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One of the best things about Android is the ability to customize almost every aspect of the operating system.  The Android home screen (basically the Android “desktop”) is no different – it can be replaced with other applications that offer many more features.

HelixLauncher is a free Android 2.0+ home screen replacement and is forked from the default Home application.

This means that HelixLauncher is based off the original source code for the Android Home screen which allows for great speed and compatibility.

Features

HelixLauncher offers several features that really set it apart from the default home screen.  HelixLauncher supports up to 7 different home screens while the default home screen application only supports 3.  HelixLauncher also lets you “pin” four of your favorite applications to the bottom of the screen which is great for frequently used apps.

I chose to add Phone, Gmail, Messaging (Handcent SMS) and Browser (xScope Browser) as shown below.

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The application drawer has been replaced with the icon from the Nexus One/Android 2.1 but otherwise functions the same.

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HelixLauncher supports Live Wallpapers, which are animated and interactive wallpapers that were added to Android 2.1.  You can also double-tap on the home screen to bring up a handy screen switcher.

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HelixLauncher includes a very useful uninstallation feature similar to the one used in the Home++ home replacement application.  To uninstall an application, drag its icon over the trash can and hold it there.  After a few seconds, your phone will vibrate and the uninstallation window will appear.  The developer has noted that future versions of HelixLauncher will contain a more explicit notification when you hold the icon over the trash can.

Conclusion

If you’re using the default Home screen, switching to HelixLauncher is a no-brainer – the ability to pin applications to the bottom of the screen is worth it alone. Since the default home application only supports 3 home screens, you’ll really appreciate the extra space you’ll get from HelixLauncher.

If you’re already using an Android home screen replacement, I’ve found that HelixLauncher is much snappier than other replacements I’ve used and I have had no issues with force closures.  The only thing I find lacking in HelixLauncher is the ability for looping home screens like the Home++ replacement home screen offers.

Personally, I’ve switched from Home++ to HelixLauncher and plan to continue using it.  I installed the application BetterCut ($1.99, available in the Android Market with the Blackxeth icon pack, free) to create custom shortcut icons for my pinned applications which I think really enhanced the look.

Since HelixLauncher is free, it’s definitely worth checking out.  You can find HelixLauncher in the Android Market by searching for “HelixLauncher”, opening this link in an Android browser, or scanning the QR code below.

Note: When you first install HelixLauncher, you may have to press the physical Home button on your phone to launch it.  A shortcut in the applications drawer is currently not available, but the developer has mentioned that it will be included in future releases.  If you want HelixLauncher to stay as your home screen, you can set it as the default when you press the physical Home button.

Photo credit: laihiu

  1. Aibek
    May 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hey Alfredo,

    If you don't get any answer here, I suggest you ask this question on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answe...

    Aibek

  2. Alfredo
    May 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Has anybody had issues with widgets that use an internet connection? I'm having issues with BBC News, especially, where the headline on the widget never updates. It just reads "Headline will be available later." Sometimes the Weather Channel widget doesn't work, either. Both work fine in the stock Home app. If I can get that to work, HelixLauncher will be great.

  3. Annette
    May 11, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I downloaded Helixlauncher but I wanted to wait until I had time to figure it out before I started using it, so I hit a button that made it "go away" and now, although it is still installed, I can't find it or get it to run on my Droid. I uninstalled and redownloaded and still no go! Any advice?

    • Mark Jones
      May 12, 2010 at 3:55 am

      Annette: Try pressing the home button for a while, it should ask you which application you want to use. If it doesn't go into Settings > Applications > Manage Applications and then choose to 'clear defaults'. This should then prompt you the next time you load back to your home screen which application to use.

  4. Evan Wondrasek
    April 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Icyzer,

    The developer is available in this forum: http://forum.xda-developers.co...

  5. Icyzer
    April 27, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    How can I contact the creator for suggestions?

  6. Edguy
    March 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    what clock&weather widget are you using? looks nice!

    • Evan Wondrasek
      March 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      That widget is "Beautiful Widgets" by LevelUp Studio. It costs €1.49.

      That application includes several widgets including a large and small home screen weather/time widget. I'm using the smaller widget to save space, but the larger one looks much better. It is fully skinnable.

      You can touch the weather to get a full forecast with some very nice visual effects. The widget also links to your calendar and alarm clock.

      Overall one of my favorite apps!

  7. Kelly
    March 26, 2010 at 4:24 am

    I have been using this for a few days and I am even more in love with it! It actually seems much faster than the default one, plus it landscape rotates the home screen!!!

  8. Kiril
    March 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

    what is the calendar widget that you are using in the last screenshot?

    • Evan Wondrasek
      March 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      That widget is the Pure Calendar (Agenda) widget and is available in the Android Market for €1.49. A VERY excellent calendar widget, highly customizable and also has Astrid task integration.

      I was using CalWidget before which I also liked, but it was lacking graphically. CalWidget is free though, worth checking out. It also has a 1x1 widget which is nice if you want to save space.

      • Kelly
        March 26, 2010 at 5:06 am

        Hi Evan,
        I installed bettercut and the same icon pack (and some others). I went to edit icon for gmail, changed the icon, then hit create. When I dragged it to the pinned area in helix, it doesn't show up. Anything I am doing wrong?
        Thanks,
        Kelly

        • Evan Wondrasek
          March 26, 2010 at 6:33 am

          Hi Kelly,

          Instead of modifying the existing icon, try creating your own custom shortcut. In BetterCut, go to "Other available shortcut", select Gmail label, select your account, then select a label (probably Inbox). Then customize the shortcut as usual and try pinning it again.

          Hope that helps!

        • Kelly
          March 27, 2010 at 10:14 am

          After I posted I did a reboot and it started working, thanks though!

  9. Kelly
    March 23, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Just installed, phenomenal! I love the pinned icons, and this thing is fast!

  10. cy
    March 22, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks for posting this! Downloaded earlier today, and this thing is zippy! I was using dxtop prior.

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