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Google app beta update resizes app icons, auto rotates your home screen

Derek Walter | Jan. 14, 2016
The new look makes the app layout a little cleaner and reformats the home screen when you rotate your phone 90 degrees.

google now launcher
Credit: Derek Walter

As we’ve pointed out before, Google’s apps are always a work in progress, particularly on Android. If you’re running the beta version of the Google app, an update to version 5.6 brings some cool new tricks like an auto-rotate home screen feature and more uniform app icon sizing.

This before-and-after GIF shows you how the launcher now reduces the size of apps with oversized icons in order to give a more consistent, grid-style layout.

icon normalize
With icon normalization, the sizes are automatically tweaked to give a more consistent look.

The Google Now Launcher will do this automatically once you update the Google app, provided you have the launcher installed, too.

The other new trick is an auto-rotate feature, which reformats the home screen layout when you turn your device sideways.

google now launcher autorotate
While the auto-rotate feature is rather useful, widgets may not resize all that well.

This can be turned off if it’s not to your liking. From the Google app go to Settings > Home Screen > Allow rotation and toggle it off. You may find some widgets don’t handle this new layout all that well. Since this is a beta release, expect Google and developers to find workarounds for this weirdness. 

The impact on you: The app icon resizing will bring some needed smoothness to your Android home screen. Developers have more freedom on Android than iOS in how their app icons look, but that has lead to home screens that look too crowded. The next upgrade needs to find a way to make the widgets resize better when switching to landscape mode for a more optimized experience.


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