The Google Now Launcher has been updated and is now available for all Nexus and Google Play Edition devices. From my perspective the advantage of this “stock” launcher is being able to swipe right to access Google Now cards that give you just the right information, at just the right time.
In order to more seamlessly manage the Android upgrade process Google have been unbundling many of the components of the Android experience (Keyboard, Launcher) and placing them into the Google Play Store where Google controls the pace of updates and not the carrier.
According to the Google Play Store listing the other key features of the launcher:
• Google Now on your home screen – it’s easier than ever to get just the right information at just the right time.
• Just say “Ok Google” – when you’re on your home screen, just say “Ok Google” to trigger voice input. Then say your search query. Or tell your phone what to do, like send a text message, get directions, or play a song (available in the US, UK, and Canada).
• Faster search – tap the search box and you can enter your query immediately.
• Easy access to your favorite Google products and services, like Gmail, YouTube, and Maps.
• Larger viewing area – the status and navigation bars are now translucent, so your wallpaper pops from every pixel, and is even visible when you expand your apps drawer (when supported by device).
• Intuitive wallpaper picker – select any image that’s stored on your device, or in the cloud. Position and preview your wallpaper before you set it.