Google is likely to be killing off the Google Now Launcher – the stock Android launcher since Google Now was released.
Android Police obtained a memo sent to OEM partners indicating the Now Launcher will no longer be available in the Play Store starting Q1 of this year. Companies which are interested in using the App will be able to do so, but it won’t be available to download for common users.
Many users use the Google Now Launcher as an alternative to all the other messy apps – as it is indicated from its more than 50 million downloads on the Play Store. It’s clean, reliable, and integrates Google’s very latest search features and information cards. And while you can access these cards from the Google app or a search widget, it’s generally not as accessible as the simple right swipe on the Now Launcher.
Killing off Google Launcher doesn’t mean the company will never announce another launcher, but right now there aren’t any indications that Google would do as such.
Android users may no longer have a stock launcher option if their phone doesn’t come pre-installed with it. And it’s not all bad news – if you already have the Now Launcher installed, Google will continue to provide updates via the Google Search app – it’s just the launcher portion itself that won’t be updated.