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Everyone's favorite Android launcher just got acquired by an analytics company

Try not to get too upset, but it certainly could mean some big changes are on the way.
By
July 19, 2022
Nova Launcher look and feel settings
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Nova and Branch have now joined together with the latter acquiring the former.
  • Branch is an analytics company that mostly wants to use Nova as a platform.
  • Kevin Barry — the creator and developer of the launcher — will still be in charge.

In the world of Android launchers, few can compare with Nova. The fact that it’s free has helped with its popularity over the years, although there is a one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock its premium features.

Now, Nova and Branch are joining forces with the latter acquiring the former. Branch is primarily an analytics company and is interested in using Nova as a kind of testing platform. In a blog post, lead developer and Nova creator Kevin Barry went into all sorts of detail related to the change.

Before you get nervous, don’t worry: Barry is still in charge of Nova’s development. In fact, Barry seems quite confident that Nova and Branch will be able to make the launcher even better.

See also: Most of you use your phone’s default launcher

Nova and Branch: Why?

According to Barry, Branch wants Nova to engage its huge set of users in testing scenarios. Essentially, Branch can’t conduct testing for its analytics without a significant userset. Meanwhile, Nova can’t get the analytics it would need to judge how to best treat its own users. In that sense, the two companies are a great match.

Barry is adamant that Nova itself will not change much from this acquisition. There are no plans to change its monetization strategy, for example. Barry says, “While Nova’s monetization ability played a role in the acquisition deal and Nova Launcher Prime won’t be going away, monetization of Nova Launcher is not something Branch is interested in changing.” Reading between the lines, that means you likely won’t see ads in the free version of Nova — at least for now. We reached out to Nova directly, and it confirmed that “the Nova model will remain as it is today and there is no intention to add ads to Nova Launcher.”

Most of the changes with this acquisition will be in the background.

What does this mean for you if you use Nova? The biggest changes would likely be more features landing in less-polished forms. This would mean more experimental features rolling out earlier for users to check out and push data to Nova and Branch. It would also mean more A/B testing, which is when certain users get new features and others don’t or get slightly different versions of those features. Barry says this is something he has mostly avoided in the past.

For a more in-depth analysis of the acquisition, check out Barry’s blog post.