If you have an Android device with either KitKat or Lollipop then you can try out the brand new vertical scrolling launcher on your device right now.
Just in case you missed it, at Google I/O we saw the announcement for the Android M developer preview. This was released for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and the Nexus Player so if you have one of those devices and you are curious about what is new then you are in luck. I wrote up a tutorial for how to install the Android M Developer Preview for your device so you might want to check that out if you are curious.
For those of you do not own one of those Nexus devices, you can still get a little taste of Android M right now.
The launcher is the most user-facing feature of any Android device so being able to test out the version that is in the Android M Developer Preview is almost like getting to test out the whole developer preview yourself. Sure, some underlying features of the developer preview won’t be there but some of the most talked about new features will be. For example, in the Android M Developer Preview, the App Drawer no longer scrolls from left to right in pages. Instead, the App Drawer will scroll up and down, in one long page, and it is categorized with large letters on the left side for quick and easy navigating.
Another thing that you might notice at the top is quick access to some of your most used applications. Some are saying that these change throughout the day but I haven’t seen that yet. Better yet, above those four quick access applications you have a search bar that lets you quickly and easily search through all of the applications that you have installed. The goal with this new launcher is to let you get to your applications quicker and easier. You no longer have to swipe multiple times to get to an application at the end of your application drawer. Instead you just do one fast swipe and the inertia will take you all the way to the end.
It should be noted that to undo this launcher modification, you will have to use a file explorer(with root access) and delete the entire /system/app/velvet folder. Or do a factory reset. Either that, or just use a different launcher altogether.
Install Android M Developer Preview Launcher
- Download and Install the Google Now Launcher
- Download an Install ES File Explorer
- Download and Install the Velvet.apk File
- Enable the Google Now Launcher
This whole process is very easy thanks to FaserF over on XDA as they have done most of the work for us. If you don’t have the Google Now Launcher installed already, go ahead and hit that link the tutorial above and install it to your KitKat or Lollipop device. Once that has been done, you’ll want to download the ES File Explorer application. If you already have a file explorer app installed or maybe you prefer a different one(like Root Browser or something), then go ahead and use that one instead. I just prefer ES File Explorer so that is the one that I recommend to the readers here.
Then you’ll want to download the velvet.apk file that is linked in the tutorial as well. To install this, you might need to launch the settings of Android and then tap on Security where you’ll find an ‘Unknown Sources’ option. You will need to make sure that this is enabled since you are installing an APK file that isn’t from the Google Play Store. Once the Unknown Sources option is enabled you can launch ES File Explorer and then browse to the Download folder. From here, you should see the velvet.apk file that you downloaded earlier and you’ll just have to tap on it to initiate the install.
Go through the installation steps to get velvet.apk installed and then you are done. All you have to do now is hit the home button to bring you back to your launcher, choose the Google Now Launcher if you don’t have it enabled by default already and the process is done. If you don’t see the vertical scrolling application drawer just yet, try to restart the phone or tablet and it should appear after that. You’ll also notice that you have a redesigned widget section as well which keeps things much more organized and easier to get to than before.
Have you tried the vertical scrolling app drawer from the Android M Developer Preview? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it as opposed to the horizontal one that we have had for years. I know that new things can take some time to get used to but I have really started to enjoy it and I’m looking to hear which one you prefer as well.