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This Google Maps Video Shows Android Without an App Drawer and People are Freaking Out (Updated)

android no app drawer

UPDATE 2/29: Google reached out to confirm to us our initial thoughts, that this Google Maps video is an inaccurate (read: bad mock-up as we suggested below) version of their UI and that this is not a hint or preview of what’s to come, as has been rumored over the previous couple of weeks.

Yesterday, Google posted a tweet through the Google Maps Twitter account that has Android enthusiasts going a big nuts, all because the video included shows a Nexus 6P without an app drawer. Seriously, lots of people are freaking out because this phone doesn’t have an app drawer. I don’t know that I’m ready to freak out just yet without knowing the full story, but it is worth talking about.

First of all, here is the tweet that’s to blame for this weekend’s fun. 

If you blink during the first 2 seconds, you’ll miss it. See it? If not, just look at the image at the top of this post.

Why are people making a big deal of this? For a couple of reasons. First, it has been rumored off and on for a couple of months that the next version of Android may not have an app drawer. Assuming this video isn’t just a bad mock-up that wasn’t meant to confuse the world, yet is, then we could be looking into the future here.

Second, Android has had an app drawer since day one, so potentially killing it off in favor of Apple’s really shitty app jukebox approach where all of your installed apps get spammed onto home screens, is a big deal. It would be terrible, if I’m being honest. The app drawer has always provided a form of organization that was used to easily jump into specific apps. In fact, the app drawer that arrived around the time of Marshmallow, that included recently used apps at the top, search, vertical scrolling, and quick scrolling between letters is an awesome implementation of the app drawer.

Is that what we’re seeing here, a disappearance of the app drawer? Since we get to view a screen on a phone without an app drawer icon for all of 2 seconds, we really have no idea what the full story is here. But for fun, let’s say that this isn’t just a bad Google mock-up and is pointing to what’s to come. What we are seeing is the Google Now Launcher up and running with only icons in the home screen’s dock for phone, contacts, and camera. If you have used the GNL, you know that the app drawer icon can’t be moved or removed – it’s locked to the dock at all times.

Does that mean that an update is coming to the GNL and Android that will leave us Apple’s incredibly shitty app jukebox approach? We don’t know. If Google is killing the app drawer as we know it, hopefully, they have something else in store that will help you quickly get to the apps you need without just scrolling through pages of apps on your home screen or by forcing you into foldering it all up. Maybe the app experience will become contextual or based on favorites or most used or recently used. Maybe there will be a swipe-out panel of some sort.

There better be something, dammit. We are not iOS users.

google apps

It’s also worth noting that this home screen setup is showing a Google app icon with the word “Search” underneath it. I don’t know about your phone, but mine sure doesn’t say “Search” under the Google app, it says “Google.”

Consider the idea that this maybe isn’t pointing towards Android N at all and is just a preview of an update to the Google Now Launcher and Google app.

What do you think?

  • Armaan Modi


  • McStagger

    let’s just hope it uses a gesture like Nova Launcher.

  • James_75

    App Drawer Lives Matter

  • trevorsalienarms

    First world problems, amirite?

  • Hanson Eze

    Woow 😎 😎

    Let’s hope for a better devices for that N

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  • shamatuu

    Thank God . no app drawer is bad for Android.

  • Murphy’s Magnet

    Well, at least nobody freaked out over nothing.

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Thank you!

  • First Google is said to be ditching the app drawer. What’s next? Icons with the same height and width restrictions?

  • VAVA Mk2

    What if we now access the app drawer via gestures on the home screen (or from any screen) a la Blackberry OS 10?

  • Bill3

    One of the reasons I hate my iPhone so much is that it is so disorganised. The app drawer is a must. It’s like Microsoft deciding to get rid of the ‘start’ button…how did that work out?

  • Larinx

    Does anyone use the GEL? Never saw the appeal of it tbh. I’ll stick with nova.

    That being said this is an extremely dumb idea if true, more dumb then removing silent mode that they did in kit kat.

  • Nixx

    Ha, it actually took me a minute to figure out what was “Missing”. I haven’t had an app drawer icon for so long I didn’t even realize. I use a Nova App Search action on the Home button. I find it much quicker than any app drawer and I don’t get distracted by apps and games that I would normally see every time I open the drawer.

    I trust google to come up with something better than an app drawer over cloning the iOS.

  • James S Kerekes

    I am pretty sure that i came across something a few weeks ago about being able to disable the app drawer in an upcoming OS for those that would want that sort of thing. Hopefully this is the case. I don’t like much on my home screens.

  • Timesalami

    A smart move on google’s part would be to have a setting to allow users to toggle the app drawer on and off. that way users transitioning from iOS would have an easier adjustment and then once adjusted could start using the traditional android style. And yes I know I’m inviting hate by saying this. but making android more appealing to iOS users could draw in those sitting on the fence when it comes to deciding which platform to use.

  • Andrexx

    I was recently issued an iPhone 6 as a work phone, and this is one of the things I detest. Fortunately, I’m installing the bare minimum to get by, as it will *only* be used for work tasks, but if my personal phone went this direction??? No way!

    I know Nova *changes* the app drawer, but dies it actually *make* it’s own? If so, then at least there will may be a way to keep it if Google goes completely goofy in the head.

  • shanev2

    I do NOT want all those icons on my home screens! Don’t do it, Google!

  • Beamish

    The app drawer might be masquerading as that Search icon.

    Hit it, see apps, scroll up to browse. Start typing and you get results from both Apps and Google Search.

    Now they have pushed general Search onto one more function rather than context specific as in Android M – apps only.

  • Droid Ronin

    nothing a custom launcher can’t fix

  • BruinGuy

    C’mon folks, don’t freak out. The ONLY phones that use the Google launcher are Nexus phones. Anyone using a Nexus phone will know how to install a launcher. Every other manufacturer uses their own launcher and they’ll be just fine.

  • Perhaps the new version of Now Launcher will allow users to remove the app drawer icon. Since I don’t often use the app drawer, I would be favor of this approach.

  • Daeshaun

    What if they make it like android auto?

  • Steven Santinelli

    I think its fine, as LONG as you can switch between the two. If you can’t then, well that’s just stupid. 🙂 I keep my 2 screens clean of just apps that matter all the time. If I need something different, I pop into the app drawer… Perfect.

    So yeah… Give us an option, that’s fine, but don’t take it away, or Hello Nova Launcher!

  • MikeKorby

    Perhaps swiping to the second or third dot brings up the app drawer? Instead of having a dedicated button for the drawer, maybe they have the drawer function as a panel in the new launcher?

  • Clancy3434

    gesture and/or search control for app drawer? god knows i get rid of the app drawer logo on Nova Launcher and switch it to a double tap gesture. perhaps google is doing something similar.

    one would think if they were ditching the app drawer there would be a whole lot more apps on that home screen.

  • Domenic Apice

    Why is no one talking about the fact that the Google Now Home screen appears to be gone too? The dot clearly shows that we are looking at the far left homescreen on that phone, which is the usually placement of the Google Now screen. I highly doubt google is getting rid of that, so let’s all calm down and assume this is a bad render.

    • japenharox

      They could’ve removed the swipe-right action, and keep the home screen on “tap home button and swipe up” action tho

  • japenharox

    So? Unless they’re going to ditch support for third-parties launchers, it’s not the end of the world.

  • I’ll be honest, since I installed Action Launcher on my Nexus, I removed the All Apps button. All I do is swype left to get the drawer out. I really don’t miss it. As long as Google doesn’t force me to put all Apps in the screens, I’ll be fine.

  • Shadowstare

    Anybody think the app drawer is there, but its not a button. Maybe its gesture controlled like a swipe up from the bottom. I’m praying Google isn’t stupid enough to take away the app drawer for real.

  • Ryan

    As long as some sort of functionality replaces it. I dont want my widgets sharing space with icons I barely use.

  • SuperJDB

    I’ve been using Sony’s launcher concept without an app drawer and must say it is fantastic!

    Android without the app drawer is nothing like iOS: iOS has no home screen, only an app drawer.

    Android without the app drawer still has a home screen with your favourite applications and widgets; but instead of having a separate list of all your apps, all your apps are now on the home screen (on a separate page by default) and you can organize them on your home screen as you please. It’s like the app drawer is the rightmost page of your homescreen but it only has the stuff you didn’t organize.

    Google’s alphabetically sorted app drawer looks very disorganized to me, and Samsung and others have launchers that allow you to organize the app drawer pretty much like the home screen. Having only one place to organize your apps just feels very natural to me. And otherwise don’t freak out, it will probably just be an option you can enable or not… just give it a try.

    • scastro87

      So, like iOS?

  • Jaime Morris

    I’m not sure why everyone is freaking out. The app drawer is basically just a smart folder that all of your icons are shovelled into. If you don’t like having your icons on the home page, just create a folder and put it on the dock where the app drawer icon normally goes.

  • stayflyer

    the apps all over the place is design is tacky and 1 thing i hate about the iphone.

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  • Google posted a tweet through the Google Maps Twitter account that has Android enthusiasts going a big nuts, all because the video included shows a Nexus 6P without an app drawer.

  • Snowbo13

    Maybe it’s a gesture like double tap or two figure swipe up. Or a option for this to remove the app drawer button.

  • Almost everything else is emulating crApple, why not the insipid stacked apps pages?

  • duke69111

    Android getting rid of the app drawer is a horrible idea in my opinion.

  • Well, if this is a preview of Android N they are also ditching the swipe-left action for Google Now, since that screen with the icons has the first dot highlighted and we all know that the first screen with icons is always the second dot in GNL, with the first being the Google Now screen…

  • liquidamber5

    It’s one of the things that I hate most about iOS. If Android did away with it, it’d be hugely disappointing. I can only take solace in the idea that third party apps like Nova Launcher will not follow suit, and will offer app drawers as an option.

  • yeuri

    maybe you will be able to get into the app drawer from the fingerprint sensor after you have unlock the phone..

  • Sam

    I’d be happy to have Google Now moved to the notification drawer with notification integration and a pull out drawer for apps.