Nova Launcher and KitKat

With the recent Android 4.4 (KitKat) update there have been lots of questions about what this means for Nova Launcher. I still need to do a lot more research and work before I have definitive answers for all the questions. However I can give a brief summary of what to expect.

Nova will be updated to include, as options, much of the Nexus 5 launcher's look and feel. I've included a screenshot of an unstable development version of Nova Launcher. You can see KitKat style light folders icons and background, circular page indicator, and transparent system bars (on the Nexus 5). These will be optional so if you prefer the darker Jellybean style you can keep it.

Transparent system bars will not be available to all devices. The system bars are drawn by the SystemUI component, not the launcher. KitKat introduces an API for apps such as Nova Launcher to request that the SystemUI draw these with only a light gradient background. Not all KitKat devices will support this functionality for performance reasons, and Nova will be unable to force it. Also older Android versions are unaware of this new API in KitKat and thus will not get transparent system bars. The exception is that some devices, such as the TouchWiz SGS4, had transparent system bars implemented by the manufacturer skin, and Nova is able to make use of their private APIs for this.

Google Now integration, in the exact same way that Google does so, is not possible. This includes the swipe to the left for Google Now and the "Ok, Google" hotword. The Google Experience Launcher (GEL) is not a stand alone component, but actually a bundle of Google Search, Google Now, and GEL. With current APIs, it's not possible for Nova to access Google Now in the exact same way that the GEL does. However I am looking into ways to achieve similar functionality. Quick access to Google Now is already possible by swiping up from the home button (on devices with navigation bars), or by assigning a Nova Gesture to launch Google Now. Some users have suggested placing a full screen Google Now widget on the left most page. I'll be investigating further enhancements in this area, but it's important to note that the exact Google experience is not possible for non-Google apps.

The new launcher also redesigned the app and widgets drawer. Google has removed Widgets from the App Drawer and now places them in their own drawer accessible by long-pressing in empty space. I'm looking into how a setup like this could work with Nova Launcher. it is not a straightforward change due to Nova's additional functionality such as custom drawer tabs. But it is something I can take inspiration from.

There are also a number of bug fixes and performance improvements that Google has built into the new launcher that I will be investigating. Nova supports a much wider range of android versions and devices than the Google Launcher so performance improvements often need lots of testing or modification to ensure they don't actually hurt performance on some devices.

SMS integration with Hangouts poses a problem for unread badges in Nova Launcher. Unfortunately Hangouts does not provide an API for other apps to access the unread count. I am looking into workarounds.

Some Nova Launcher Prime users have asked if I plan on charging again. Don't worry, the answer is no. Nova Launcher Prime continues to sell well, which is great as I love working on it.

I cannot provide ETAs. I will most likely be spreading some changes across multiple Nova Launcher updates to get them out to users sooner.

[edit] Beta is out[/edit]

I don't have any beta ready for users just yet, but when I do you can help test by joining the beta community at https://plus.google.com/communities/103449253667195874971 and then opt-in for the Nova beta at https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.teslacoilsw.launcher/join and TeslaUnread https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.teslacoilsw.notifier/join . When a beta is ready you will see it as an update in the Play Store. Please note that betas are early releases and are not fully tested yet, if you are uncomfortable with this then please wait until the final release as it will be heavily tested.
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114 comments
 
Thanks for the in depth heads up on your work with Nova and KitKat +Kevin Barry some interesting aspects to think about and I personally think the future of Nova Launcher just got better.
 
Thanks, looking forward to the update!
For sms badges, i use MissedIt! with Tesla Unread, can you make TeslaUnread pull info from notification bar for unread badges?
 
I'll also need to think of some way to integrate Google Now at the left. There must be some way...
 
Good luck sorting this all out. :P
 
I'm so happy I gave you my money that I can't even describe it.
Can't wait for the next update!
 
Thank you for that very informative reply, it's great to know you are on top of things. 
 
Is the nexus 4 and the nexus 7 will have the transparent nav bar and status bar possibility?
 
Ok. Just this post from the developer is enough to go from the free version to the paid version. Honesty and commitment. Way to go +Kevin Barry
 
Nova has and will always be by far my favorite launcher. Keep up the top quality work +Kevin Barry I'm sure whatever you do with nova in the future will continue to be excellent :o)
 
I totally agree with +Alessio Scaccia.
Nova Prime has been my favorite app ever. Bought for my wife and kids as well. And always looking forward to the upcoming updates. 
 
Thanks Kevin for keeping us up to date on the rise of the Nova with a touch of KitKat (It might be time for a Kit-Kat break) :-) 
 
You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar :)
Thanks for the sweet update
 
Making bacon can't wait for it to roll out
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Widgets could be done just by having a disable tabs, since Nova cam already add widgets by long press. 
 
This is great since us Nexus 4 owners are left out of Google Experience. I've been using Nova for months and just bought Prime yesterday.
 
This is great. I have a gs3 and nova is my luncher of choice. Good job.. 
 
+Kevin Barry something I've always wanted to see is an option for Nova to have a google search bar across the top, like the official AOSP launcher, but still maintain the app drawer button in the top right corner. Something like this: http://i.imgur.com/mNU7y2f.png
 
Wouldn't mind paying a small fee for the update, seeing how I've been using nova pro for years now. Great product!
 
Does anyone want to give me some Google Play credit so I can finally be able to buy Nova Launcher Prime? Lol. I'm a huge Nova fan, whenever a friend or family member gets a new Android device, I always recommend them to download Nova Launcher and some icon packs. They then tell me how beautiful their device looks. :)
 
+Jimmy Baez Maybe your family members could club together in appreciation of your great recommendation...
 
Can't wait! Even without the new looks, I'd rather stay on Nova Launcher than use GEL, due to the many customization options it offers. One of the best purchases I've ever made.
 
You can use the 4.3 notification listener api to figure out the hangouts unread count.
 
Don't worry nova, I'll be back with you in couple days for grid, no-text & icon pack, KitKat launcher quite limited actually. Please consider if we can search app when we're in app-drawer I think that will be useful.
 
+Kevin Barry imho GEL is nothing special. After half hour i was back installing Nova and didn't miss anything GEL has to offer. OK Google command can be only given if you turn on and unlock the phone. Nothing special about it. Sliding from left to get in to Google now is useless as you can get there when you slide from bottom up. Also, you can't add rows and columns and you can't back up any settings. Finally, only Google now uses full screen aside from GEL.
 
No improvements needed for me. I've run Nova and GEL side-by-side and there's no contest. Nova is lightyears ahead. Easily one of the best apps I've ever purchased. 
 
looking forward to nova gel! this screenshot: not enough space between pages dots and dock icons. but still nice to look at. ;)
 
Yeah nova rock for grid, esp for huge screen size like note, I set it up to 7x7 and 6x7, plus icons are automatically shrinked and not to forget its lightweight.

GB, ICS, JB, Kit Kat, Lime Pie, M, N, O....
Nova is my Default Launcher without a doubt :)
 
Thanks for taking the time to fill us in. I ordered a nexus because, for 350, why not. After a couple of days, it will probably gather dust until there is a stable Nova release. Love Nova, keep up the excellent work. 
 
About the voice activation: have you thought about working with 3rd party apps? "utter! Voice Commands" is still in Beta, but it's an awesome and flexible system, which integrates perfectly with other apps.
 
I tried the Google Experience launcher on my N4 and hated it. Really hope progress is swift on this Nova update, I just can't live without it. Best Launcher ever.
 
Add notifications for hangouts and the new exchange email?
 
Thanks for the update. Feature I'm most looking forward to is the transparent system bars. It's nice to show off the whole of the 'dat screen. 
 
Thanks dude. You've made this N5 owner's day.
 
I need this now lol love nova features but love the look of the new launcher too ie folders, new way of adding widgets etc.. The 2 together is just a match made.. Cant stop looking at this post. 
 
Already love Nova on my N5...anything else is a bonus!
Thanks for the update!
 
Here's to the new widgets management in 4.4 making the current awful Widget Picker of Nova go away...
 
Keep up the great work. It feels so strange to not being using Nova on the Nexus 5 after so many months/years on every other device, so I will be checking often for updates and might even grow tired of the Google Launcher.
 
I used GEL for about 5 minutes before I switched back to Nova! Nova Launcher all day every day!
 
Nova FTW.
Keep us updated on the latest developments toward the new OS integration. Looking forward to it.
 
Unfortunately, Google play store has stopped. It has really messed things up.. What should I do
 
Awesome job! I love this Launcher. Using on my N5. I'll take my gestures over swipe left for Now any day. 
 
I've used Nova Prime since August last year, and it's been the best app I've ever bought, hands down. Thanks for the update and for an outstanding launcher, +Kevin Barry! 
 
No worries on the features from the GEL you can't get. What you have in the screenshot is awesome and all that's really realistically portable. Can't wait!
 
+Kevin Barry, the guys who designed the app Dashclock Widget were able to add an extension to get Hangouts to register notifications with text preview. Perhaps they might have some ideas for you. Thas including the new SMS integration. 
 
Nova is an awesome launcher I would like to see an option to backup and restore from Google drive for my layout, I'm always looking towards new features 
 
Can't wait nova launcher the only launcher I use 
 
Love Nova for years! Just wish I could choose transparent on screen button background for my LG G2 when using Nova. I can only get that to work with stock launcher. 
 
Looks awesome! Been hoping for this!
 
This is why I support the Nova Launcher. I didn't have to buy the premium version, but I did it anyway. We have to support products like this one. Thank you for the update.
 
My son just bought the Moto X and complained about the native launcher. I told him about Nova Launcher and he is happy as a clam now. Keep up the great work! 
 
google took one step backwards with android 4.4 update regarding android homescreen... they just want android users to use their services more and more... good thing abt android is that there are awesome alternatives like nova launcher that we can use instead of the default one... looking forward to the awesome launcher experience...
 
+Rajesh Babu Shrestha I disagree. They want them to use their services because they work better. Everything on android is still open and even Google Now is opt-in. Not opt-out
 
Any idea how it will look on galaxy modals
 
Hey Kevin, just wanted to say that I've used Nova Prime on my Galaxy Note 2 since the very first day I received my phone, ( can't stand touchwiz). Personally believe your launcher is the best. I recently sideloaded Google Experience Launcher on my phone, played with it for a minute then reverted back to Nova Prime. Guess what? I'll stick with Prime. 
 
Wooow...Just Loved the Screen Shot... Thanks Nova Launcher Developer team... Thats why i love Nova Launcher :D
 
Please don't forget to ICS 4.0.4 support. This will be a great enhancement of ICS.
 
Just got a Nexus 5 upgrading from a GS3 running Nova Launcher. The first thing I miss is not having a limit to the number of apps in a folder.  Secondly, some customization to the grid/icon sizes and the dock. Looking forward to what NOVA Launcher holds in the future.
 
Grouse launcher mate, I enjoy my gadget more with Nova. 
 
Thanks as always. I'm proud to be a prime member. :)
 
LOL. When I see "Nova" I think "OpenStack", not "Android" :-)
 
Why not just install Ubuntu on a phone. LOL
 
Could you just push an update for Nexus 5 users so we can get those transparent bars? :) I can't wait! Love NOVA
 
That was such a great, detailed post on your roadmap. Thanks for the candor. I'm excited about the future!
 
+Kevin Barry the dashclock widget shows unread counts from hangouts somehow. Maybe you can do what they're doing. It actually did it with the standard messaging app better than nova did. This is because if you had an unread message but cleared the notification, novs would get rid of the count badge. However dash clock always showed the unread count until it was actually read. Since dash clock is open source you should be able to figure out how they're doing it. They must be querying the SMS database directly?
 
Personally i'd prefer Nova launcher to just stay with the code of the aosp launcher like it is today. 
 
Once the transparent notification bar comes out I will get this on my Nexus 5 :D
 
Kevin, you're great. Thanks so much for keeping us in the loop with your future plans for the launcher. I'd buy Prime again and again if I could! 
 
The thing about the GE launcher is that Google are probably going to keep adding new features to it, which is going to be a pain in the butt for all the hardworking developers of 3rd-party launchers who have to keep playing catch-up. It might be better to go with +Daniel Blaney on this one - support the cosmetic changes (as options), such as the gradients, the page indicators, and the outline-style mic on the search bar - but don't go overboard trying to reproduce the entire feature list.
 
Can't wait, while GEL is nice and all, I miss all the options Nova has.

+Kevin Barry If you integrate the Page Indicator dots, please also include a fast-scroll mechanism like maybe on touchwiz. So if you scroll over the dots you can jump many pages at once.
 
I just got my Nexus 5 and the GEL is driving me crazy already. My main beef with GEL is that the row/column grid is so loose that I can't fit nearly as much useful stuff on my home screens as I could before on my Nexus 4 with Nova Launcher.  Of course, that obnoxious and useless Google search bar, present on all home screens, is part of the problem. The swipe-from-the-left for Google Now is nice but it doesn't make up for all the grief that comes with GEL. I'll be switching back to Nova as soon as I can.
 
TBH I don't get why Google added the swipe from left gesture for calling Google Now. How was the swipe from bottom not good enough, or how is it really different for that matter? So as far as I'm concerned that's definitely not something you should worry about. The "okay google" thing though is yeah, I'd love to have that in Nova.
 
Personally the changed looks in the google launcher are a step in the wrong direction. The gradients on the widgets is awful and the new font is ugly. I hope they revert the 4.4 toast notifications as well. The new circular ones look out of place with the rest of holo.
 
Nova launcher is by far my favorite launcher, I always come back to it. I'll support and recommend your work as long as android will be around. Keep it up!
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Thanks again for your efforts,, much appreciated! 
 
+Kevin Barry If you didn't know already, Launcher3 in AOSP seems to be identical to GEL, only without Google Now.
So you should be able to find useful source there.
 
Great! So far, so good. Nexus 5, kitkat 4.4, nova launcher 2.3beta1.
Love it.
 
I've had Nova prime for a couple of weeks note and love it. I installed the GEL launcher this week and also Aviate, but in less than a hour I was back to Nova. It just stands heads and shoulders over the rest.
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Very excited when this finally rolls out...looking forward to it...Yayyy!!!
 
hi Kevin
1.) Thanks for your great work :o)
2.) a question: is it possible to have the dock in a resolution greater than 128x128? when i try to insert a png as background für the dock, it always becomes ugly blured. :o(
Thanks
 
Tough I paid for the premium version mails in my exchange account are not counted in the icon. Counter forze in 8 unread mails no matter how many mails I have unread. Any help on how to fix it?.. 
 
hi, if i purchase a prime key through paypal from your website, i have  a lifetime update too or not??
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