How to Install Google Now on Ice Cream Sandwich


Updated: Alternate method to flash from a custom Recovery Image, and video showing the final result.

Android Jelly Bean brought with it a whole new way to search and get up-to-date and location relevant information: Google Now. Search results are fast, beautiful, and usually pretty accurate. When compared against Apple’s Siri, Google Now wins in many regards.

The bad news? Officially Google Now is only available on tablets and smartphones running Google’s latest operating systems (4.1 and 4.2). Sure, there are ways to hack the feature in, we even reported on one such method back in July. Pocketnow’s Stephen Schenck sums up that method:

“(it’s) a little involved, requiring root, multiple edits to build.prop, and some file renaming.”

If you would like to run Google Now on your non-Jelly Bean smartphone or tablet without that level of hacking, now you can! All you need is a rooted device running a deodexed Ice Cream Sandwich ROM and the ability to side-load an APK. Pretty simple, right?

The app, called GNow Handlebars, has been around for a little while now, but only recently got some updates that we feel makes it a viable option for our readers. Simply download the APK from the XDA-Developers thread, open the app on your device, and follow the instructions and you’re all set!

Unless it doesn’t work, and then…

Unfortunately, the GNow Handlebars solution doesn’t always work. If you run into that problem, before you spend literally hours and hours trying to fix the problem, there’s an easier way!

First off, after you’ve used GNow Handlebars, if it didn’t work, re-open the app and use the Restore option. This will put everything back the was before you started the process (and you can uninstall the app).

Next, head over to this thread on and download the latest Flashable zip, copy it to your device, reboot into your favorite custom recovery, and flash away. Once you’ve rebooted you should have Google Now available — with a catch: you might have to launch it from the persistent search widget or Google Search app in your app drawer rather than simply swiping up. That’s probably a small price to pay for all the cool stuff you get with Google Now, right?

Let us know if you’re planning on trying this, and report on your results in the comments below!

Source: XDA (1, 2)

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.