It can be said that the app launcher is the defining app for the Android user experience. If you’re stuck with a crappy launcher, you may feel the entire Android experience is lacking. Fortunately, there’s no lack of excellent launchers on the Market, including such crowd-pleasers as LauncherPro and ADW.Launcher. My own personal favorite is Go Launcher EX.
Today I’m going to explain to those who’ve never tried it why this is such an awesome launcher; if you’re one of the millions of people who are already using it, feel free to skip ahead and check out the five beautiful themes I’ll be showcasing below.
Why Go Launcher Is Awesome
Go Launcher EX is super customizable. Customization is something most launchers like to tout, but let me show you three of my favorite features – namely, swipes, dock swipes, and transition animations.
Swiping & Gestures
As you can see, the launcher has “glide up” and “glide down” actions. When I swipe up anywhere on the launcher, the app drawer opens. When I swipe down, Google’s Gesture Search launches. But that’s just one use of swiping; the other use is swiping on the dock icons:
When you long-tap one of the dock icons, you can set a Gesture action for the icon. This action is executed whenever you swipe up on the icon. So for me, tapping the Messaging icon launches the Messaging up, but swiping up on it launches the Gmail app. Two apps, a single icon. This feature is the single best feature of Go Launcher EX (for me, at least), and it’s something I haven’t seen any other launcher do.
Last but not least in this brief overview are the transition animations. Go Launcher EX offers ten different animations for swiping between home screens:
My favorite one (as you may guess from the screenshot) is the Cube one, where it feels like you’re rotating a cube whenever you flip between screens.
Hopefully, if you’ve never used Go Launcher EX before, I’ve managed to pique your interest. It’s a free app, and you should just go to the Go Launcher EX Market page and install it right now. Once you do that (or if you already have it installed), read on for some beautiful themes I found on the Market.
Applying A Theme
To apply a theme, tap the Menu button while in Go Launcher EX, and then tap the Themes button (third icon on the top row below):
You will find yourself within Go Launcher’s Theme Market, where you can either install new themes or apply ones you’ve already downloaded (I will be including Market links to each of the themes below). So now, let’s see how you can add a bit of pizzazz to your Android experience with these beauties:
Color Dot Theme
The Color Dot Theme offers a selection of hand-drawn, squiggly-looking icons, encircled by colorful dots. It also comes with a wallpaper featuring colored dots:
And here’s what the main menu looks like:
And the some of the available icons:
For a free theme, it includes a pretty impressive array of icons for popular apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and of course, Angry Birds.
is another free theme, which goes for a cleaner look and a generous splash of bold, bright colors. The default wallpaper splits the screen into top and bottom areas, making it ideal for a setup like this:
Meaning, widgets at the top, apps at the bottom. The default wallpaper is branded with a logo, but the developer has thoughtfully included a non-branded version as well, as you can see above. The dock icons each have their own mini-shadow, making for a cartoonish look. Here are some of the other icons included in the theme:
Now that we’ve looked at two free themes, let’s take a look at two paid ones. Both are very cheap, coming in at under a buck each, and both are clean (perhaps even too clean – you be the judge).
Light Theme, ironically, comes with a very dark default wallpaper:
That’s because the icons it includes are very bright and have a noticeable glow. Check some of them out:
Because of the glow, the icons seem particularly tiny (since the glow takes a part of the space allocated to the icon, obviously). This is particularly noticeable on the YouTube icon (second icon on the second line above). Still, it does have a certain allure, and is a very clean, crisp theme.
The White GO Launcher EX Theme comes from the same developer, and it shows:
Gone are the tiny icons. to be replaced by clear, simplistic, all-white icons. I also like the default wallpaper much better. And now, the built-in icons:
Lovely, aren’t they? I’m not quite sure what that Mac icon is doing there (first one on the second line), but other than that, they are all wonderfully legible and clear. I think for many users, this one is going to be a keeper.
Last but not least, we’re going to end off with another free theme:
Imperial takes things in a different direction, and includes a uniquely curved launcher dock:
This is something I haven’t seen in other themes. I also like the fact the doc icons are abstract, and are not explicitly linked to any specific application. Sadly, it comes with a rather limited selection of icons:
But hey, it’s a free theme, and its basic look (and dock) is certainly eye-catching and unique. I wish there were more themes with curved docks.
Are you married to another launcher? Or did I miss a gorgeous theme? Let me know in the comments!