The Tried and True Free Launcher For Android – ADW Launcher

Joel Lee 22-05-2013

adw launcher for androidA confession up front: Whenever possible, I try to avoid mainstream solutions and go with the lesser-known alternatives. For example, when searching for an Android launcher, I’ll forego something like Nova Launcher Nova Launcher - Even Better Than The Default Android 4.0 Launcher Up until Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) came along, Android’s interface felt somewhat less polished than iOS’s. But with Android 4.0, Google made a clean break with the previous visual style for Android, introducing Holo... Read More in favor of Lightning Launcher 5 Awesome Free Launchers You May Not Know About [Android] I'm an Android user because I love to tinker with my phone and change it up every once in a while. Android lets me do that easily right out of the box because it was... Read More . Maybe it’s just my inner hipster talking. But sometimes, the mainstream solutions are mainstream for a reason. Case in point: ADW Launcher for Android.


Another confession: I’ve avoided ADW Launcher for the past two years and I don’t know why. Maybe it was the not-so-catchy name of the app. Maybe I just had a bad day once and decided to shun ADW forever. Nonetheless, I regret avoiding this launcher for so long because it’s absolutely fantastic and deserves a try no matter who you are.

First Impressions

adw launcher for android

ADW Launcher for Android is packed full of features and concepts that you often don’t see in Android launchers 5 Awesome Free Launchers You May Not Know About [Android] I'm an Android user because I love to tinker with my phone and change it up every once in a while. Android lets me do that easily right out of the box because it was... Read More – like app drawers and action gestures – yet it doesn’t feel bloated. The problem with having so many features? It can be intimidating to new users. I’ve been using Android for a while and even I feel a sense of foreboding when I need to slog through a new app with a mountain of features.

But ADW Launcher takes care of you. Upon first launch, you’ll be met with an introductory glimpse at what this launcher can do, but ADW takes it one step further by combining “introduction” with “configuration setup” into one step. Page by page, ADW’s setup introduces you to a feature, then asks how you want it to be configured. Brilliant!

I have to say that my first impression of ADW is extremely good. That was the easiest and most painless initial setup I’ve ever done – and I dare say that it was fun, too. If they put this much effort and thought into the intro, then I believe the developers know what they’re doing.


App Management

adw launcher android app

Android launchers are all about home screen management and app drawer organization. While ADW Launcher may not be the absolute best in its category (there are paid launchers that perform a bit better), it’s most certainly good enough that I ended up not caring about what other launchers can do.

With ADW home screens, you can play around with the following features:

With ADW app drawers, you get a few unique features I haven’t seen elsewhere:

  • App drawer styles. ADW lets you pick from a number of different app drawer styles: vertical scrolling, cubed pages, simple side-to-side swipes, etc. In the free version, you only have horizontal pages, ICS-style pages, and vertical scrolling. The remaining seven styles – which are arguably cooler – require the premium version of the app.
  • App groups. ADW has a grouping feature which basically splits your app drawer into multiple tabs. Within each app group (which you can name), you can toggle which apps show in the group and which apps are hidden in that group. This is an excellent feature for organization.

Other Features

adw launcher for android

Having plumbed the depth of what ADW can do, I walk away with this understanding: it’s not about being a power user, it’s not about being the prettiest launcher on the market, but it’s all about letting you, the user, pick and choose how you want your screens and drawers to look. Almost every setting is related to this philosophy in one way or another and that’s what makes ADW beautiful.

The free version of ADW Launcher for Android is feature complete without any limitations that would hinder your daily usage. However, for $3.00 USD, you can upgrade to ADW Launcher EX and unlock even more features.

  • More app drawer styles.
  • More home screen page transitions.
  • Extended icon styling and configuration.
  • Save, load, backup, and restore different configuration presets.

Boy, I feel like a fool for waiting this long to give ADW Launcher for Android a chance. It is now the one and only launcher on my phone and I don’t think that will change for many months to come. If you haven’t tried it yet, do yourself a favor and install it.


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  1. Jan Nowaczyk
    May 29, 2013 at 4:59 am

    From the description it looks interesting, I'll try.

  2. Eric Bassinger
    May 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I'm really enjoying Bazooka launcher, it has many options for customization and is free as well. Lightning Launcher is another great one. You should really check out the launcher it's still in beta but it's pretty neat.

    • Joel Lee
      May 24, 2013 at 12:13 am

      Never heard of Bazooka but I used Lightning for a long time and loved it. I'm wary of using launchers in beta but I'll give a look. Thanks!

  3. DalSan M
    May 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

    If you like SPB, then check out TSF Shell. I've loved since my Windows Mobile 6.5 days, and back then SPB was revolutionary while being light and smooth, especially compared to HTC Sense. I've used ADW several times because it is one of the most common launchers cooked into custom ROMS. GO Launcher and Next Launcher are fine, but the push notification ads are annoying. Apex, HD 3D Launcher Pro, HoloLauncher HD, and Touchwiz all have their good and bad points, but to me, TSF Shell tends to fit my needs and wants while being the lesser used and known launcher. Since I have many of these launchers already installed, it allows me to choose any one depending on my mood.

  4. Tanguy Djokovic
    May 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I enjoy SPB shell 3D, without taking the price in factor, it is one of my favorite, it's really nice and good looking, unlike most, when you press home button one time you go back to center screen (duuh) but press it a second time and a beautiful 3D homescreen of all your screen will appear you can then freely roll between each, or just let small animations take control of your screen.

    I would advise those who know what they are doing, or the rich ones, to give it a try

  5. Hemanth G
    May 23, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I haven't used any launchers on Android till now, but ADW sounds good, will give it a try.

  6. Kieran
    May 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

    One very handy thing to add to this (or to any launcher really) is the ChargeBar: [Broken Link Removed] . Have it on my tablet and is great for telling at a glance just how much power I have.

    • Joel Lee
      May 24, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Pretty nice app. I'm going to start using it now. Thanks!

  7. Kushie
    May 23, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Nova on my Nexus 4 makes me absolutely happy. My favorite features are the speed preferences, widget customization, and screen & dock icon gestures.

    • Joel Lee
      May 24, 2013 at 12:11 am

      For paid launchers, Nova is definitely one of the best - if not THE best - out there. Good choice!

  8. Rajaa Chowdhury
    May 23, 2013 at 1:28 am

    I have used quite a few launchers for Android, specially when I had ICS 4.0.4 on my Sammy Galaxy Chat GT-B5330. I have tried the free launchers only. Go Launcher EX, ADW.Launcher, Regina 3D Launcher, Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher, Espier Launcher, Launcher 7 and Holo Launcher HD. I was impressed by the simplicity of ADW.Launcher layout. However, ultimately, I wanted to have different mobile OS interface and therefore settled in with Espier Launcher, Launcher 7 and Holo Launcher HD, and slowly did away with the iOS and WP7 style interface and only settled in for Holo Launcher HD for the stock JellyBean interface experience on the ICS platform. However, around a month ago Sammy pushed the Jelly Bean 4.1.2 official update. However, the launcher is their own TouchWiz launcher, therefore I now have only one free laucher, Holo Launcher HD and made it my default launcher. I have also installed the Holo Locker. This not gives me a full stock Jelly Bean Android experience and I am very satisfied with my phone configuration and experience now. BTW, HOLO is also very snappy.

    • Joel Lee
      May 24, 2013 at 12:10 am

      Yikes, that's quite a history of launchers you have. I've never heard of Espier, so thanks for bringing that to my attention. I've used Holo before and I liked it (as did many of our readers) so you've made a fine choice, even if it isn't ADW. :)