Google will be removing their vaunted Google Now Launcher from the Play Store in the next few weeks, if an email being sent to Google Mobile Services (GMS) partners is correct.
The email which was leaked to Android Police tells GMS partners that a new API that allows for them to insert the Google Now panel – which is now Google Feed – into any launcher of their choosing, including their own. The list of partners using the Google Now launcher on their shipped devices was fairly small – Lenovo with their Moto phones for one – but any that do want to use it, can grab the required Launcher3 files directly from the Android Open Source Project.
The email advises that no new devices will be certified for shipping if they use the older launcher from March 1st. It will also be removed from the Google Play Store, though updates will effectively be available through Google Play Services via the Google App.
It appears that Google is going full Pixel from here on out, with the Pixel Launcher now becoming the defacto standard, though technically you have to have a Pixel device to download that launcher from Google Play. The Google Now Launcher won’t disappear from your device when Google unpublishes it, it will simply not be there to install for new users.
If you’ve been a fan of the launcher, but haven’t been using it, time to get it on your device just in case you do want it down the track.