The Moto X 2014 is perhaps the best Android smartphone ever made. Physically, its perfection. The device’s expansive 5.2-inch display is absolutely gorgeous. Colors are vivid and video looks as good as it ever has on any smartphone. Its speakers are loud and its rear-facing camera is a decent stand-in for a point-and-shoot camera.
Where the Moto X 2014 runs into some trouble is software. You might have heard that the Moto X 2014 includes a very basic version of Android 4.4.4 KitKat that doesn’t come with carrier bloat and apps that no one is going to use. That’s not entirely accurate though. Moto X 2014 devices purchased from carriers like AT&T and Verizon do come with a bit of pre-installed software and even the Moto X 2014 Pure Edition comes with one software quark that’s not easy to change. There’s a giant Google Search Bar that not only appears when you access Google Now, but sits at the top of every Home Screen page, taking up valuable screen real estate.
Here’s how to get rid of the Google Search bar on the Moto X 2014 so that you have more space to place your on widgets and add-ons on your screen. This will work on any Moto X 2014 whether it’s a Pure Edition purchased from Motorola’s Moto Maker website or a branded edition from Verizon Wireless or AT&T.
Getting rid of the Google Search bar on the Moto X 2014 is possible thanks to a feature that Google doesn’t advertise very much and few normal users know about. What users experience when they start-up their smartphone is called a lock screen and what they see after that is called a launcher. Launchers are simply enough to understand. Every time you press the Home button looking for another app to open or swipe to the right to look at Google Now, you’re interacting with a launcher. Every time you look at the list of all the apps installed on your Android device, you’re looking at a launcher.
In trying to create a pure Android experience, Motorola includes what’s called the Google Experience Launcher on their devices. If it looks completely different from what you’re used to seeing on other smartphones that you’ve owned – that’s why. The Google Experience Launcher is the closest you can get to a pure Google experience.
You can’t just disable the Search Bar that appears on the Google Experience Launcher on every page. That’s a shame since, it’s the best designed and best looking Android Launcher there is. What we can do is replace the Google Experience Launcher on the Moto X 2014 altogether.
To make this process as smooth as possible you should already have signed up for a Google Account, set-up your Moto X 2014 and have access to the Google Play Store.
Unlock your Moto X 2014 by putting in your Pin Code or pattern.
Look for the all apps button at the bottom of your screen. By default it appears in the middle between the Chrome browser icon and the Messages icon.
Now look around for the icon that represents the Google Play Store. You may have to swipe from right to left on your screen a few times before you see it.
Inside the Google Play Store there are dozens of launchers that area available for download. They each run the gamut, some or nice looking, refined and free. Others have basic features but require users to pay something for more advanced options. For the purposes of this tutorial we’re downloading Nova Launcher, a free Android Launcher that has some premium options if you want them. Tap on the Search field at the top of the Google Play Store and type “Nova.” Then select Nova Launcher from the drop-down menu.
Now tap the green Install button on the right side of your screen.
Because Nova Launcher does a lot of things that Google thinks users should explicitly grant permission for, you’ll need to approve of the access that Nova Launcher needs.
Wait for Nova Launcher to be installed and then tap Open.
Now you can import apps and settings from other launchers if you want, but we’re going to skip past that here. Instead, place your finger on the Google bar at the top of your screen and then tap Remove. Then tap Nova Settings.
Tap the red box labeled Not set as Default inside Nova Launcher’s settings.
From the pop-up select Nova Launcher from the list and select Always.
From this point on whenever you turn on your phone or hit the Home button on your Moto X 2014, you’ll be taken directly to this new Nova Launcher instead. You can completely customize the Nova launcher to suit your needs in addition to getting rid of the Google Search bar. For example, we’ve seen users replace it with a Bing Search bar instead.
On other devices, adding the Nova Launcher as default would affect Google Now, but the Moto X 2014 allows users to trigger voice commands from anywhere. As such, voice actions are still available in Nova Launcher. This does mean that you won’t see the Google Now panel that sits to the left of the Home screens by default.