The popular Android launcher, Nova Launcher, has been acquired by Branch. As part of the acquisition, Kevin Barry, the creator of Nova Launcher, and Cliff Wade, the Nova Community Manager, will become employees of Branch. Barry has tried to reassure Nova Launcher users by explaining that he will remain in control of the direction and development of Nova Launcher and that his goals remain the same.
While Barry will control most aspects of the launcher, he did mention that some features powered by Branch will be added to the launcher, however, they will be optional. According to the Nova Launcher creator, Branch may not be a familiar name to consumers, but the company is a big name in app development circles. On its website, Branch says that it offers “enterprise-grade solutions designed to increase end-to-end user engagement and provide holistic measurement of marketing effectiveness across all devices, channels, and platforms.”
One of Branch’s interests is app discovery and navigation and has built a search and discovery product that is being distributed by all major Android OEMs. With Nova as part of the organization, Branch’s CEO said Nova’s community can now give feedback on new developments of Branch’s software before they're rolled out to OEMs more widely. Branch has said that it doesn’t plan to make money directly from Nova or the community, so everyone can continue using Nova unhindered.
A few things that will change with Nova launcher going forward include more frequent, but smaller updates. In the past, Barry preferred to make sure that something was definitely ready to launch. Now, he will release updates sooner and perhaps leverage A/B testing where some users get a feature and others don’t while it’s being tested. He also said that Branch will be measuring analytics of their features in Nova but based on internal discussions he has had, Branch seems respectful of users privacy and allowing Barry to do right by Nova Launcher users.