Third-party Launchers to spruce up your phone
CHANGE THE WAY YOUR ANDROID LOOKS AND PERFORMS WITH THESE ALTERNATIVE LAUNCHERS.
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 A third-party launcher can even help breath new life into an older out-of-date device.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.
novalauncher.com 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.
arrowlauncher.com 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.com 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.
actionlauncher.com 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 LAUNCHER 3
smartlauncher.net 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.