Ever since its release, Android has always been more focused on customization and themes. But this capability of the software offering went out of control when OEMs started slapping custom skins atop the current theme. Thus, Google decided to show them the norm for creating a minimal-looking themed experience with the release of Now launcher — the stock launcher for Android devices.

But after two long years, the technology giant is now planning to take a surprising (but acceptable) route. In an internal memo sent to OEMs is now in the hands of Android Police and they report that Google has decided to discontinue support for the Now launcher. Our beloved app is said to be removed from the Play Store on March 1.

This move from Google comes on the heels of the Search Launcher Services library for OEMs becoming available. This API had been under testing for quite some time now. The phone manufacturers, or GMS partners, who’ve been relying on the vanilla Now launcher experience for their devices can still continue to provide those features using this API. The existing device can, however, continue using Now launcher that’ll receive search app updates regularly.

Further, Google also adds that those who want the search and card feed, it can be accessed through the ‘Search app’ on the Play Store. But, it wouldn’t be as seamless as swiping right from the home screen to access the informational cards. Some OEM manufacturers, like Motorola, had baked this feature right into their Android software and it would be easier for them to make the API switch.

The launcher will, however, no longer be made available to the general populace in the coming weeks. This development might also come as a shocker to the pupil (>50 million) who’ve been using the Google Now launcher on the daily. This move from the company is also attributed to the rise of new features and thematic changes in the Pixel launcher, which are currently exclusive Pixel devices. But, Google is planning to let loose and provide OEMs access to their exclusive features — even the Google Assistant.

The Now launcher was launched along with Nexus lineup back in 2014, but it eventually made its way to the Play Store to provide a minimal, clean, and easy-to-the-eyes experience to users. There is currently no update on whether the Pixel launcher will be launched for all Android phones on the Play Store. Google might also be mulling this decision and we’ll now have to wait for an update on the same. We’ve contacted Google for an update on this development.

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