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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.


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.


android home screen replacement

alternative android home screen

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

android home screen replacement

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.

android home screen replacement

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.


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

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