Nova Launcher gets acquired by analytics company, will things change?

If you are on Android and have experimented with third-party launchers, chances are that you have come across Nova Launcher. It is a name synonymous with third-party launchers and is by far one of the most popular Android launchers and has been for several years now.

Just recently, the developers ushered in the Nova Launcher 8.0 beta, featuring a revamped settings menu and Material You dynamic theming, a testament to how the developers’ passion for their product has kept Nova Launcher in discussions for the best launcher on Android.

New developments however show that there might be some changes to how the company operates moving forward.

In a press release on its website, Nova Launcher shared that it had been acquired by Branch, which is a data analytics firm that has helped thousands of companies since its inception in 2014.

Branch’s tech has been integrated into over 100,000 apps since 2014, including those from companies like Adobe, BuzzFeed, and Yelp.

The new owners promise they will not interfere in how Nova Launcher has been operating for years now. This has been backed up to some extent now, with Nova Launcher creator Kevin Barry and Nova Launcher Community Manager Cliff Wade being incorporated as part of the new team moving forwards.

Barry compares Branch needing Nova Launcher to Google needing its Pixel devices but also reiterates that the original team still remains in control, steering development efforts for Nova Launcher.

The Nova Launcher creator says that Branch will not turn the launcher into another generic third-party launcher with subscription-style paywalls, intrusive tracking and advertisements.

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He says that the current monetization style will largely remain the same. Nova Launcher Prime has always been a one-time purchase that unlocks all the advanced features. Barry emphasizes that the new features acquired from Branch will be opt-in and totally optional.

Tech-savvy users who are probably the majority when it comes to users of third-party launchers will obviously feel concerned about Nova Launcher being acquired by an analytics company. This mistrust is compounded given the level of access and system privileges a launcher gets.

Branch’s interest is already noted as using Nova to provide “research, development, expertise, and feedback”. They say that you will still be able to opt-out of contributing to statistics.

After acquisitions, companies are always on record saying they will continue to work as before, only to take a different turn soon after, driving away their core users who made them what they are. Whether this will happen to Nova Launcher is a matter of waiting and seeing, starting with Nova 8.0.2.

The good thing is that in the third-party launcher space, numerous alternatives exist should Nova Launcher incorporate ideas that you might not buy into. For now, we can only give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that the added funds that come with an acquisition are used to take the launcher to newer heights and improve the users’ experiences.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at criskariuki@gmail.com Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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