Google is soon to remove its Google Now launcher from its online store, according to AndroidPolice.
The app, long a mainstay of Android handsets, helps users bypass bloatware to search for their favourite apps and has been downloaded at least 50 million times. But the tech giant is reportedly removing the Now launcher from the Play store in the coming months.
In an email to partnering phone makers leaked to the publication, Google’s Android Team said it is discontinuing the Now launcher, saying the Search Launcher Services library for OEMs, which is now production ready for Android 7 and 7.1, “is a more scalable solution”.
It means OEMs can instead use the Search Launcher Services app, which integrates the Search Launcher Services library with an Android Open Source Project Launcher3 programme.
Google is expected to kill Google Now Launcher by 1 March from the Play store, and will stop making it available in its Google Mobile Services package to OEMs from that date too.
The tech giant won’t approve new devices using the Now launcher after this date, but has committed to allowing devices to continue shipping phones with the Now launcher if they were approved before 1 March.
However, the letter adds: “These devices do not have to replace the Google Now Launcher with something else after they’ve updated to [sic] newer version of the Android platform.” This likely means Android users will have to put up with some bloatware from now on.
There was no mention of whether Google’s Pixel Launcher, which is the Now equivalent for the Pixel range, would be opened up to other Android phones.