I’m an Android user because I love to tinker with my phone and change it up every once in a while. Android lets me do that easily right out of the box because it was designed that way – no rooting or jailbreaking required. One of the easiest ways to switch up my device is to install a new launcher, which is basically the “home screen” that launches programs when you tap on them.
There are a bunch of articles floating around on the Internet about Android launchers, but here are a few I’ve found that you may not have heard about. They’re not as popular as GO Launcher or ADW Launcher, for example, but they’re interesting in their own unique featuresets.
Lose the fat, keep the muscle. Be warned, Lightning Launcher is on steroids.
Lightning Launcher is the launcher that I currently use, and I’ve been extremely happy with it so far. It’s built with the mindset that all extraneous features (the “fat”) should be sliced and thrown away, while keeping all of the powerful features (the “muscle”). The launcher itself weighs in at less than 60KB, so the developers have definitely kept their word on that.
The concept of Lightning Launcher is that the home screen is no more than a blank canvas for apps. There are no more pages that you have to scroll through. Instead, you add the icons to the home screen and then you can scroll around freely, or even pinch to zoom-in and zoom-out.
It runs fast and has a number of customization options, and that’s why I like it – but it’s definitely not for everyone. At least give it a try, though, because it has set itself apart from other launchers well.
A Windows Phone 7 style launcher for Android.
Microsoft has been toying around with the new Metro UI, and from what I hear, it’s a polarizing design choice. Either you love it or you hate it. Fortunately, there are launchers that allow you to give your Android a quick and easy facelift to make it more like Metro.
There are other Metro-based launchers out there, but this one seems to be the least buggy. Plus, it allows proper customization of tiles and themes. The free version has an ad in the apps list, but you can get rid of it by using the donation version for only $1.99.
A launcher application specialized in 3D effects.
MXHome Launcher fills a unique niche – the one all about aesthetics and 3D effects. Like movies, 3D doesn’t automatically make an app better. In fact, it can make an app worse. But if you’re the kind of person that enjoys what 3D has to offer, then you’ll love this launcher.
This launcher has a number of exciting features: dynamic G-sensor movement for optimal 3D visuals, 3D special effects for the home screen, a control tray for quick access to settings, and more. It’s still a new launcher, though, so it’ll be some time before it catches up in the customization department.
MXHome Launcher isn’t really for me, but I can see that it has potential.
The underdog minimalistic launcher for Android phones.
Sometimes you want an app that performs well with the basics and has no fluff on top. In the field of Android launchers, Zeam Launcher is the one that fits the bill. Like Lightning Launcher, it is small, light-weight, and extremely responsive. If you prefer minimalism, then you’ll love this app.
Unfortunately, it’s not very featured-packed. I suppose that doesn’t really matter if you’re consciously seeking out a launcher that is barebones and speedy. Though I prefer Lightning Launcher, Zeam Launcher is definitely worth a go.
Break all the rules and go Faster Than Light!
The developers of FTL Launcher have made a bold claim by saying this launcher is the fastest launcher you’ll ever run. They’ve built the app on the basis of being small, light, and configurable to maximize performance and usability.
Unfortunately, there is a pay version of FTL Launcher, which means that the free version is somewhat restricted in its features. If you don’t care for the extra customization and simply want something that goes Faster Than Light, then perhaps FTL Launcher is the one for you.
I know that I’ve barely scratched the tip of the iceberg of all the Android launchers out there. Every day, there are new ones popping up here and there, and some of them may hold promise. If you know of any Android launchers that are obscure but worth mentioning, feel free to share them in the comments.
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