Say goodbye to the Google Now Launcher

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. / © NextPit

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.

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.

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. / © NextPit

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.

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

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?
View results

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

Readers' favorite comments

  • Francesco V. Feb 13, 2017

    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 Feb 14, 2017

    Ever since I downloaded Nova Prime everything else seems lacking.

  • storm Feb 13, 2017

    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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  • Chris Feb 16, 2017 Link to comment

    I've tried most launchers, and continue to look at any new ones I see. But I keep returning to Nova Prime, time and time again. Very few others offer anywhere near as many options.


  • Barry Buchanan Feb 16, 2017 Link to comment

    I use Nova Prime. It gives you the ability to set the environment the way you want it. It beats the cookie cutter do it our way approach Google tends to use.


  • Reid Sartin Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Launcher3 + Google Now pane is roughly equal to Pixel Launcher. The pill widget will be gone, but ... meh. It's still just a swipe to Now or a tap to search.


  • Parred Hussain Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I love you Google launcher


  • Yolanda Banks Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I own Google pixel, not sure if Google is the best Launcher. For now Google has my Loyalty and looking for better things to come. I was a Samsung fan, but due to over heating and constant problems I switched to Google Pixel


  • Franklin Adams Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I own a Pixel. Thus far the Pixel launcher is good for my use case. I used to use Google Now when I owned a Galaxy, but it always seemed more like it was good enough rather than just good.


  • Bill Adams Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    When i first installed the Now launcher I loved it as it brought greater order to my apps. However competing launchers allowed even greater customization. Even later, i found they competed with other built-in Android apps so i returned to the OEM's launcher. Now, Microsoft introduced Arrow and Next for Android and both are beautiful and useful making google's launcher obsolete. Competition is healtht and entertaining. Great job Google and microsoft. you both have my loyal support!


  • Shankar Prasad Nandi Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    The Google Now launcher was absolute nonsense. Its only purpose was to advertise Google Now, and so has understandably been ditched.


  •   31
    Deactivated Account Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    said goodbye to GNL when lollipop came along...
    with its solid white persistent search bar and white app drawer, and androids stock icons which are a complete mess...
    installed Nova launcher, now I can't imagine using android without some form of customising..


  • Joshua Elias Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I downloaded the now launcher but after using Nova there really is no alternative better imo even the now launcher just didn't feel quite as good as Nova does.


  • Scott Lowe Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Been using Nova Launcher for over a year now on my 2014 Moto X PE. Don't really miss Google Now Launcher since Nova has all of its features, and many of the Pixel Launcher ones, too. I do wonder what Motorola will do now, though, going forward.


  • Michael-Rainabba Richardson Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Now Launcher was great, Pixel Launcher better. Glad I've got a Pixel and don't have to worry about Google taking back what they've created to carve out their own Android niche. They should have done it 5 years ago rather than letting carriers and manufacturers make such a mess of the experience.


  • Shashank Nimje Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    It will be missed for sure... Hope they come up with pixel launcher. Third party launchers do not have that finnes


  • Dean L. Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I haven't used the now launcher so I guess I don't know what I'll be missing. But if Google is going to kind of replace it with something they'll provide to the manufacturers then maybe that's a way of standardizing the Android experience.


  • Robb van Oostveen Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Pixel launcher is amazing. Launcher3 was preloaded on my Shield K1. Both are similar except app drawer.


  • Parvind Chahal Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    dont worry nova is better launcher


  • Jeff Turley Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Ever since I downloaded Nova Prime everything else seems lacking.


  • Carmelo Rivera Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    I don't like or use the Now Launcher. It's well optimized, but I think it's boring 💤 and the icons are too big.


  • Adrian Beer Feb 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Pixel exclusive^^ You can so easily install Google assistant if you have root or a custom rom.

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