Five Android Launchers We Love to Use
You might be wondering when we made our “25 Mobile Apps You Need to Download” post yesterday that a category is missing: Home replacement apps, or launchers in layman terms. We felt it deserve another post, so here are a few of those launcher apps that can actually make your everyday smartphone fiddling easy and intuitive.
Way back in early 2013, we made a list of some of our top Android home replacements. It’s been awhile since we actually made one, and we thought it’d be nice to update that list with all the new launchers sprouting out of the Google Play Store. We’re deviating away from the popular ones (ADW, Nova, Apex, etc) as well as those we featured last year, and present other home replacement apps that deserve a second look and a try on your smartphones. Apps are listed in alphabetical order.
Man, Aviate’s one of the best launchers around for me. I find the interface very dynamic and productive and thus won as my default launcher. A swipe will bring you to a list of applications segregated into categories, and that helped me a lot compared to locating a huge list of apps, saving me time in the process. Another section adapts to whatever you’re currently doing and will present a section of apps and control widgets that are useful such as listening, working, or even eating at a fancy restaurant. A swipe from the bottom will also launch a list of your quick contacts, and it’s a very handy tool to contact the ones you love the most whenever there is a need to.
If you want an Mi4 interface feel to your phone or an iOS-like theme without actually downloading Apple-themed launchers, this is one of the closest interface experiences you can get. MIUI Express Launcher is a standalone launcher made by Xiaomi for Android phones. It includes themes, lockscreen, wallpapers, effects, icons, fonts, and access to some of Xiaomi’s apps like the MI App Market. It might eat up a lot of space in your storage though: The APK file itself is at around 18.8MB.
While most seem to have a hard time trying out Nokia’s new launcher due to restrictions, I went through the dev route and sideloaded the apk file into my smartphone a few days ago to try out the new home replacement app everyone’s talking about. To summarize my experience, the Z launcher is minimal, it’s fast, and it’s really good. Like Aviate, most apps and a few contacts I use are on the home screen and changes over time. Gestures are the star of the show, searching every nook and cranny of your phone with every letter swiped on the screen. A few times, straight swipes may sometimes be read as gestures, and it may hamper everyday smartphone use. The app will surely improve over time as it is launched in beta, nevertheless it’s a great home replacement app you can try.
For the elderly and the kids, here’s one good launcher I’d really recommend: Wiser is a launcher with big icons and cards acting as home panes. you can set featured applications and contacts on the homepage for easy access. Nifty animations are also prominent in this one. You would surely appreciate the traditional dial tones when you press on huge numbers on the dial screen. Reminded me of my old Nokia phone. Ah, good times.
Rounding up this year’s list is Zero, which its company touted as one of the lightest and fastest home replacement apps out on the market right now. Compared to other launchers, this actually consumes smaller storage (below 2MB when downloaded and installed) and eats less memory than other launchers in the Google Play Store. This is pretty useful for phones with smaller RAM capacities and want to change the stock launcher present in their devices. Like the MIUI Launcher, there are no app drawers and your apps are put into folders. By default, a toggle bar will be present in your notification bar, and a 3D glass-like swivel is set as the transition. A swipe up brings the launcher’s menu, enabling you to change screen preferences and customize the launcher to however you see it fit. A booster is also present within the launcher, helping you clear out RAM space (or whatever it’s used for. Sorry, not a fan of cleaners).
What’s your home replacement app? We’d love to hear what you’ve been using. Recommend your own launcher app below on the comments section.
Author’s note: I’ve personally tried the launchers over time, and screenshots were done just today.