Google has alerted GMS partners of its intention to remove Google Now Launcher from the Play Store in the near future. This is the email:
From: Android Team via Android GMS Partner Announcements [mailto:android-gms-announcementsOgooglegroups.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2017 5:46 PM
To: Android GMS Partner Announcements
Subject: [android-gms-announcements] Google Search Launcher Services library replaces Google Now Launcher
Hello Android partners, Google Search Launcher Services library allows you to implement easy access to Google Now cards by swiping right on the default home screen of your own launcher. Its evaluation version for Android 7.0 and 7.1 was announced and shared at the end of last year.
Thanks to the partners who have supported the test and evaluation, we are happy to announce that the library is now good for production use Please feel free to integrate the library with your production launcher, following the supporting documents published on the GMS site. Going forward, we will provide the updated version of library with the monthly GMS bundle update.
Since the Search Launcher Services library is a more scalable solution, we’re discontinuing the Google Now Launcher over the following timeline:
• Q1 2017 – Google Now Launcher will be unpublished from Google Play. Although users would not be able to download and install the launcher from Google Play Store, Google will continue to support existing users of the Google Now Launcher by updating the Google Search app.
• March 1, 2017 – Google Now Launcher will be removed from optional GMS. New devices with Google Now Launcher on the system image will no longer be approved. However, partner devices can keep shipping Google Now Launcher if they were approved before the cut-off date. These devices do not have to replace the Google Now Launcher with something else after they’ve updated to newer version of the Android platform.
If your products relied on the Google Now Launcher and you are looking for an immediate replacement, please consider using the SearchLauncher app that is included in the GMS distribution. It integrates the Search Launcher Services library with the AOSP Launcher3, and you may use the app for your production devices. Please contact your technical account manager if you have any questions.
Thanks, The Android Team
Big deal right? The last update is from November 2015. If you are still using the Now Launcher is would suggest to move to the Google’s Pixel Launcher which should be available to devices with Android 5.0 or newer. If you do not like the Now Launcher then there is a good change you also wont like the Pixel Launcher. I am using the Nova Launcher on my devices as I offers me more customizations.