Google’s reportedly working to simplify the number of Android launchers it has available for users, and will shortly be removing the Google Now Launcher from the Google Play Store.
The app, which essentially approximates a stock Android experience on handsets that feature manufacturer or operator-modified interfaces, is set to be removed from the store “over the coming weeks,” according to an email sent from an Android OEM partner to AndroidPolice.
In essence, what that means for users is that the Google Now Launcher won’t be available to download from the Play Store in the future, though it will continue to function even after it has been removed. In its place, Google has released the newer Pixel Launcher, but that’s currently only available to a restricted list of devices. We’d expect to see it opened up in future though, given the removal of Google Now Launcher.
For handset makers and other partners using GNL, the ability to pre-install the launcher on devices will disappear after March 1, and no new devices with the launcher pre-installed will be approved beyond that date. With the date set for the start of March, that’ll be exactly three years since Google quietly introduced the Now Launcher back in 2014.
The newer Pixel launcher was introduced with the launch of the Pixel devices at the end of 2016, and keeps much of the same functionality of Google Now Launcher, but provides a different app drawer and search box UI.
While the Pixel launcher isn’t available from the Play Store for most devices, we’ve had no trouble downloading the APK and sideloading it onto our devices.
Related: Cortana vs Google Now vs Siri: Which is best?
Watch: Google Pixel vs iPhone 7
Have you been waiting to get your hands on the new Pixel Launcher? Let us know in the comments below!