Nova Launcher and Sesame Search have been acquired by Branch, an analytics company

Jul 19, 2022
Updated • Jul 20, 2022

The popular home screen app for Android devices, Nova Launcher has been acquired by Branch Metrics, a company that specializes in analytics. Sesame Shortcuts, which supported integration with the launcher app, has also been acquired.

Nova Launcher home screen app

While this may be good for funding the development of both apps, there could be some downsides to it.

I've been using Nova Launcher for close to 10 years, though my Google Play Store receipt for the Prime version is from 2015. It's the first app I install after a flashing a new ROM, or getting a new phone. When I bought the Redmi Note 10 Pro last year, I disliked the gestures in MIUI and found that Nova Launcher's own gestures were unusable because of limitations in Android 9+. But, I knew that Nova Launcher supported gestures by using some workarounds on Pixel devices, so I flashed a Pixel Experience ROM on my phone, to get the home screen app working on my mobile.

Nova Launcher and Sesame Search have been acquired by Branch

I think I have said enough, I'm clearly a fan of the app. But, I have to put my bias aside, and ask what would an analytics company want with the app? TeslaCoil Software has promised that the core user experience including the user's privacy will remain the same, and any changes made to the app will be optional. You can't expect a company  to just acquire an app's rights, and let it continue in its existing state, would you? What's the point of it, if they don't get anything out of it?

Nova Launcher and Sesame Search have been acquired by Branch, an analytics company

The Play Store listing for Nova Launcher says that it has had over 50 million downloads. Even if just 10% of those users are actively using it, I think it's safe to say that Nova Launcher boasts a very large user base. That means, Branch, could potentially benefit from this as well, right? This is virtually a gold mine for telemetry.

An announcement made on Nova's website sheds some more light about the acquisition.

What does Branch do?

Branch has a massive database with over 300 billion deep links in apps, and provides a platform for developers to manage and measure these links into their apps. Here's an example (quoted by Nova): A link in an email or social media that a user interacts with and opens in another app is likely a Branch link.

The future of Nova Launcher

The company wants to improve the mobile app discovery and navigation experience, and sees potential in Nova and Sesame. And as for changes that users can expect, Nova Launcher will be introducing new features on an A/B testing basis, to analyze which design users prefer. Nova 8 will offer on-device shortcuts, and contact search powered by branch, the data for searching and indexing is saved on the device and does not leave it.

Nova launcher 8.0

Kevin Barry, the creator of Nova Launcher, and Cliff Wade, the Community Manager for the app, along with Steve Blackwell and Phil Wall of Sesame Search, have been hired by Branch. They will continue to lead the development of Nova Launcher, so that's a positive sign.

Nova Launcher will have other Branch-inspired features, the usage of which will be measured via analytics. It will have an opt-out option, i.e., the telemetry will be enabled by default. Based on the developer's words, Nova Launcher will remain as a premium app with a one-time payment to unlock the Pro version. The fact that they say nothing is changing in terms of privacy likely means there will be no ads in the app.

If you want to backup the app, the current version is Nova Launcher 7.0.57. A beta version of Nova 8 was released a few days ago, but I haven't tried it yet as I don't have a spare device to test it. I'm sure that users who don't like this bit of news will want to look for alternatives to Nova Launcher. There are a few good ones available such as KISS Launcher, or one of the forks of Lawnchair Launcher like Neo Launcher (formerly Omega Launcher).

Note: One of the developers of Lawnchair Launcher walked away from the app today, after claiming that another member of the team had been adding proprietary code from a different app to the open source app, without disclosing it. A message that was posted on Lawnchair's Twitter account says that it is not stolen code, but just reverse engineered code from the Pixel Launcher (made by Google.) Make of that what you will, but it surely hasn't been a good day for launchers.

Only time will tell if Nova Launcher remains as good as it is.

What are your thoughts about the acquisition? Will you stick to Nova Launcher or jump ship to a different one?

Nova Launcher and Sesame Search have been acquired by Branch
Article Name
Nova Launcher and Sesame Search have been acquired by Branch
Branch Metrics Inc. has acquired the popular Android home screen app, Nova Launcher along with Sesame Search.
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  1. bruh said on August 18, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    Uhh, this has already been possible – I am not sure how but remember my brother telling me about it. I’m not a whatsapp user so not sure of the specifics, but something about sending the image as a file and somehow bypassing the default compression settings that are applied to inbound photos.

    He has also used this to share movies to whatsapp groups, and files 1Gb+.

    Like I said, I never used whatsapp, but I know 100% this isn’t a “brand new feature”, my brother literally showed me him doing it, like… 5 months ago?

  2. 💥 said on August 18, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    Martin, what happened to those: 12 Comments ( Is there a specific justifiable reason why they were deleted?

    Hmm, it looks like the gHacks website database is faulty, and not populating threads with their relevant cosponsoring posts.

  3. 45 RPM said on August 19, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    The page on ghacks this is on represents the best of why it has become so worthless, fill of click-bait junk that it’s about to be deleted from my ‘daily reads’.

    It’s really like “Press Release as re-written by some d*ck for clicks…poorly.” And the subjects are laughable. Can’t wait for “How to search for files on Windows”.

    1. owl said on August 20, 2023 at 12:51 am

      > The page on ghacks this is on represents the best of why it has become so worthless, fill of click-bait junk…

      Sadly, I have to agree.

      Only Martin and Ashwin are worth subscribing to.
      Especially Emre Çitak and Shaun are the worst ones.

      If intended “Clickbait”, it would mark the end of Ghacks Technology News.
      Ghacks doesn’t need crappy clickbaits. Clearly separate articles from newer authors (perhaps AIs and external sales person or external advertising man) as just “Advertisements”!

      We, the subscribers of Ghacks, urge Martin to make a decision.

  4. chessandonions said on August 20, 2023 at 12:40 am

    because nevermore wants to “monetize” on every aspect of human life…

  5. Frank Rizzo said on August 20, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    “Threads” is like the Walmart of Social Media.

  6. Ashray said on August 21, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    How hard can it be to clone a twitter version of that as well? They’re slow.

  7. Paul(us) said on August 21, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    Yes, why not mention how large the HD files can be?
    Why, not mention what version of WhatsApp is needed?
    These omissions make the article feel so bare. If not complete.

    1. Paul(us) said on August 21, 2023 at 5:18 pm

      Sorry posted on the wrong page.

  8. Marc said on August 21, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    such a long article for such a simple matter. Worthless article ! waste of time

  9. plusminus_ said on August 21, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    I already do this by attaching them via the ‘Document’ option.

  10. John G. said on August 21, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    I don’t know what’s going on here at Ghacks but it’s obvious that something is broken, comments are being mixed whatever the article, I am unable to find some of my later posts neither. :S

  11. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Quoting the article,
    “As users gain popularity, the value of their tokens may increase, allowing investors to reap rewards.”

    Besides, beyond the thrill and privacy risks or not, the point is to know how you gain popularity, be it on social sites as everywhere in life. Is it by being authentic, by remaining faithful to ourselves or is it to have this particular skill which is to understand what a majority likes, just like politicians, those who’d deny to the maximum extent compatible with their ideological partnership, in order to grab as many of the voters they can?

    I see the very concept of this as unhealthy, propagating what is already an increasing flaw : the quest for fame. I won’t be the only one to count himself out, definitely.

    1. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2023 at 2:34 pm

      @John G. is right : my comment was posted on [] and it appears there but as well here at []

      This has been lasting for several days. Fix it or at least provide some explanations if you don’t mind.

  12. Tom said on August 24, 2023 at 11:53 am

    > Google Chrome is following in Safari’s footsteps by introducing a new feature that allows users to move the Chrome address bar to the bottom of the screen, enhancing user accessibility and interaction.

    Firefox did this long before Safari.

  13. Mavoy said on September 16, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Basically they’ll do anything except fair royalties.

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