Android makers continue to write off the app drawer

HTC is the latest to bid farewell to one of Android's biggest features. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android.

HTC is the latest to bid farewell to one of Android’s biggest features. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android.

More evidence of the app drawer’s impending elimination with Android N has surfaced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Just days after LG announced its new G5, which ships without an app drawer by default, HTC has unveiled the One X9 — which follows the same path.

Over the weekend, it was reported that Google’s existing pre-release builds of Android N do not have the app drawer that has been a staple of its platform since the very beginning. It indicates that the company is experimenting with the idea of eliminating it.

Many still believe that’s not going to happen, but at MWC this week, we’ve seen two very good indications that it might. Both LG and HTC — two hardware makers that have worked closely with Google on Nexus devices — have launched new phones that ship without app drawers.

LG’s new G5 and HTC’s new One X9 place all installed apps on the home screen by default. There are options buried within the launcher settings to get them back, and of course, users can still download and apply third-party launchers with app drawers built-in.

I’ve written about why removing the app drawer makes some sense, and why it doesn’t really matter to long-time Android users. However, I’d still be surprised if Google took this step, given that its Nexus devices tend to appeal to those who are already familiar with the Android platform.

We’ll have to wait and see what Android N brings when Google previews it in May at Google I/O — and whether other smartphone and tablet makers launch Android devices without an app drawer in the meantime.

Until then, you might want to start looking for a third-party launcher that suits your needs if you don’t want a world without the app drawer.