What does your Android launcher say about you? Is it really the best launcher for you, or maybe there’s a better one waiting just around the corner? The Play Store has a multitude of launchers, some popular and even some you may never have heard of.
For the uninitiated, a launcher is an app that lets you customize the look of your homescreen (or “desktop”, in the traditional sense) as well as your app drawer (the place where you see apps when you hit the Home button).
Now, given the huge number of launchers available, there’s something for everyone. So here are the best app launchers for particular needs:
For The Speed Freak: Nova Launcher
If this is your first time changing your Launcher, then Nova Launcher is your best bet. It’s fast, it’s easy to use and it never crashes — something other launchers can do from time to time. It offers a wide variety of customizations and we think it’s better than the default Android 4.0 Launcher. And it’s the only one of the launchers that is as seamless on a tablet as on a phone.
- Set number and arrangement of homescreens, grid size, margins, search bar on/off, transition effects, widgets, etc.
- Horizontal and vertical style of app drawer, infinite scroll.
- Pagination in dock, infinite scroll.
- Customizable color theme, icon theme, animations.
- Backup and Restore Nova settings.
- Great tablet support.
- Gestures are mostly paid, requiring Nova Prime to unlock.
- ‘Unread count’ notification on icons is paid.
For The Fashionita: Buzz Launcher
Buzz Launcher changes the game when it comes to homescreen. The onus is no longer on you to create a beautiful screen. Instead, you can browse through the Homepack Buzz service for dashing designs made by other users. When you find something you like, just download it to get that look on your Android. The themes that use third-party widgets and apps not installed on your device will prompt you to get those services. In essence, Homepack Buzz is a forum to create and share themes that anyone can use — perfect for those who aren’t great at customizing but like their phone to have a unique look among friends. And yeah, you can upload your own themes too.
- Fantastic UI, the best of the lot.
- Crowd-sourced themes.
- Imports settings from Apex, LauncherPro, Nova.
- Gesture support: home key, swipe up/down, double tap, long press, two-finger swipes.
- Unread count on icons for missed call, messages, Gmail.
- Customizable effects for single screen or multiple screens in homescreen.
- Crashed thrice in tests.
- Like Apex Launcher, is sluggish on older hardware and comes with the option to reduce redraws by always keeping it in memory.
- No search function for themes, can only browse through categories.
- Doesn’t work well on tablets.
For Older Phones & Hardware: LauncherPro
LauncherPro is among the oldest Launchers on Android. At this point, it’s dated when compared to modern Launchers, but it does have one thing going for it: support for older hardware and firmware.
- Supports Android 2.0 and upwards.
- Runs well on even phones with a single-core processor.
- Customizable shortcuts in Dock to direct dial or direct message someone, even on WhatsApp.
- Infinite scroll in app drawer.
- No customization options at all.
- Animation effect when starting the app drawer isn’t nice.
- No backup or restore.
- Have to uninstall through Settings->Apps, no option to drag icon to trash can.
For Windows Phone 8 Fans: Launcher 8
Like the tiled interface of Windows Phone 8? Wish you could have that on your Android? Meet Launcher 8, an app that skins your homescreen to look like WP8. The recreation is pretty faithful, letting you adjust the size of tiles and swipe to access the app drawer.
- Customize applications to bind to tiles.
- Set tile name and color.
- WP8-like animations.
- No built-in widgets to complement the theme.
- Gets slow with usage.
For iPhone Fans:
Hi Launcher faithfully recreates the look of iOS on your Android, supporting both the older iOS 6 and the new iOS 7. For the iOS 7 look, you need to download an . It’s great to rub it in the faces of your iPhone-toting friends: “Hey look, my phone is just like yours!” It’ll drive them crazy!
- Looks very similar to iOS, complete with the glass dock and search screen.
- Direct access to all apps.
- No unread count on icons.
- Icon pack does not use all iOS icons.
- No built-in widgets to complement the theme.
What’s your favorite?
Like we mentioned earlier, this is only a small section of the number of launchers available on the Play Store. We haven’t even included a few others we like, such as the impressive ADW Launcher or the feature-filled Apex Launcher. And then there are other options too, like Facebook Home for those who love the social network.
Which launcher do you use on your Android device? Are you happy with the stock launcher you got on your phone or tablet?