You know that time when you buy an Android device, but moments later you realize you hate the interface? It’s either too complicated, too simple, too laggy, too cartoonish or too… not you. Type in ‘home replacement‘ in the Play Store and you’re presented with thousands of unneeded options. What are the most used ones out there? Read on to find out.
A home replacement app, more commonly called a launcher, is an app that changes your home screen and your app drawer interface. That’s basically it. However, it does not change the notification bar, the UI elements and the stuff that the supplier includes. The interface is something that you’ll have to stick with for the rest of your device’s lifetime – unless you root it and flash a custom ROM.
Chameleon Launcher for Tablets (Php162.21, download here) – Not yet really the best among the crowd, but we really needed to note this one because of the attention it got. This one first started as a Kickstarter project and it got funded because of its genius.
Chameleon is meant to clean the tablet interface with the most useful widgets, the simplest wallpapers/elements and all that. It’s somehow the best we’ve seen for tablets, but it’s very buggy as of now. It lags at certain points of the interface even when run on high-end specs. Give the launcher some time, and the developers will surely turn this thing into a beast.
GO Launcher EX (Free, download here) – Probably, when you type “launcher” into the search bar, this is the most abundant result that you will find. Go Launcher is known for its high capability of personalization.
There are a lot of add-ons for this launcher, ranging from widgets to themes. It’s one of the pioneers of the launcher industry, and that explains the extremely large ecosystem for it. Most of the people who get accustomed to it will use it for a long time, even when your device upgrades.
The Go Dev Team is expanding, with Go Launcher for Pad (Free, download here), which doesn’t compare to its phone counterpart, and Next Launcher 3D (Php650.36, download here), which is aimed at the people who like eye-candy and 3D animations, but isn’t still quite as functional as Go Launcher EX itself.
Nova Launcher (Free, Prime for 162.69, download here) – For Android 4.0+ devices, Nova aims at a more customizable stock experience. It has a competitor which basically acts the same, Apex Launcher (Free, Pro for Php162.51, download here), however Nova does some things better such as backup.
The launcher includes all the things you would expect such as animations, icon options and the like. Further features can be unlocked by paying for the Prime version.
TSF Shell (Php683.19, download here) – Not really the cheapest nor the most accessible one out there, but TSF’s launcher creates a different take on the traditional launcher. It’s not bent on creating excessive visuals, and it doesn’t create a too simple nor too cluttered experience.
They’ve made the elements very unique, such as the relocation of the dock and the app drawer. It does the basic things that all the other launchers do, and it’s totally worth it if you want a fresh and different Android experience.
A lot of launchers were good in the early days of Android. Some of them were even personal favorites but they eventually lost support and development. Most of them are still good for use however, due to their low consumption of RAM and all that, but their design schemes are at lost now, especially since we moved away from Gingerbread.
Some other launchers try to emulate Windows Phone & iOS, but then again, they lack in functionality. If only some launchers would adapt different feels, yet pack competitive features, maybe we could have included them in this list.
In this time, I personally feel the decreasing need of launchers especially since new Android versions are big improvements – not to mention the improving skins of Android OEMs such as Sense & TouchWiz. However, if you’re one of those buyers who just wants to hide your manufacturer’s bloatware and additions, a launcher is one of the decisions to consider.