Whether you’re tired of your stock home screen or just want to try something new, there’s bound to be an Android launcher that’s just right for you. This week we’re going to check out our top five Android launchers for customisation, speed, design and features.
Photo by Pen Waggener.
ADWLauncher EX ($3.15), the paid version of ADW.Launcher, is a highly flexible, customisable launcher that supports Android 1.6 and higher. ADW offers hundreds of themes to choose from, customisable home screen layouts, multiple dock styles that fit up to five different shortcuts, customisable icon sets, switchable animations, a hidden dockbar with unlimited scrolling and more. It’s incredibly tweakable for the advanced, fast and user-friendly for beginners, and it supports a huge number of devices.
Nova Launcher is free but only supports Ice Cream Sandwich devices. It gives you the flexibility to install ADW icon themes if you want to use them, additional themes to change the layout and look of your launcher, a scrollable dock with up to three pages of seven icons each, scroll effects and launch animations that you can toggle on or off, 1×1 widgets in your dockbar and more. If you have $4 to spend, Nova Launcher Prime unlocks unread count badges, the ability to hide apps, two-finger gestures and dockbar folders.
Go Launcher EX’s claim to fame is how customisable it is. There are thousands of themes and icon packs you can download to customise Go Launcher EX, heaps of widgets, lock screen tweaks and more. Rounded corners, folder groups, good-looking animations, and an emphasis on customisable layouts make this launcher popular, and it doesn’t hurt that it supports Android phones running 2.0 or higher. Combine this with the fact that the developers are constantly updating the launcher (which is actually a drawback for many users) and rolling out additional themes and Go-flavoured apps and widgets that fit right in, and you have a wealth of tools to transform your Android experience. Plus, it’s completely free.
Apex Launcher is free, but it’s another one in the roundup that only supports Ice Cream Sandwich devices. It’s fast and customisable, offers up to nine homescreens, seven dockbars with five icons each, replacement icons for stock Android apps, and lots of beautiful transition and scroll effects. Best of all, if there’s any element of Apex Launcher that you don’t like, you can easily hide it. You can lock your home screen so nothing changes, back it up in case you you want to revert a change you’ve made, and tweak the app drawer’s appearance. $3.89 will buy you Apex Launcher Pro, which adds multifinger gestures to the ones already in the launcher, support for themes from other launchers (ADW, Go Launcher and Launcher Pro), 1×1 widgets in the dock and unread count badges.
Launcher Pro is the non-stock launcher that new users often try first. It supports Android devices running 2.0 and higher, and while it’s not as frequently maintained as the others, it still offers buttery-smooth transitions, customisable layouts, dock scrolling and live home screen previews. Launcher Pro supports replacement icon packs, infinite scrolling and more. It has been a long time since its last update, but if you’re looking for a good, fast Launcher to get started with, Launcher Pro is a good pick.
Honourable mentions this week go out to Zeam Launcher for its minimalistic and uncluttered approach, and Stock ICS Launcher for being a huge improvement over launchers of yesteryear. Sadly, since most Android users don’t have ICS yet, the latter is not an option until you upgrade your device or your manufacturer decides to throw you a bone. Also worth mentioning is Holo Launcher, which does a great job of bringing the ICS launcher experience to non-ICS devices.
Have something to say about our favourites? Is there another launcher you think should be included in this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.