Google Now on Tap Discover mode-AA

If you ever wondered why you can’t set Nova Launcher to open Google Now with a swipe from the left like you can with Google’s own launcher, Kevin Barry has an explanation.

Barry, founder of TeslaCoil, the company behind the hugely popular Nova Launcher, talked about the limitations that Google currently sets on the Google Now API.

As you’d expect, Barry would love to give users the option to add a Google Now screen. After all Nova Launcher and Nova Launcher Prime are packed with customization options. Adding swipe-to-Google Now would be a no-brainer.

The problem is Google restricts the use of the Google Now API to system apps. In fact, it’s possible that even OEMs encounter some limitations in this area.

There’s only one Android manufacturer that’s currently experimenting with integrating Google Now into its proprietary launcher: that’s Sony, who recently added the feature to a beta version of its Xperia Home launcher (the feature was removed in a latter update). Barry speculates that Sony might have even licensed the functionality from Google.

But there’s always the root option, right? Not quite. Barry explained why TeslaCoil won’t give root users the option to enable swipe-to-Google Now. That would require installing Nova Launcher as a system app, which could antagonize Google and affect key functionality like the ability to receive OTA updates. Plus, the feature could stop working at any time because of changes in the Now API, be them intentional or not.

The creator of Nova Launcher is somehow optimistic that Google will eventually open up the Google Now API to third-party developers, though he cautions that the wait may take years.

Until Google lifts its restrictions, Google Now remains accessible to Nova users with a simple long press on the home key (hold and swipe before Marshmallow). You can also map Google Now to a swipe gesture, but you’ll need to have the premium version for that.