The third Android N developer preview was showcased yesterday at Google I/O, and unsurprisingly, Google took this opportunity to discuss the future of Android OS and some of the new features we can expect from the next OS version. Among the various additions initially planned to be part of Android N was Launcher Shortcuts, but as it turns out Google has decided to postpone the inclusion of Launcher Shortcuts to a future Android release, and thus it won’t be included in the final version of Android N.
Recent rumors speculated that Launcher Shortcuts will not be a part of Android N indefinitely and that the feature will be removed before the operating system will be ready for prime time. These rumors have now been confirmed in a new series of developer release notes for Android N, revealing that the Launcher Shortcuts feature has been put aside for a future release of Android (beyond Android N). Google also confirmed that the current Launcher Shortcuts APIs available in the beta build will be removed starting in the next Android N developer preview build. Of course, until the fourth preview is released, developers will continue to have access to Launcher Shortcuts APIs in Preview 3 and will be able to tinker with the feature if they choose to do so, for the sake of experimentation if not for more practical matters.
As for what Launcher Shortcuts were meant to be, the feature was originally designed to introduce new ways to interact with shortcuts on the home screen. The Launcher Shortcuts APIs would allow developers to create new types of home screen shortcuts called a Dynamic or Pinned Shortcuts, and in a nutshell, Launcher Shortcuts would offer functionality similar to Apple’s 3D Touch. However, one of the main differences between the two was that Launcher Shortcuts would be a more open feature, making each 3rd party developer and OEM responsible for supporting Launcher Shortcuts in their own vision. However, since Launcher Shortcuts will not be part of the first consumer version of Android N, it’s likely that the feature will change by the time it will be ready for a public release. In other words, some existing Launcher Shortcuts functionalities may be changed or removed with the passage of time, and new features could be added as well.