KitKat On Non-Nexus 5 Nexi

It’s only been a day since I’ve received the update and installed it on my 2013 Nexus 7, which might undermine the intent and content of this post, but I’m slightly perturbed to say the least, so what the hell. I previously read that the Google Experience Launcher (GEL) would not be accessible easily on Nexus tablets running KitKat since it is now bundled into the Google Search app and likely a Nexus 5 exclusive feature. The Nexus 4 might not get it either, at least for a while.

It’s true and you have to sideload a separate APK to get access to it. I don’t get that, not one bit. I understand that the launcher is no longer a part of the OS but it should be easier for KitKat devices, especially Nexi, to be able use it without any hassle.

Arguably, the Nexus 7 (2012 and especially the 2013 model) is and will continue to be a more popular device than the Nexus 5 and will have more visibility in the consumer market. So why doesn’t it receive all the goodies the Nexus 5 has without having to put on one’s “geek” hat. I know it’s “just a launcher” but this particular launcher has a visual design and function that makes Jelly Bean somewhat old and less attractive.

The new, more neutral approach to design on the Nexus 5 feels a bit more modern than the disco Holo blue on Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, and leaving it on the tablets and Nexus 4 and calling them “KitKat devices” is utterly confusing and idiotic. What remains on these devices is essentially the AOSP launcher except for the white status bar and some redesigned menus, and as Ron Amadeo wrote a while back, Google’s not really paying enough attention to AOSP Android.

The Nexus 10 might get away with not having the GEL because it could be replaced any day now, but the Nexus 7, in particular this year’s model, is, as I said before, a mass consumer device that sells great for a 7-inch Android tablet, let alone a Nexus device, and it shouldn’t be treated as a second class citizen. I’m fine with Google trying to push the Nexus 5 and it’s new “exclusive” features, but this is something that isn’t acceptable to me, and perhaps I’m the only one on the planet who has this problem. All I’m saying is that at the very least, Google should let that 12MB file you have to sideload be a part of the operating system or put it directly on the Play Store in an official capacity for certain devices.

I might be called out for being whiny, ungrateful, impatient, ignorant or downright vain, but you can’t expect me to use the Nexus 5 and then use a KitKat tablet that’s a Nexus and have it behave just about the same as before I pressed the update button, especially when I can hack my way to parity using somewhat non-dodgy means. Yes, I’m grateful for all of KitKat’s under-the-hood improvements as geek, but purely as an average consumer, I don’t see enough of a difference for it to matter; maybe that’s Google wants, who knows.

On another very “interesting” note, while the new wallpapers have made their way into the KitKat update, the old live wallpapers not on the Nexus 5 remain, and the new notification tones have not moved over either, which again is baffling. If you want a really in-depth walkthrough of KitKat and more information on this GEL business, Android Police has an awesome guide to go through.

I hope I’ll have to eat my own hat very soon and Google will perhaps simply put the launcher in the Play Store and all will be right with the world again, at least for me. But at this very particular point in time, in this moment, as of the writing of this post, I am pretty pissed and that’s, in part, why I have this blog. I sincerely hope that one day when I go into the archives and come across this article, I’ll laugh at myself for being a prat. Google, please make it happen, the sooner, the better.