Late last week it came to light from various sources that Google is going to be removing the Google Now Launcher from the Play Store in March. The ultimate reason behind this remains a bit of a mystery with those of us who have the Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X hoping that the Pixel launcher will become the new default. But regardless, one thing that needs to be made perfectly clear: If you have the Now Launcher installed, it won’t disappear from your phone when Google removes it from the store. It just simply won’t be available for download.
All-in-all, the Now Launcher is a solid launcher option that has been around since the Nexus 5 days and became a stand alone download in 2015. It works well, gets the job done and with a swipe to the left you get all your Google Now cards. Those Now cards are the key reason I’ve kept the launcher installed. But, to be fair, those Now cards are available in the Google app itself now so you don’t necessarily have to have the launcher installed. This, likely, was part of the deciding factor for Google to kill off the launcher.
The question for some however who use it will be if it will still work after Google removes it from the Store. The answer is absolutely. Equally, it won’t be uninstalled from your phone either. The only way that could happen would be if you completely reset your phone as you won’t be able to download it from the Play Store again. You can get around that too by side-loading it from APKMirror.
For those of you who have a Nexus device like the 6P or 5X, you don’t even have to deal with that element of it. Given that it is the default launcher for
your phone, when you factory reset, you will have the launcher already.
The question at hand of course is why Google is killing off the launcher. That isn’t 100% clear. It is possible, at least for Nexus devices, that the Pixel launcher could be available in the March or April time frame but that isn’t confirmed. Equally, it is possible with many other launcher options out there, many of which are more sophisticated than Now Launcher, that Google is simply leaving it to developers to create the user experience.
The key thing though is if you have the launcher, come the day that Google does remove Google Now Launcher from the Play Store, it won’t disappear from your phone.