There are lots of great launchers for Android, and these gesture-based launchers are wonderful additions to those. Think of them as secondary launchers that allow you to access your apps from any other app. They either work by swiping in from designated corners, tapping a notification, twisting your phone, or swiping up from a button, making the process of switching between apps even faster.
If you’ve ever wanted a quicker way to access your most frequently used apps, read on.
This gesture-based secondary launcher is activated by swiping up from your home button on the navigation bar, which is a neat trick usually reserved for Google Now. It can also be activated by holding the physical search button or camera button if you have one. Unfortunately, if you don’t have any of those functions, like on my Samsung Galaxy S3, you’ll need to download the TouchWiz plugin which will allow you to launch the app by holding the home button. The developer says they they’re working on a function to launch it from swiping up from the button of the screen, but so far that feature is not included.
Aside from that, it’s a very useful app. It launches quickly and has a gorgeous overlay that greys out the background and includes large, circular buttons. During setup, it asks you if you want the normal setup or advanced setup, and that can be changed at any time in the settings. This is a nice addition that can make it easier for novices to understand the app, but the advanced setup is also very customizable.
Its biggest drawback is not functioning properly without a navigation bar and requiring a plugin for TouchWiz devices. However, if it works with your device, it’s a nearly perfect add-on launcher.
This one gets a bit different, taking a hint from the Moto X’s wrist-twisting camera launching feature. The free version only allows for one function: twist your wrist twice to launch the camera app. The unfortunate thing is that it only works with the screen on. However, I was surprised at how well it worked, recognizing my gestures accurately every time.
With the paid $1 version, you can change which app it launches and use a couple of different motion-activated gestures as well. It’s much different from the others since it only supports three separate apps and requires you to twist your phone around a bit, but it works as advertised. If that’s your thing, Twisty is a wonderful gesture-based launcher.
For those of you itching just to spell out what you’re looking for, Google Gesture Search is a fantastic free app for doing just that. Simply spell out whatever you’re searching for, and Gesture Search will search through your phone. It can index apps, browser bookmarks, artists, albums, tracks, settings, and contacts. Each letter you type will be added to the bar at the bottom until you spell out an entire word, but of course, you can choose an app without typing out the entire name, and scrolling through the list doesn’t draw a random letter.
The app worked very well in handwriting recognition department, but not so well with the motion activation feature. In the settings, it says that you should be able to launch Gesture Search with a quick double wrist flick, but it didn’t work at all on my Galaxy S3. I’m sure this varies from device to device, so give it a shot with your own device.
Also, keep in mind that if you have it index your contacts, they will most likely drown out your apps (or maybe you have very few contacts and a lot of apps; I don’t know you). For me, I think I’ll keep it just for searching quickly through apps, but it has a lot of potential and I hope this isn’t a project that Google kills off.
SwipePad is a super fast way of launching apps from wherever you are. You select where you slide in from to activate it, as shown by the red bar below, and then slide in and release on the “portal” of your choosing. Since you slide in and release rather than sliding in and then selecting an app, the process is actually very quick. And to edit different portals, you simply hover over one until it turns orange. Plus, they seem to have somehow gotten around the 5 seconds after pressing your home button problem.
SwipePad is a tad boring; it doesn’t look as nice to use as Slide Launcher, but functionally, it is very fast and efficient. If you’re purely looking for performance here, then I think SwipePad is the way to go. You can read our complete SwipePad review to learn more about it.
Slide Launcher, and SwipePad offer some slick-looking ways to quickly access your favorite apps from wherever you are. Google Gesture Search takes a bit of a different route, allowing you to draw out letters or numbers to search through your phone, and Twisty gets even more creative, having you twist your phone about in your hand to launch apps.
Essentially, however you find it easiest to launch apps, you can bet there’s an Android app for it. And if you’ve made it this far, I know you’re at least somewhat into customizing your device, so you might want to have a look at these 5 launchers for Android, or some more unique ones like Aviate or Buzz Launcher.
Which of these do you like the most? Or do you have a different gesture-based launcher that you prefer? Let us know in the comments!
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