Nova Launcher: preinstalled

It’s amazing how much Nova Launcher has grown since I emailed the first com.teslacoilsw.launcher_1.apk to a friend almost 6 years ago. It didn’t even have a name back then. This year has already been an exciting year for Nova Launcher, adding Google Now and crossing 50 million downloads. Today Nova crosses another threshold, by shipping preinstalled as the default launcher on a phone.

Earlier today Razer announced their entry into the smart phone market with the Razer Phone and they’re shipping it with Nova Launcher Prime. When Razer first approached me I was cautiously interested, but mostly cautious. The big questions in my mind were what if they wanted major changes, changes Nova fans would object to, and how would updates be handled. Luckily these were non-issues.

Nova Launcher on Razer has official Google Now integration. Since Nova Launcher is a preinstalled system app the normal restrictions and workarounds are not required. It was one of the first things Razer asked for and one I was most eager to implement. Before discovering the workaround to bring Google Now to Nova for anyone willing to sideload the Companion, I expected this to be the first time Nova Launcher had Google Now. I’m glad to have the workaround for everyone else, but also glad to not need it on Razer Phone.

Razer Phone is shipping with Nova Launcher 5.4.8-razer which is essentially the latest stable version of Nova (5.4), and has the normal Nova Launcher package name, but with some additional bug fixes and handling Razer specific bits such as the default desktop layout. Nova 5.5-betas already include these changes and going forward will be compatible with normal Nova Launcher updates on the Play Store. Razer Phone includes an overlay theme for Nova Launcher to better integrate it into their system look. A slight caveat here is that currently the Nova 5.5-betas will not install on the Razer Phone. This is done to handle final testing and is temporary.

The Razer Phone is the only device on my desk, out of several dozen, running the “stock” launcher, but that’s not the only reason I’ve been enjoying it. It’s great hardware and software.

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