If there’s one thing that seasoned Androidusers enjoy, its playing around with the user experience; it’s something even apple fanboys are secretly envious of. Android’s customisable launcher feature allows you to alter the way you interact with your device and bypass some unimaginative or plain boring user experiences crafted by device manufacturers. You can choose the appearance and navigation pattern that you dig with one of these custom launchers. From the home screen to the entire user experience our list of Android launchers allow you to get the most of your device. What’s more you can move with the same launcher even as you switch devices.
The first thing this launcher does (once you install it) is quickly organises your apps into folders and create a ‘quick contact panel’ so that you can easily access the stuff you need with a single click. The launcher brings key information (like missed calls, calendar items) to the home screen with a unique context feed feature while a cool prediction bar on the home screen changes depending on the time of day or place – work apps by day and entertainment by evening!
What we like: prediction bar and a lightning fast search feature.
Need a new home screen every day when you wake up? With over 800,000 themes you’re more than covered; heck, you could get a new Batman theme for every day of the month. Buzz launcher’s biggest draw is its customisation and it doesn’t stop with the home screen. You can alter everything from the clock to the calendar with multiple levels of customisation. Clearly never a dull moment with this launcher.
What we like: never ending theme options
Clutter free and intuitive in the same breath, this launcher isn’t just for Yahoo users but for anyone who digs a minimalist interface. We like the smart stream feature that assembles a series of useful ‘smart cards’ that bring you relevant information about your device and what’s happening around you while the favourite people feature aggregates your preferred contacts, allowing you to access them with a single swipe. There’s a choice of wallpapers to customise your home screen too.
What we like: Clutter free; finds the balance between function and form.
Nokia Z launcher (beta)
It’s still in beta phase but this launcher merits serious consideration for its one killer feature – handwriting recognition. Just scribble a letter on your home screen and the launcher automatically throws up everything – from apps to calendar entries to contacts, with that alphabet. That’s not all, the Z launcher constantly learns from your usage patterns to take you to your preferred apps even faster.
What we like: handwriting recognition that saves valuable time.
Material design was one of the buzz words we heard a lot during the launch of Android Lollipop, Nova doesn’t just boast of the same material design but adds top notch performance and customisation. It’s easy for newbies yet offers serious functionality for Android pros like scrollable docks that allow you to create multiple docks and scroll between them. You can also import your layout from your existing launcher.
What we like: Fast, great blend of customisation and performance.
If you own a smartphone with limited device storage, Solo is a good option. It’s doesn’t just occupy minimal space on your device but also comes with a battery saver option and a one touch system cleaner that helps you keep freeing memory periodically. It doesn’t skimp on functionality though – you can choose from a range of themes, fonts and DIY (Do it yourself) options.
What we like: Light and can boost your smartphone performance.
Another launcher we love for its minimal footprint (3MB download), Hola makes the most of minimal RAM making it ideal for entry level Android devices. It’s not short on fun though. Hola Shine is a fun way to interact with your phone converting frequently used apps into a ‘dialler’ of sorts while the Hola Boost key quickly allows you to clean up your device. The app has a range of theme and wallpaper customisations to boot.
What we like: Light footprint but heavy on user experience.