Late last week a change happened with Google Now Launcher, Google’s first proper attempt at a launcher for Android. It basically became incompatible with virtually every Android phone out there. The change was unannounced and it is preventing anyone from going to the Play Store and downloading the launcher.
Up until last week, you could use Google Now Launcher as your launcher on any Android phone running Android Jelly Bean 4.1 or higher. Now, when you go to the launcher’s page in the Play Store, you get a warning that the app isn’t compatible with your device.
To be fair, it is probably time for Now Launcher to go away. It has been superseded by the Pixel Launcher within Google’s devices and there are plenty of solid options when it comes to power launchers for Android users such as Action Launcher, Nova Launcher, Evie Launcher and even the Microsoft Launcher. The lack of customization of the Now Launcher and its overall dated look don’t help it either.
But the way this has happened it feels more like a mistake than a deprecation. Usually when Google kills off an app, they simply don’t update it any longer and usually let users know that support for it is going away. It is more of a natural app death: Death by lack of use. Eventually Google, like other developers, pull the plug on it and are done. But to seemingly randomly make the app incompatible with 98% of the devices out there (not sure that figure is fact, but it feels really high) is odd at best.
It feels like a code mistake somewhere that has made it incompatible. If that is the case, there will likely be an update this week to bring it back into the fold. If not, well, it has certainly been one of the weirder ways that Google has killed an app for sure.