The 5.1 beta build of Nova Launcher adds a number of new features to the popular Android launcher, including Dynamic Badges. Just like the name suggests, the new functionality was designed as an extension of badge counters that developers introduced last year. As unread counts on particular badges often don't reveal enough and not all apps count items in an identical manner, developers of Nova Launcher decided to provide users with an option of seeing images in icon badges. For example, instead of a simple number next to an app icon that's notifying you there's an unread Hangouts message, you can see a badge depicting the profile picture of the contact who sent you the message. The new feature seemingly works as intended despite still being in beta and should ennoble the user experience of people who often rely on badge counters.
The latest beta build of Nova Launcher started rolling out on Thursday and should already be available to all beta testers of the app regardless of where they're located. Naturally, there are some restrictions to the newly added feature of Nova Launcher seeing how it isn't as useful in scenarios in which you have a larger number of unread messages or pending items, though it's still more informative than the regular counter. Overall, being able to glance at the album art of whatever is currently playing on Google Play Music or seeing the profile picture of someone who just sent you an email is certainly a useful feature to have, especially considering it's entirely optional. Dynamic Badges also work with folders as they won't just show you the number of stored apps and will instead display the icons of all apps with notifications.
If you've installed the 5.1 beta build of Nova Launcher, you can activate Dynamic Badges by opening the app's Settings, heading to the "Notification Badges" section, and tapping the "Badge Type" option where' you'll be able to switch between regular counters and this new functionality. There's still no word on when Dynamic Badges might make their way to the stable build of the app, but more information on the matter will hopefully be available soon.