One of your parents or grandparents has just gotten a new Android phone — and it’s just so confusing. The best way you can help them is to download an extremely simple launcher to their device. These three launchers are simple and easy to use, with big pictures and text so that your older relatives don’t even have to put on their glasses.
We’ve taken a look at a bunch of great launchers in the past — even some gesture-based launchers — but these launchers take us in a new direction. Instead of trying to be innovative and customizable, they strive to take the complexities out of Android.
And they succeed.
First up on this list is the beautifully colorful and straightforward Wiser. We’ve reviewed Wiser in the past and found it to be a fantastic way to simplify your Android experience, but let’s take a brief look at it in comparison to these other two launchers as well.
Wiser is so easy to setup that your older relative could easily get it installed with the step-by-step instructions if you just point them to the Play Store. You start at the home page with links to your Contacts, Dialer, Messaging, Camera, Gallery, and Applications.
Tapping the arrow to the right will take you to your Favorite People where you can add contacts. Going to the right again will show you two pages where you can add favorite apps.
However, going left brings you to the Notice Board, which takes all your notifications and puts them in an easier to read Wiser-style configuration. As the only launcher with notifications integrated like that, this is a standout feature for Wiser.
You can still access all your apps on the device, so the launcher doesn’t get rid of any functionality. The Dialer and the Contacts apps are both built-in to the launcher, but other additions like the Messaging app, Camera, and Gallery will take you to the Android device’s default — unlike some of the others on this list which have their own apps for those.
But for those times when you are redirected to outside apps, you can always customize Android’s text size and keyboard to make it easier to use.
Download: Wiser (Free)
Created by XDA forum member Williams.Joe, Necta Launcher is a comprehensive offering that has a lot of built-in simple-style apps. Aesthetically, it’s certainly not as nice as Wiser, but you can at least switch between a blue, green, or red theme in the settings menu.
The default page shows the date and day of the week at the top, three favorite contacts below that, and large icons with text for basic functions like calling and messaging. Strangely, tapping on Call will take you to the built-in contacts apps, and it requires another tap to get to the phone dial, which could be a bit confusing for those not familiar with smartphones and phone/contact app integration.
However, Necta has the best selection of built-in apps out of these three launchers. While Wiser will redirect you back to your stock SMS app, Necta has it’s own simplified messaging app that follows its theme.
There’s also a built-in camera interface, gallery, flashlight, and SOS app. These apps all keep a back arrow at the bottom for easy navigation as well.
Just like in Wiser, you have an app drawer with all your installed apps available, but Necta goes a step further and includes settings in the app for for WiFi and other customizations. True, this could be confusing for some, but it also saves you from having to go into the System Settings, which are probably more confusing for the non-tech savvy.
Unfortunately, Necta is only free as a trial, and after a few days, you’ll have to buy a $6.99 in-app purchase to access the full version.
Download: Necta (Free trial)
Don’t let the hefty price tag ($10) scare you away — Big Launcher is actually a viable option here. It won’t win any design awards, but it’s big, bold, and has high contrast, so it shouldn’t be a problem even for those with poorer eyesight. Right on the home page, you can see the alarm and cell signal, with large colorful buttons below and no text you’d need to squint for.
Big Launcher also has an SOS feature built-in, which can be used to either call or text pre-set numbers in case of an emergency. For senior citizens, this is a particularly helpful feature to alert their loved ones if they’re unable to get up or have a serious problem.
There is no built-in camera or gallery app, so you’ll be redirected to the defaults for that, and the phone app — like on Necta — opens to the contacts page and requires another tap to get to the dialer. You can still access all your regular apps, but this time it’s in a listview.
While its price is high, you can try out the free demo, which doesn’t have ads or a time limit, but it is limited in a few features like how many past calls and text message threads will be shown.
Grand Launcher looks like it was designed in the 90s, but that might be exactly what your parent or grandparent is looking for. It has that familiar old Windows XP kind of style with contrasting colors and big gray buttons.
I found this to be one of the easiest to navigate. There’s only ever a few buttons on screen at any one time, and even the camera interface is hugely simplified. It gives you all the stuff you need for the actions you’re doing at the moment, and nothing else.
Unfortunately, it’s only free for a week, after which you’ll need to upgrade to the $1.99 paid version, but that’s not a lot for such a quality launcher.
While high-contrast, simplified launchers are generally intended to clash with modern design aesthetics, Phonotto does a good job blending the two. As a result, this launcher is probably the nicest-looking on this list, with colorful icons and modern fonts.
Upon setup, Phonotto will run you through everything you want to activate, and it could be a nice little refresher to go through it with the person you’re setting it up for. Once you’re all set, though, it’s beyond simple. People of any age should be able to navigate the large and clearly-labelled buttons with ease.
The free version is only good for 30 days, after which you’ll have to pay a $0.99/month subscription fee to continue. So it’s a much cheaper upfront cost but could end up costing you more than the other launchers in the long run.
Download: Phonotto (Free trial)
Which Is The Best?
My personal favorite, and the one I would recommend for my old folks, is Grand Launcher. It’s dated aesthetic isn’t quite my style, but I think it would work well for its target audience. Plus, it has the most built-in apps and features, which reduces confusion for the user. And it’s only $1.99 for the full version!
On the other hand, if you think your folks are equipped to eventually become power users, you could always point them to Nova Launcher (and start with these essential Nova Launcher tips).
Image Credit: BIG Launcher