when, the other day, I came across a drawer full of my old phones. Needless to say, my collection has improved over time. So take a ride with me down memory lane, as I look back at my mobile journey.

In the beginning

It’s actually quite humorous to me, when I compare my current phone (Samsung Galaxy S4) with the very first phone I ever owned, the Sony CM-DX 1000. This phone was first introduced in 1998 (yes, you read that correctly) and has since been discontinued. I have no idea what this phone could do, except that I remember it was incredibly expensive and boasted a 97×33 resolution. Yeah, can you believe that actually was a selling point at one time? I didn’t keep that phone very long and it was a while before I had another mobile device.

Next up was the LG VX6100, from Verizon. This phone was on the cusp of smartphones and was pleasantly cool in its day; size and cost were the selling points for me. The camera was junk but hey, it had a camera. There were some other cool features like voice commands and mobile web, along with a 256k TFT 128×160 pixel screen and overall. I’m leaning to the sarcastic side when I boast these features but make no mistake, mobile phones were beginning to make some big leaps around this time.

Along Came a Smartphone

My first “official” smartphone (and I use the term smartphone loosely) was the Motorola Q and it was an awful experience to say the least. First, it was an early version of Windows Mobile and that should tell you enough. I still don’t like Windows Mobile OS and owning that phone was probably the root cause of that. I didn’t mind the design of the phone so much, as it had a decent sized full-qwerty keypad and the screen was ok but the battery life was awful. I would unplug my phone in the morning (around 7) and it would literally be dying by noon; no joke. I ended up keeping the phone for almost a year, when I moved to Blackberry Curve.

Honestly, I loved the Curve. The full qwerty keyboard, battery life and OS were actually pretty great. It’s kind of hard to say now, but Blackberry was once something to be excited about. This was the phone that I felt I could actually call a smartphone. It had a 3 MP camera, GPS and decent 480×360 pixel display. Emailing and texting was a breeze and navigating was simplified with the trackball and yes, I loved the trackball. About the only thing I didn’t like about the Curve was the how quickly the trackball would get dirty and need to be cleaned; hardly something to want to switch devices for. So, when I first started hearing about Android, I knew it was going to take some convincing to make the switch.

Eventually I did make the switch to Android but not early on. The first Android phone released was the HTC Dream, or the T-Mobile G1 (US). It was released in 2008 and I was a bit skeptic of the new OS. It seemed to lack some of the features I was used to with my Blackberry Curve and I was on Verizon at the time, so it wasn’t available to me anyways. Admittedly, the first iPhone had been released by this time and did peak my interest; it was innovative, looked cool and had plenty of functionality. That said, I began to follow the Android movement closely and had my interest peaked when the HTC Incredible was announced. For me, the idea of a touch screen, open source, speed, etc. had me interested and I was very happy to hear that the Incredible would be available on Verizon.

I pre-ordered the phone and due to a “glitch” with the ordering, I actually got my phone a few days before it was available in stores.

And Then There Was One

As much as I loved the Blackberry Curve, it was a faint memory as soon as I powered up the HTC Droid Incredible. Out of the box, it was impressive; even with Android 2.1 (modified with HTC Sense). But once I unlocked and rooted it, a whole new world of power and control was unleashed; I was hooked. I quickly installed apps like Titanium Backup, Wireless Tether and SetCPU; which boosted performance and provided me with a hotspot at home and away (hooray for unlimited data plans).

I realized the advantages of having an unlocked and rooted Android device, when Google released updates to the OS like Gingerbread and I was able to install it on my phone days after Google I/O. Rooting and modding were a bit more difficult in the early days of Android and unfortunately, I spent a few late nights trying to get myself out of a looped bootloader (I quickly learned the value of doing a system backup before installing mods) but like I said, I was hooked. My next phone was the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus, which was another step up in device and OS. Yes, I pre-ordered the Nexus as well and had this phone until I switched to T-mobile in mid-2013; now I have the Samsung Galaxy S4. The only major downfall of the Galaxy Nexus was Verizon. They pre-installed some bloatware and updates were not as quick as a “true” Nexus device but unlocking and rooting solved that problem easily enough. The battery life of the Nexus was alright but the S4 is so much better. I used Cyanogen Mod on my Nexus and the S4 has Touchwiz; I love CM and this version of Touchwiz isn’t too bad.

Android has since made leaps and bounds in performance, options and overall appearance. I started with Eclair and am now using Kit-Kat (Android 4.4) on my Nexus devices (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7) and Android 4.3 on my S4. It may surprise you to know that I have not rooted my S4 because frankly, I haven’t needed to. I keep telling myself, “I need to root this thing” but that hasn’t happened yet. But one thing is for sure, Android is the choice for me. It’s been several years now since I first uninstalled iTunes from my computer and even with my early curiosity with Apple, I’ve never looked back; though you should know that I have since reinstalled iTunes on my computer. Why? Well, my wife has an iPad which she loves but that’s a story for another day.

So that’s a look at my mobile journey. It started out a bit painful but it’s been a fun ride. I’m excited to see where the next few years take us with mobile. With things like Smart Watches, Google Now, Chromecast and more, it’s looking like there’s plenty more to come. So hears to the future, and the past.

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