Third-party Launch­ers to spruce up your phone


TechLife Australia - - CONTENTS - [ CHARLES HANDMER ]

ONE OF THE most im­por­tant — yet cus­tomis­able — parts of An­droid is the Launcher. Es­sen­tially, it’s the user in­ter­face that sits over the top of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem it­self, and dic­tates how your lock screen and home screen look, as well as the ways it’s pos­si­ble to in­ter­act with them. While An­droid has a stock launcher built in, many third-party man­u­fac­tur­ers also cre­ate their own. For those who want to get hands-on, there are loads of third-party launcher apps you can in­stall and cus­tomise. To help you get ac­quainted with the Launcher, we’ve put to­gether a guide in­tro­duc­ing you to the op­tions, as well as show­ing off some of our favourite launcher apps. Next is­sue, we’ll do a deep dive into how to get started with cus­tomis­ing your own launcher.


First and fore­most, launch­ers are used to change the look of your de­vice. It’s pos­si­ble to cus­tomise just about ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing colours, icons and back­grounds. There are also icon and theme packs avail­able that make it very easy to give your phone a com­pletely new look. Some launch­ers also have more in-depth op­tions, such as the abil­ity to move the dock at the bot­tom, or po­si­tion icons in smaller in­cre­ments than the stan­dard An­droid grid. Some launch­ers can mimic the look and func­tion­al­ity of other op­er­at­ing sys­tems, such as iOS or Win­dows, or bring the lat­est An­droid fea­tures to an older de­vice. Third-party apps also have a range of unique fea­tures that you won’t al­ways find in stan­dard launch­ers, from ges­ture sup­port to app lock­ers, se­cu­rity, back­ups, spe­cial wid­gets, a new dock, smart searches and more. Some launch­ers also al­low cus­tomi­sa­tion of the lock screen, and full con­trol over how no­ti­fi­ca­tions are dis­played. A third-party launcher can even help breath new life into an older out-of-date de­vice.


There are scores of launcher apps avail­able, from the good, to the oh-so bad. We‘ve given a run­down our our favourite five be­low, but keep in mind that there are plenty of other op­tions. Many launch­ers can get very spe­cific and of­fer wild and en­ter­tain­ing styles and fea­tures, so don’t be afraid to ex­per­i­ment. When in­stalling or open­ing a new launcher, it should prompt you to set it as the de­fault launcher. If not, head to ‘Set­tings > Apps & no­ti­fi­ca­tions > De­fault apps > Home app’ and se­lect your launcher.


no­ Eas­ily the most pop­u­lar third-party launcher for An­droid, Nova has al­most end­less lev­els of cus­tomi­sa­tion. It also has many guides avail­able, and can even im­port lay­outs. Key fea­tures in­clude sub­grid po­si­tion­ing, theme packs, colour con­trols, a cus­tomis­able

app drawer, ges­tures, and even backup and re­store func­tion­al­ity. Nova Launcher is free, but there is a Prime ver­sion with ex­tra fea­tures for $6.


ar­ For­merly known as Ar­row Launcher, this app is ideal for those who also use Win­dows 10. Not only does it al­low a to­tally cus­tomis­able look, with themes, colours and more, it also helps link your phone and Win­dows PC. For ex­am­ple, ‘Con­tinue on PC’ al­lows you to share pics and con­tinue edit­ing doc­u­ments across de­vices. You can also sync cal­en­dars, re­minders and ac­tiv­ity his­tory. The best part is that the launcher is to­tally free.

EVIE LAUNCHER Op­ti­mised for per­for­mance, Evie Launcher makes sure your user ex­pe­ri­ence is fast and snappy. While the level of cus­tomi­sa­tion is not as deep as some other apps, you can still cre­ate your own look with dif­fer­ent lay­outs, app icons and colours. To make life easy, you can also im­port ex­ist­ing lay­outs and work from there. The launcher also has some unique fea­tures, such as cus­tom short­cut cre­ation, and a uni­ver­sal search that ac­tu­ally searches in­side all your apps. And, of course, t is to­tally free.


ac­tion­ A ver­sa­tile op­tion, Ac­tion Launcher stands out by bring­ing the best of An­droid Oreo and the Pixel launcher to your cur­rent phone. If that’s not your style, the look and feel can be tai­lored to your taste, and it even has a quick­theme op­tion that tai­lors the look based on the colours in your back­ground im­age. Ac­tion Launcher also has spe­cific fea­tures aimed at mak­ing it quick to ac­cess your apps and im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. It also sup­ports adap­tive icons, and with a (paid) up­grade pack, can bring them to older ver­sions of An­droid. Ac­tion Launcher is free, but has ads, and some fea­tures re­quire a paid up­grade.


smart­ To help make life eas­ier, Smart Launcher takes an in­tu­itive ap­proach to the in­ter­face and lay­out that feels min­i­mal­is­tic yet well or­gan­ised. It uses smart app cat­e­gories, and dis­plays the apps and in­for­ma­tion you need most. There are also loads of themes and icon packs avail­able to help cre­ate a unique new look and has fea­tures such as ges­tures and an app locker. The ba­sic app is ad sup­ported, but of­fers paid up­grades for ex­tra fea­tures.

One of the most pop­u­lar launch­ers avail­able, Nova can be tin­kered with near end­lessly.

Some launch­ers are de­signed to mimic a spe­cific look and feel, such as repli­cat­ing iOS on An­droid.

Mi­crosoft Launcher is a must-have for any­one who wants to link their smart­phone to a Win­dows com­puter.

Of­ten the lat­est An­droid fea­tures (such as the Pixel Launcher) can be eas­ily repli­cated with a launcher such as Nova.

You can se­lect your de­fault new launcher un­der De­fault Apps if not prompted dur­ing the in­stall.

Ac­tion Launcher has plenty of cus­tomi­sa­tion avail­able, and even sup­ports adap­tive icons.

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