Customize Your Android Experience with this Guide to Launchers
What is an Android Launcher?
A launcher is the visual display you use to navigate your Android phone. From your home screen to your app drawer, launchers help you easily access all your favourite apps and content. The great thing about Android phones is that you aren’t limited to just the default launcher. There are tons of different options available, and many of them offer a really unique experience. Launchers give you the ability to customize your phone experience in a way that suits you.
Google Now Launcher
This is Google’s official launcher, and in standard Google fashion they kept things pretty simple. You can move around app shortcuts, add some widgets, and access your apps in a nice grid setup. While Google doesn’t offer much more customization beyond that, they do have a few tricks up their sleeve, namely Google Now. Anywhere from your home screen you can say “OK Google” to bring up Google Now’s voice search. You can also swipe from the left to go directly into your personal Google Now page.
If you’re looking for a simple, no fuss launcher or like the idea of using voice commands you’ll be very happy with this one.
Cost: Free / $5.99 for premium
Nova has been in the launcher game for a long time now, and it has become the go to launcher for many Android users. Out of the box it seems a lot like the Google Now Launcher, but once you jump into the settings you will find a huge variety of ways to customize the look of your home screen. You can adjust almost everything, from the layout of your app drawer, to the look and feel of your folders. You can even download icon sets and change the icon images of your apps! Nova gives you the ability to make your homescreen uniquely yours, and offers incredible potential for customization if you’re the kind of person who loves to tinker and tweak their phone to perfection.
Action Launcher 3
Cost: Free / $4.99 for premium
Like Nova Launcher, Action Launcher 3 offers you a wide range of customizations. It has many of the options you can find in Nova Launcher, plus a few unique tricks of its own. One such function is the ability to create what they call “Shutters”. Shutters allow you to swipe up on an app icon to open up its widget. You can now free up some space on your homescreen, but still have quick access to those widgets you find useful. You can also create a drawer on the right side of your screen, where once again you can place widgets and shortcuts. Keep things simple on your home screen, then swipe right to quickly access your most used apps.
Action Launcher allows you to add a lot of functionality to your home screen without making it cluttered. If you are looking for a minimalist setup that doesn’t sacrifice functionality, then Action Launcher 3 may be the top choice for you.
Does the idea of endless choices and customizations seem daunting to you? Maybe you want a Launcher that works right out of the box, while still creating a unique experience? Aviate Launcher does just that. Aviate will set up categories for your apps, and allow you to easily access the apps you use the most. Not only that, it will change the apps it displays based on your location, keeping productivity apps in the forefront while at work, then letting you relax with the CraveTV app when you get home. Aviate’s default home screen integrates with your calendar, social media and many other apps to create a functional and really good looking dashboard.
Aviate is quick and easy to set up, and ready to go almost the instant you install it. It also helps that it looks awesome! If you want something simple with a bit of a personal touch and functionality, Aviate checks all of those boxes.
Ok so maybe you want something easy to set up, but with a bit more flair than what Aviate provides. Don’t worry, there is a launcher for that too. Buzz Launcher offers all of the endless customization options found in the other launchers, but you can also choose presets made by others. From the super colourful to the minimalist, you can easily change your homescreen on the fly, just click apply on the theme you like, and you’re good to go.
The bottom line
Maybe none of these launchers seem like the right choice for you. Many people love the default launchers that ship with your favourite Bell Smartphone, which are completely functional and often have their own unique features. The launchers we’ve reviewed are just a select few of literally hundreds of options. Just jump to the Play Store and see what else is out there. The bottom line is that with the right launcher, your phone can truly become a device that is even more uniquely yours.