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It sometimes feels as though half of the apps on Google Play are launchers. But this one is different – I promise. While we’ve previously looked at industry giant Nova that hews close to the official Android line, we also reviewed more unique launchers such as Action Launcher and even context-based Chameleon. We like these, because they capture the spirit of Android: You should be able to customize your phone: not just to make it look different, but work differently, too. Lucid Launcher takes that spirit and runs with it, giving you vertical homescreens, a quick sidebar, and an integrated browser.
The Broad Strokes
What makes Lucid unique:
- Vertical home screens: They’re not arranged side-by-side like on almost every other launcher, but top-to-bottom. That’s because it has…
- Subtle swiping features: Many launchers let you swipe the screen to do stuff. Lucid is more subtle than most, as you’ll see.
- A favorites sidebar: Instead of the traditional dock, you get a sidebar.
- Super-fast app search: Start typing the name of any app to launch it.
- A built-in browser: A weird bloatware feature on an otherwise lean launcher, which thankfully can be disabled.
Now, the paid vs. free question: The paid version gets you earlier updates, custom text for the search box, a way to make the sidebar transparent, and a bunch of other animations. Nice features, but nothing you won’t be able to live without – the main reason to buy is to support the developer.
Getting Stuff Done
To switch between home screens, swipe up and down. To get to the app drawer, swipe right from the middle of the screen:
To quickly find an app, type part of its name in the search bar:
You don’t have to be in the app drawer to do this – you can start typing from the home screen, and the search bar is visible on all home screens. Search is very responsive. Unfortunately, you will have to use your device’s regular keyboard for this. A large T9 keyboard would have been perfect here, and could have made Lucid Launcher a true rival for previously-reviewed AppDialer. No such luck.
You can long-press an app icon to add it to the sidebar or to a home screen.
Swiping left from the middle of the screen puts you into the built-in browser. I won’t elaborate on the browser too much, mainly because I don’t really see the point in this feature. Fortunately, it can be switched off in the settings.
There are two other kinds of swipes, though:
If you swipe right from the edge of the screen (versus the middle), the sidebar slides in. And in the browser, if you swipe left from the edge of the screen, you get another sidebar.
As befitting any modern launcher, Lucid comes packed with settings:
I won’t run through them (boring!), but it’s cool to see how much you can customize the sidebar:
These are two layouts for the same sidebar, created by tweaking background settings, icon size, padding, and so on. On the left you can see me dragging the Phone shortcut up to rearrange things (just press, hold, drag).
Limitations and Drawbacks
One thing you can’t customize, unfortunately, is the sidebar’s alignment. Being a leftie, I usually hold the phone in my right hand – so it’d be nice if I could pop the sidebar in from the right side, using my thumb. This is something previously-reviewed Smart Launcher lets you do, but Lucid doesn’t.
Interestingly, you also can’t drag icons between homescreens, at least at this point. The developer says this is coming. And finally, I already noted the lack of a built-in T9 keypad in the quick app search.
A Pleasant Surprise
A launcher isn’t a destination in itself – it should let you get to the apps you need, fast, and then stay out of your way. Lucid does this well. It’s a young app and there is still work to be done on it, but it already presents a compelling alternative to the boring, entrenched launchers out there. Try out the free version.