What a bucket of cold water. If just a week ago we were talking about Nova Launcher as a result of the launch of its next version, the news is now its acquisition by Branch, a well-known analytics firm in the mobile advertising industry. Not only that: Branch has also bought Sesame Search & Shortcuts, another powerful tool for Android that extended the functionality of Nova Launcher.
Specifically, Branch has hired the two main people in charge of Nova Launcher, taking on part of the management of the project, which will include the company’s analytics among its functions. and three quarters of same for Sesame Search & Shortcuts. In both cases it is, obviously, an economic movement that… will it be negative for the user? Without exaggeration, everything seems to indicate that it is.
For more data, and never better said, Branch is a company specialized in extracting information from the links provided by applications internally, as well as in its monetization. Branch does not serve advertising directly, but uses the interaction of users with the applications so that the developers improve them and maximize their benefits. It’s not too different from what Google does before showing an ad.
Thus, it hasn’t taken long for alarm bells to go off among those Nova Launcher users who have found out about the purchase agreement, and that is because the founder of the project himself acknowledges that things are not going to be as they were, although he concedes to Branch a respect for the privacy of the user -he was not expected to say otherwise- that it will be necessary to see if it is fulfilled or not, even though many will not give it the opportunity.
It should be noted that Nova Launcher already included telemetry, although it could be disabled and despite the fact that it is not an open source development, it was generally quite transparent and consistent with its user community. Responsible maintenance over the years, excellent customization capabilities, and a sticking to the factory Android ways, as well as being a lightweight alternative to everything it offers, did the rest to make it number one in its category. .
In fact, many people are content to use the free version of Nova Launcher, as it contains numerous customization options, while the one-time payment model ($3.99/Euro) has not been enough to ensure the sustainability of the project. Hence the news that concerns us, which raises a few questions that will only be resolved over time and that also affect Sesame Search & Shortcuts.
For example, will paying users be subject to the same tracking by Branch as those using the free version of Nova Launcher? Can telemetry be disabled? This is important, even if the app doesn’t change too much for the end user, which doesn’t seem to be the case: it wouldn’t make sense to buy the app to download it. In fact, feature-wise it could use some improvement, including improved Sesame integration with Nova Launcher.
What is known for sure is that Branch will keep Nova Launcher usage data and will use them to improve the application, but also for other less disinterested tasks, as is normal, in the case of a business like yours. It is more: they have already begun to do it. With the second beta of Nova Launcher 8, the launcher debuts “Branch’s powerful search function”, they collect in Android Police.
Nova Launcher was a bit in the doldrums in recent times for dispensing with features such as the gestures that Android 12 introduced, but it is possible that this was not even a stumble at the height of the current one, although like everything in this life, it will have to be seen. Most especially, when the final version of the launcher reach Google Play. The same goes for Sesame Search & Shortcuts, although the latter is not nearly as popular.