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Boot up your Android device with these launcher apps

by Larry Sullivan

One of the things that I love about my Android phone is the ability to customize wallpapers, themes, icons, you name it. Custom launchers are the other main apps Android users can use to help customize the phone to be what they want and need it to be. I have tried a few of them over the years with, and GoLauncher is the one I have used the most. In today’s post I cover a few of the other launchers out there. A couple quality apps not mentioned here were covered in a post back in December 2012.

Vire Launcher (Free)

VIre Launcher comes in free and pro versions, and it’s available for most Android devices out today. The pro version has some added features, but the free will probably suit most users. With Vire you can add 3-D effects to your phone. When you first launch the app, you are set up with a basic home screen with a neat looking clock widget and a set of the standard icons. As with any launcher customization is the key. Vire will allow you to create folders, resize widgets and manage your screens.

In addition to being able to add shortcuts to app and widgets on your screen, Vire has its own Vire applets which are the metal clock, clock, and picture frame. When you add a shortcut to an app, Vire will adjust the icon to fit the theme. This is pretty cool, giving your screens a uniform appearance. In the settings of the app you can enable reflections, HD shaders, full screen transitions, change the UI theme and in the free version they show the various features which would be unlocked when you upgrade. Overall, this launcher is pretty easy to use.


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FTL Launcher (Free)

FTL LauncherFTL Launcher also comes in free and pro, and it too works with most Android devices and OS versions. The lite version has some of the configurable options pre-loaded and cannot be changed, which is reason enough to download the pro version. When you first launch the app, you are taken to the settings screen which has a ton of options in it. In it is the theme manager, background, number of desktop rows, endless looping, transition speeds, and more.

The option that caught my eye is that you can (in the pro version) use existing ADW, GoLauncher and LauncherPro Icon and Dock theme. This is very,very cool. I have used the GoLauncher for a while. You can mix and match the theme aspects. This launcher does have a lot of different options and really allows you to customize your phone.

Chameleon Launcher for Phones ($2.91)

The Chameleon Launcher was initially compatible with Android tablets, but they’ve broadened their appeal with a new version for Android phones. It should be noted that you cannot use one version on both tablets and phones, and Chameleon will not run with some of the older phones and Android OS. With Chameleon you can create multiple home screens as with any other browser, but the key aspect of this launcher is the widgets. They have some of the best looking widgets. You can create specialized widgets for your calendar, Facebook, music, weather, Twitter, and more.

Another cool feature of this launcher is that you can set up within the app context rules based on time, Wi-Fi networks, even GPS location different home screens. I like this feature because when I come home each day I normally switch to my Wi-Fi and being able to get customized screen for when I am home is just cool. I have a larger screen phone so not sure how it would look on a smaller screen. They do have a calendar add on if interested. Unfortunately there is no free version to try out.

Nemus Launcher (Free)

Nemus LauncherI recently discovered Nemus, a decent  little launcher that will run on most Android phones and OS. It has the basic settings setup such as the home screen settings (page looping) wallpaper, grid size, dock number and more. With the app you can lock contents and editing capabilities, which is new to me. You can of course set the orientation and backup/ restore your settings, and hide apps with Nemus Launcher.

The developers behind Nemus Launcher also produced Regina 3D launcher, which has been out for some time. The launcher does not seem as fancy or glamorous as say the Chameleon launcher, but it most certainly gets  the job done. I like how you can adjust the grid size and in the dock, the apps/home button is always in the middle with the other dock icons sliding around it. With the apps listing area, there is a task killer feature. This is a nice free alternative launcher.

These are just a few of the launchers out there and I suspect there will be more as Android phones and OS change and develop. Which do you use?