Google is set to shut down the Google Now Launcher this month
Originally released in 2013, the Google Now Launcher was the default launcher for the Google Nexus 5. In 2014, Google opened up the launcher for users to install on Android 4.1+ devices.
The launcher’s primary advantage was its quick access to Google Now cards, offering services such as weather updates, schedule management, nearby restaurants, voice search, and voice assistant capabilities.
In 2017, Google informed partners that the launcher would cease updates as its main features were already provided directly to OEMs, eliminating the need for them to install the launcher for users.
At the time, Google was developing the Pixel Launcher, an exclusive launcher for the Google Pixel series of devices. In essence, it was the successor to the Google Now Launcher, just as the Nexus series was replaced by the Pixel series.
Interestingly, the Google Now Launcher remains functional to this day. However, at some point this month, Google will disable the launcher. A teardown analysis of a test version APK by 9to5Google reveals that Google is prepared to shut down the Google Now Launcher.
An interface in the test version indicates that the Google Now Launcher will cease to function in April. As it is already April, it is likely that Google will issue a reminder when it releases the new official version.
Once the Google Now Launcher is disabled, the system will automatically switch to the default launcher. For users, this will result in a change in the interface but should not significantly impact functionality.
Lasting a decade before being shut down, the Google Now Launcher stands as one of Google’s more long-lived products.