Nova Launcher, the most popular third-party launcher on Android, keeps getting better with time by adopting features similar to Google's Pixel Launcher and improving on them in meaningful ways. In version 6.1 beta of Nova, which was just released, two changes further prove this: dark mode for the Discover feed and numeric Oreo-like notification dots.

By now, you probably know that Nova has implemented the Google Discover feed (previously known as "Google Now") with a swipe from the left side of the screen. It requires the separate Nova Google Companion app (also available on APK Mirror), which has to be sideloaded. However, until now, Nova's feed didn't support the dark mode like the Pixel Launcher one does. With beta 6.1, the Discover panel's theme can be customized to always light, always dark, or to follow Nova's own night mode theme.

Next up is a change in the way Nova handles notification badges. Previously, the launcher required the separate TeslaUnread app to gather notifications, but it didn't offer a consistent experience as the badge didn't refresh when notifications were swiped away. It also relied on the SMS and CALL_LOG permissions, which are now being tightly controlled by Google. Nova had tried to remedy that by introducing its own Dynamic Badges, but has recently started adopting Android 8.0 Oreo's dot notifications. You can still use the older methods (and download TeslaUnread here or from APK Mirror when it gets removed from the Play Store on March 9), but you're better off switching to either Dots or Numeric Dots notifications. Pick the one that works for you, choose its size and placement, and then enable/disable the notification preview when pressing on an icon with a badge.

It all works as expected, and is more consistent than the TeslaUnread approach. However, as far as I can tell, there's nothing really different between the older Dynamic Badges and the new Numeric Dots, save for a few more theming options in the latter.

If you want to give Nova Launcher 6.1 beta a try, you can get it by joining the official beta program on the Play Store or by grabbing the file directly from APK Mirror.

Nova Launcher
Nova Launcher
Developer: TeslaCoil Software
Price: Free