Nova Launcher 6.1 Puts A Dark Twist On Google Now

App developer TeslaCoil Software has now released a new update to its popular Nova Launcher, enabling the Google Discover -- previously Google Now -- page to enter into a dark mode and providing more options for notifications, among other things. The update takes the version number to 6.1 and is currently in beta only but should become available more widely in the near future.

For those that utilize or favor dark mode, the ability to swap out the stark white of Google Discover to better match a layout or theme will most likely be the most exciting change. Enabling the panel or page itself does require a secondary app download outside of the Google Play store due to policy changes enacted by Google. But that shouldn't be too big a caveat for those who use the feature and don't have a phone that supports it out-of-the-box.

Once the Nova Google Companion is installed navigating to the Nova Settings application and then to the Integrations section should reveal an option to access deeper settings for the app. The app itself enables a Google Discover side-bar but its worth noting that users with the "Infinite Scroll" option enabled with only be able to access the side-bar via an edge-swipe action.

Within the Nova Google Companion app's Nova Launcher settings, users will be able to choose from three self-explanatory options. Those are Light, Dark, and Follow (Nova's) Night mode.

Another 'new' feature that's no longer allowed by Google

Nova Launcher has been among the most popular Android launcher replacement apps for a very long time but that hasn't stopped Google's latest policies from interrupting things. In this case, the on-icon badge system Nova has had in place is no longer allowed on the Google Play Store due to the requirement that it accesses certain system permissions for its core functionality.

That app, TeslaCoil Software's TeslaUnread, has undergone a number of changes over the years, starting out as a finicky and unreliable number count for unread notifications and evolving into something more stable. Eventually, that was replaced by Google's own notification number and then a dot system. Eventually, the developers added deeper integration with the Nova Launcher itself in the form of dynamic badges that change from app to app and standard Google-inspired dots.

With TeslaUnread being forced from the Play Store -- only available through the TeslaCoil Software link below -- TeslaCoil Software needed a new solution. Enter Numeric Dots, a dot-based numbering badge that can be selected from the Settings menu under the "Notifications" subheading.

TeslaUnread still works for those who prefer that feature but Numeric Dots are a much more consistent and offer a readout similar to Google's dots but with a number representing unread notifications. Using them stacks atop previous Nova changes that enabled a short summary of the notification's content in the long-press shortcuts for an app.

Other features in the latest Beta for the app

Aside from the introduction of Numeric Dots and a dark mode for the Google Discover page, TeslaCoil Software has also made a number of other user-friendly changes. The first of those is the addition of a short-lived and unintrusive pop-up to the bottom of the page when a user removes an item from one of their home screens. That features an undo button to revert whatever that change might have been -- useful for double checking the look and feel of a change or undoing an accidental removal.

The second alteration enables a transparent notification bar, allowing the wallpaper to show through, even on devices with notches.

Finally, the developers have incorporated an number of optimizations and bug fixes in the latest update, to ensure the apps work well together and there as many issues across the wide array of available Android handsets. So everything should run a bit smoother following the update.

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About the Author
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Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]