According to a new leaked email that is reportedly being sent out to Android GMS partners, the Google Now Launcher will be removed from the Google Play Store within the next few weeks (during Q1, 2017). This will likely be of concern to anyone who has the Google Now Launcher installed on their Android device as although the launcher will continue to work, it won't be updated directly. Although the email does point out that it will receive updates through the Google Search app. Likewise, this will also have an effect on manufacturers who typically opt to ship devices with the Google Now Launcher as a pre-installed launcher. The email notes that devices shipped after March 1 with the Google Now Launcher will no longer be approved, although devices launched before the March 1 date are fine to ship with the Google Now Launcher intact. The email advises partners to make use of the Search Launcher as an immediate replacement. This will allow manufacturers to include Google Now functionality within their own launcher, if they want.
While the Google Now Launcher has been a staple on devices like the Nexus range over recent times, Google has made a sidestep away from using the Google Now Launcher very recently. When the company announced and unveiled their new Google Pixel line, this range came running on a new launcher which Google introduced as the 'Pixel Launcher'. Which did initially lead to some wondering whether the Pixel Launcher would eventually replace the Google Now Launcher. In fact, such concerns were raised even before the Pixel Launcher was officially announced - when it was still a rumored entity and going by the ‘Nexus Launcher’ name.
That said, the new information does not provide any indication or information on whether the Pixel Launcher is indeed replacing the Google Now Launcher or whether the Pixel Launcher will become available to other manufacturers to use on their Android devices as a 'Google replacement'. At present, the information only seems to be confirming the removal of direct support for Google Now Launcher as it currently stands. You can see the leaked email, courtesy of Android Police, in full, below, for a more detailed overview of the changes that are coming to the Google Now Launcher.