In 2013, Google released the Google Now Launcher as the default launcher for the Google Nexus 5. Fast forward to 2014, and the tech giant made the launcher available for users to install on Android 4.1+ devices. The main advantage of this launcher was its ability to provide quick access to Google Now cards, offering services such as weather updates, scheduling, nearby restaurants, voice search, and voice assistance.
However, by 2017, Google informed its partners that the launcher would no longer receive updates, as its primary features were already directly available for OEMs. As a result, there was no longer a need for OEMs to install the launcher for users. At that time, Google was also developing the Pixel Launcher, an exclusive launcher for the Google Pixel series, which effectively served as the successor to the Google Now Launcher, just as the Nexus series was replaced by the Pixel series.
Interestingly, the Google Now Launcher continued to function until recently. According to a 9to5Google teardown analysis of a test APK, Google is now preparing to discontinue the Google Now Launcher. An interface in the test version reveals that the launcher will cease to operate in April. As we are already in April, it is estimated that Google will issue a reminder when it releases a new official version.
Once the Google Now Launcher is disabled, the system will automatically use the built-in launcher, causing minimal impact on users aside from interface changes. With a lifespan of 10 years, the Google Now Launcher is considered a long-lasting product in Google’s lineup.