While many are not aware of the fact that Google currently have two launchers – Now launcher and Pixel Launcher – owned by the company on the Android OS Playstore, a few that are cognizant of such detail however do not know that the Google Now Launcher (available to all Android users and the stock launcher on the Nexus phones) will be giving way for the Pixel Launcher (exclusive to the Google Pixel and Pixel XL only) to enjoy a lone reign of dominance as the only Google-owned Launcher on the Playstore.
Since its 2014 release, the Google Now Launcher has been a top choice launcher for Android users who were/are on the look out for a simple interface and still retaining the stock Android home screen.
According to AndroidPolice, Google has alerted Google Mobile Service (GMS) partners of its intention to remove Google Now Launcher from the Play Store in coming weeks – though Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs) that make use of Google Now Launcher have options of either using Launcher3 from AOSP or building a new one. However, OEMs not making use of the Now Launcher can add the Google Now panel to their own launchers by using the Search Launchers Services library.
According to a screenshot of the e-mail sent to Google Mobile Services(GMS) partners by Google’s Android Team (as provided below), it can be seen that Google thanked partners for their patience and support and as well provided alternatives to OEMs using the Now Launcher or those planning to use them in their devices in the future as they plan to end support for the launcher. Google also implored partners to adopt the Google Search Launcher services (SLS) as it allows easy access to Google Now cards.
Google also plans to remove the Now Launcher from the optional GMS package on March 1st – this means no devices pre-installed with the Now Launcher will be approved after the March 1st deadline. Those that will be affected are users who just installed the Google Now Launcher on their devices from the Play store. They can keep using the launcher but according to the new developments, shouldn’t expect any improvements or updates.
This news should normally not be much of a problem to any Google Now Launcher lover if the restriction placed on the Pixel Launcher were also scrapped or modified… but the opposite is the case as Google decided to leave the Pixel Launcher access to Pixel and Pixel XL users alone. Hopefully, all Android users will be allowed usage of the Pixel Launcher in coming weeks too!