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Say goodbye to the Google Now Launcher

The Google Now Launcher was a great way to optimize and simplify a smartphone. But, now it seems it is due to disappear from the Play Store and manufacturers won't be able to pre-install it on new devices soon. What is next and why will this launcher be missed?

The Now Launcher, which was last updated in November 2015, will be removed from the Play Store according to a report by Android Police. Smartphone manufacturers whose phones would have shipped from the factory with the Google Now launcher won't have it included from March 2017 forward. In particular, devices by the Lenovo Moto brand will lose a unique feature.

AndroidPIT lenovo c2 vs lenovo moto g4 play 4708
Lenovo C2 (left), Lenovo Moto G4 Play (right) with Google Launcher. / © AndroidPIT

What is the Now Launcher - what was good about it?

A launcher, generally speaking, is used to manage your startup screen and app overview. Often it has an additional info screen, on which more information or notification messages are displayed. The experience is enriched with animations and live backgrounds for a pleasing user experience. In addition, Sony, Samsung and HTC have their own custom launchers to make their smartphones stand out.

Google Now Launcher Install on Google Play

Why should we miss the Now Launcher?

Many launchers aren't optimal. Often, they make the smartphone slow or they do not provide the best tools to bring order to the chaos of the installed apps. Alternative launchers were made exactly for this reason. Google's free Now Launcher also became a popular way to optimize smartphones later due to its simplicity.

Opinion by Brittany McGhee
The launcher is one of the first things I replace on a new smartphone.
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Over the years, the Now Launcher has been downloaded over 50 million times. We unfortunately don't know how many devices it it active on. However, the number of downloads is higher than other launchers, like NovaSmart or Apex. The latter, of course, have a new opportunity ahead of them if the Google Now launcher disappears.

Google makes room for other launchers

From the leaked e-mail regarding the Now Launcher shared by AndroidPolice, it is clear that Google will provide the SearchLauncher app in a final form. This will allow the integration of Google Now into the custom launchers made by manufacturers. Sony has already put this page in its launcher already.

sony xperia z5 nougat home
The Sony launcher "Xperia Home" integrated after the Nougat update with Google Now. / © AndroidPIT

Manufacturers can no longer use the Now Launcher from March 1. They should instead rely on the Launcher3 app that integrates the Search Launcher Services library, which is the standard of the Android Open Source Project.

Is the Pixel launcher going to be available for everyone instead?

One could speculate now that the Pixel Launcher - the new launcher from Google - will be available for all devices instead of the Now Launcher in the Play Store. This is unlikely, however, as Google has so far focused only on the unique features of the Pixel smartphones, just like with Google Assistant.

Pixel Launcher Install on Google Play

Google's tendency is to remove apps one by one from the Play Store, like Google Camera or the Nexus Launcher.

Google Camera Install on Google Play

The same fate is now waiting for the Now Launcher and maybe even more Google apps. What's next? The keyboard app? The clock? Or even the calendar?

Which launcher do you use?
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How do you feel about the loss of this launcher? Is it good for Google to make way for the competition again?

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Readers' favorite comments

  • Francesco V. 1 week ago

    Personally I don't feel anything about the possibility of losing the Now Launcher. It is simply not customizable. In every smartphone I use(d) I tried many launchers and always come back to the Nova Launcher (which offers many Pixel Launcher's features).
    BTW, the only thing that concerns me is that Google, ehm... Alphabet, is more and more converging towards an Apple-like walled garden approach. This is the real loss.

  • Jeff Turley 1 week ago

    Ever since I downloaded Nova Prime everything else seems lacking.

  • storm 1 week ago

    I am a fan of the now launcher. But I use Google Now heavily. I also find it much more streamlined than other launchers. I don't need customization, but high efficiency. Most other launchers over complicate things.

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