Launchers are an essential aspect of the Android experience which gives users the opportunity of changing the appearance and theme of their device, a feature that iOS users do not have. Although not in the form of an app, the launchers come with a diverse range of features compared to simple apps. For example, many of the function of launchers can be accessed right on the phone page instead of having to go into an app. From music to search, thousands of these launchers are available to customize and populate the screen in order to give users complete control of the functions that they desire. Some of the best launchers include:
Action Launcher 3
Build your perfect, finely manicured home screen with Action Launcher. The app lets you customize your device’s look without compromising your ability to get to apps, with are all available in an “app dock” area that slides out with a swipe of your finger. You can also use swipe controls to quickly access launcher functions no matter what app you’re using on the device, making it even easier to flip from one app to another.
Buzz Launcher is all about great-looking themes, which you can easily apply to your Android device to give it a distinct, exciting look. The app packs more than 1000,000 home screens to choose from, and it includes a number of widgets you can utilize as well, such as those for viewing your device’s battery life, date, clock and more. Plus, you can use Buzz Launcher to create your own personal widgets.
Make your Android device a little more convenient with Flip Launcher, which allows you to quickly launch a few certain apps without having to return to your Home screen. Flip Launcher adds that little bit of convenience you didn’t know you were missing. You can assign four different apps or shortcuts to the app’s flippers, which are little spaces on the side of the screen that can then be used to quickly launch them. Flip Launcher is ideal for smartphone and tablet junkies who want to save precious seconds in launching your apps. Flip Launcher isn’t essential, of course, but it does make getting to your most important apps a lot easier.
Organize your apps, create unlimited app dock tabs, control your device with gestures and access advanced widget options for greater customization with Apex Launcher. It lets you set up widgets as you like, including overlapping them, to get your device looking exactly the way you like. You also can create folders, merge them together, and make use of other organizational options.
Although many take the layout of the home screen to be fixed with the dock and app positions, the Apex Launcher enables for the complete control of how an Android device looks and feels when in use. In allowing for the user to customize their device, the launcher combines the stock Android appearance and feel along with personalization features that make it unique to every user. For example, some of the options include altering the transition animations, scrolling habits, and layout of the screen, options that most users assume to be unchangeable. Furthermore, even the dock can be altered to one which is scrollable instead of simply being fixed in a single position.
Similar to Apex Launcher in that Nova Launcher also aims to provide a personalized experience, the customization features of Nova Launcher does not just alter the functionality of the screen but also provides several beautifully designed themes. With a look and feel that further detracts from the original Android device, the launcher enables for the complete change of the desktop, drawers, dock, folders, look, and gestures while the premium version unlocks even more gestures, scrolls, and the ability to hide apps. As a customization launcher, it is also able to backup and restore the home screen layouts at any time to the original Android layout.
Use Nova Launcher if you’re looking for lots of customization options. It allows you to organize your apps into tabs and folders, with an unlimited number of tabs at your disposal to allow you to get exactly the organization you want. You can also set swipes to access app docks while you’re using other apps, and activate other apps or actions using gesture commands.
A smooth, easy to use launcher, the handy part about LauncherPro is the organization it affords Android users. You can create and customize up to six home screens with the app, or launch apps from the launcher’s app drawer, which features either 2-D or 3-D visual effects to go with it. There’s also a scrollable shortcut dock for your favorite apps and other device features.
Boasting the highest degree of simplicity, the Atom Launcher comes with a black and white theme that not only customizes the appearance, but also has custom icon designs for various stock apps which add to the minimalistic approach. The launcher also features a theme maker for those who are not interested in the black and white theme, although all of them are still based around the idea of minimalism instead of sophisticated features and functions. Furthermore, Atom Launcher comes with the option to enable gesture controls, built-in widgets, a hidden dock with additional settings, and icon packs.
One of the cleanest launchers available, Solo Launcher couples some of the most commonly used functions right into the launcher so that other apps are not required. For example, Solo Search effectively replaces Google Search as the launcher features a search bar right into the home screen and is part of the theme. Furthermore, beautiful themes are available for free while the DIY options allow the users to customize the app icon with their own photos, something that other launchers fail to do. Other features of the app include the ability to clean and boost the device with a single click in order to increase the performance and speed of the phone while the wallpaper shuffler is able to change the wallpaper to reflect the mood of the user.
Next Launcher 3D Shell
Unique in usability, the Next Launcher 3D Shell comes with a 3D style home appearance that makes the various home screen pages into a 3D animation. With the use of the scroll tab positioned on the right side, the scrolling of the launcher can be done rapidly among the screen to resemble the turning of a cube. Furthermore, the Next Launcher 3D Shell likewise features unique themes, icons, and widgets which can be downloaded separately. The launcher has additional in-app purchases to unlock premium features for those who want to further customize their 3D shell to include more wallpaper and themes.
BIG Launcher is a home screen replacement for the visually impaired or elderly. It’s designed for readability and ease of use. Though BIG Launcher has been around for a while, its latest update is significant. It now features unlimited screens, big battery and signal icons, buttons that can have any icon on them, an SMS editor and forwarding, plus some handy bug fixes. There’s a free demo version to try out first. As BIG Launcher is controlled by single touches with no swipes and no long presses, it’s perfect for the elderly, those lacking mobility in their hands, or even kids. With big fonts and large buttons and an interface featuring TalkBack, it’s also ideal for the visually impaired.
Just like launchers, widgets are extensions to the Android operating system and can provide users with more options than traditional apps. Like shortcuts, the use of widgets can range from bookmarks, weather notification, calendars, and clocks which are right in the home screen so that users do not have to enter any apps to access these functionalities. Beyond the stock widgets that are typically provided with any Android device, some of the best ones include:
Weather app 1Weather packs a number of handy widgets, and all of them make it easy to get the weather information you need to plan your day. The app features different clock widgets, as well as other weather widgets that are all reconfigurable, allowing you to get exactly the look and functionality you want out of them. Featuring an old style “flip clock and weather” style, the 1Weather widget is far superior to the weather widget that comes with the device. With both time and weather alerts, clicking on the clock takes the user to the alarm function while clicking on the weather part opens 1Weather. Through comprehensive weather reports that are tailored to the needs of the user, the app only populates information which the user deems to be relevant. For example, if wind speed and humidity are not metrics that are important, they can be hidden. Furthermore, the widget has nearly all of its features for free with the only in-app purchase for ad removal.
Battery Widget Reborn
A unique way to display battery percentage, Battery Widget Reborn is a circular battery gauge which is able to be resized to any dimension. Beyond just displaying the battery percentage, the widget also shows battery information as well as shortcuts options like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings which can be quickly changed to enhance battery life. Offering multiple colors, the widget can be fully customized to fit right into the theme as to not stand out as a result of conflicting colors or size.
As a system monitoring widget, Elixir 2 comes with nearly all of the required metrics to show the current performance of the device. For example, the widget is able to display data such as hardware info, storage, battery, memory, CPU, audio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth status. Furthermore, users can also choose an optional add-on to the widget which includes more features such as SD card mounting, USB debugging toggles, haptic feedback toggles, volume control, and lots more, making it perfect for detailed analysis of the device performance.
The calendar widget created by Any.DO for its Cal app is a handy addition to your Android device. It brings each day’s schedule to your home screen so you can quickly review what appointments and other commitments you might have in a given day. The idea is to maximize your ability to keep organized while requiring only a glance.
The widget version of Flipboard pipes the latest stories from your various news feeds straight to your home screen so you never miss an incoming news story. The widget takes on Flipboard’s signature magazine-like design, focusing on big images and headlines to help you get the gist of a story and decide whether you want to quickly tap in and read more.