Nova launcher 8.0.2 beta introduces powerful Branch search function
Earlier this week, one of the oldest and best Android launchers – Nova Launcher – was acquired by analytics company Branch. Nova creator Kevin Barry’s announcement tried to pacify users and assure them that the original team remains in charge of development efforts. While the community is still wondering what to make of the deal, Nova Launcher’s latest beta update is already here, packing a few Branch-related features.
When Barry announced that Nova and Sesame Search had been taken over by Branch, he mentioned that the upcoming Nova 8.0.2 beta would be the first to include features powered by technology from its new parent company. Specifically, Nova Search would be the first to be enhanced with Branch-powered processing on the device. It provides “microresults” so you can message someone in an app of your choice by simply searching for their name.
Nova’s 8.0.2 beta appears to have renamed the feature to “Branch Finder for Shortcuts and Contacts”, with a dedicated section in the settings menu. The application change log shows that branch search uses an offline library identified as “io.branch.search”. He clarifies that the library does not access the internet and that Branch’s deep link library, identifiable as “io.branch.sdk.android”, is separate.
In the initial announcement, Barry promised that most of Branch’s features would be opt-in, and users can enable them if they wish. So far, he’s kept his word: the branch search option is disabled by default when you install the latest beta.
Branch search results seem more comprehensive than those provided by Sesame Search when integrated with Nova. As you can see in the screenshots below, Branch combines all contact options, such as phone, WhatsApp and SMS for each contact, while the Sesame-enabled Nova search shows separate results for WhatsApp . Interestingly, branch search doesn’t seem to have access to some apps — the options for messaging people on Slack are shown separately.
Besides the search function, the latest beta update fixes minor issues with widget resizing and text in the Edit dialog and app drawer. Some Redditors theorize that the widget resizing bug was introduced intentionally to force users to update. We have no proof of this, but Nova integrated Branch’s components into the app with surprising agility. Meanwhile, some power users and members of the Android enthusiast community seem ready to jump ship in favor of other comparable launchers that don’t have a (potentially) data-intensive analytics company at the helm.
If you want to try the new branch search feature, you can download the Nova 8.0.2 beta from APKMirror or the Nova website.