What is Nova Launcher?
I’m an ardent fan of Nova Launcher. For those of you who don’t know what that is, Nova Launcher is a replacement for the stock launcher you find in your Android device. I’ve used my fair share of Android devices and Nova Launcher has been installed in each and every one of them. In fact, I even purchased Nova Launcher Prime because I wanted to use the full set of features such as gesture support and the enhanced notifications for apps.
One thing that Nova Launcher lacked was Google Now (now called Google Feed) integration. This was what you got when you installed Google Launcher. By simply swiping to the right, you had access to Google Now which gave you information such as the weather, traffic updates, news about your favorite topics, upcoming events and reminders etc.
So you see the problem I faced. While Nova Launcher had a plethora of customizable features such as applying custom icon packs and the ability to hide certain app icons, it lacked support for Google Feed. Whereas with the Google Launcher and the Pixel Launcher (which was available for Android 7.0 Nougat devices) I had the ability to swipe right for Google Feed but the launcher lacked customizability.
It was an eternal struggle, and as a workaround, I actually assigned a gesture to launch the Google App. It wasn’t the same as the Google Launcher but it was something. Fast forward to today when I checked the Play Store and I found an update for Nova Launcher. This piqued my interest and I updated the app only to find that it was a beta app update and offered “bug fixes and performance improvements”. Regardless of that, I updated the app to see if there were any changes. The result: Nothing.
Meet the Nova Google Companion App
While browsing the Google app for news, I came across something quite interesting. The latest beta version of Nova Launcher now supported Google Feed. The only catch was that it required a separate companion app to get the feature to work. Called Nova Google Companion, the app isn’t available on the Google Play Store. This is due to the fact that Google Feed requires that any app that integrates support for it has to be debuggable. The problem here is that debuggable apps can’t be published on the Google Play Store due to security reasons. So Nova Google Companion has to be downloaded from a third party source.
For now, the safest third party app repository or source to download Nova Google Companion is APKMirror. The app allows Google Feed to be activated if you’re running the latest beta version of Nova Launcher, which I was. I held my breath, clicked the “Install” button and the proceeded to launch the app. The result? I now have Google Feed when I swipe right on Nova Launcher, all thanks to Nova Google Companion. Oh Happy Day indeed!
There are some bugs with Nova Google Companion though. Google Feed sometimes has difficulty in detecting the companion app. This will most probably be addressed in future version and support will improve. If you have signed up as a beta tester for Nova Launcher, then the latest update which is 5.3-beta1 June 14 will be required in order to get Google Feed to work with it.
Do you use Nova Launcher? Love it? Hate it? Leave a comment below.