It appears to be happening, but maybe not in the way we might have expected. Android Police showed off what it says are leaks of a new Nexus Launcher. It kills off the omnipresent Google search bar in favor of a small button. Tap it to get Google search, slide it out to go to Google Now.
The home screen now has a persistent date widget, in case you tend to forget what day it is. To get to the app drawer, the report says you slide up anywhere on the bottom app dock to reveal the rest of your applications. The translucence is very iOS-like as you pull up and reveal the drawer.
Android Police also found a number of new On Tap options that could make Google’s predictive service more useful, such as navigating home, setting an alarm, or finding an ATM.
This is likely still a work in progress, so the final build could look a bit different and will probably be shown off when Google unveils its 2016 Nexus phones. It’s also unclear if this will mean the Google Now Launcher is to be no more, and if this possible replacement would be available for non-Nexus devices.
Why this matters: The new launcher seems to target a few goals. One is to nudge you more into Google Now by transforming the search bar into a slide-out tab inside of Google Now. And if Now on Tap gets more features, Google hopes you’ll take advantage of the predictive service even more. With Android Nougat and new phones around the corner, we ought to find out rather soon.