When I first learned about how I could enable the Google Experience Launcher (GEL) after a recent update to Google Search, I decided to only try it on my 2012 Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and not try it on my HTC One. I like HTC Sense 5 on the One, particularly the Blinkfeed feature and switching to the GEL means I would lose Blinkfeed.
After using the GEL for a while on my tablets I grew fond of being able to swipe left to open Google Now and the ability to quickly initiate a voice search by simply saying “Ok Google,” so I decided to try it out on the HTC One. Discovering Twisted Home Manager, which makes switching launchers easy, was another mitigating factor. If I decided I missed Sense too much, I could simply switch back to it.
I did some research for ways to access Blinkfeed as an “app,” but it appears the only way to do so is to prune out all of the panels in Sense so that all you are left with is Blinkfeed, and that seems too extreme. Instead, I have decided to use the Flipboard widget on the GEL, which provides quick access to Flipboard. Flipboard is really much more robust than Blinkfeed, and so far I have not missed Blinkfeed.
The GEL works well on the HTC One, but I did discover one problem that required a work around. The default lock screen on the One is designed to work with Sense, so when you access any of the apps from the lock screen the Sense launcher appears rather than the GEL. My solution is to install WidgetLocker, which is a lock screen alternative that appeared before Google added the ability to display widgets on the default Android lock screen.
WidgetLocker only provides one lock screen panel, which means you can only display one widget on the lock screen. Android supports multiple lock screen panels, each that can display a different widget. WidgetLocker can, however, display multiple rows of app icons that make it quick to launch apps, and it also provides a variety of different unlock sliders, including the Ice Cream sandwich slider that provides a quick way to launch Google Now or mute the phone.
There is much more that WidgetLocker provides, I recommend that you check it out for yourself, but my main point is that if you want to try the GEL on a “stock” HTC One you will want to install an alternative lock screen to prevent from finding yourself in Sense. (You can always get back to the GEL by tapping the Home button, but why should you have to do that?)
My experiment with the GEL on the HTC One has made me realize how the lock screen is related to the launcher, and consequently, it is obvious that Google needs to also provide a lock screen along with the GEL when (or if) Google decides to make it available for download from the Google Play app store.