The Google Now Launcher’s Demise is… Weird

Google Now Launcher

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.

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No, Google Now Launcher Won’t Be Uninstalled On Your Phone

Google Now Launcher

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.

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Google Messenger Update Brings Unread Messages Count

Google’s SMS & MMS app, Google Messenger, has had a nice update this week that brings a lot of visual tweaks as well as some new features.  The new build is version 2.0 and it is rolling out now in the Google Play Store.  The most immediate thing you will notice is the new round icon for the app, fitting in nicely with the look of the Google Pixel launcher on the Pixel devices.  That new icon also can now show unread message counts, ala iOS, which is something that Android frankly has needed for a long time.  But get this:  It doesn’t work on the new Pixel Launcher or the Google Now Launcher.

Insert head scratching here.

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