End of an Era: Google Now Launcher will soon be discontinued
There can only be one.
One of the primary draws to Android is the plethora of customization options available through launchers. Launchers are apps that modify the look and operation of the home screen. Google currently offers two launchers, Google Now and the Pixel Launcher. While the latter is reserved for Google’s flagship Pixel and Pixel XL, the Google Now Launcher's (GNL) simple layout and useful addition of Google Now Cards has made it an extremely popular option among users.
Unfortunately for fans of the launcher, Google doesn’t look like it’s incorporating GNL into the company’s future. Android Police received a tip from someone familiar with the issue, Google will phase GNL out of the GMS package for Android OEMs. Essentially, that means that devices loaded with GNL won’t be supported or approved by Google. The phase-out is scheduled to take place by March 1. GNL will also disappear from the Google Play Store at some point in Q1 2017, which ends March 31st.
Current GNL users will still receive minor updates, but the launcher shouldn’t see any major improvements or changes as Google won’t support it anymore. We’ll have to wait and see if GNL will be replaced by the Pixel Launcher or another new launcher. For now, Android users that crave customization may want to start testing other launchers for their phones.