One of the motifs I continually touch upon when it comes to Android trumping iOS is the serious lack of customization options to be found on the iOS platform. Partly due to the lack of third-party developers, and partly due to the fact that iOS forbids aesthetic changes, this week’s focus lies solely on Android home screen launchers.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with launchers, they are third-party applications that install over your stock Android home screen to give you a different look and feel. They bring boundless customization options to the table in an effort to spice up the sometimes blasé home screen: this is an app that no iOS user will ever be able to use.
If you are hesitant about taking the leap into unfamiliar territory, remember that the non-free launchers offer free trials to get your feet wet. Therefore, you can try out some different options before deciding to buy one, choose a free option, or stick with the stock Android home screen. The only potential downside to any of the free launchers is third-party ads.
This week’s top 10 Android launchers are:
- 91 Launcher (free): Aside from the 91 built-in themes (hence the name) this launcher provides wallpapers, new page transitions, and quick drawer transitions. It has the typical widgets pre-installed like the clock and weather, but it also offers extended widget options like a flashlight and one-key garbage cleanup.
- ADWLauncher EX ($3.00): Compatible with Android versions 1.6 through 4.1, ADWLauncherEX differs from its counterpart ADW.Launcher in that it has 10 different 3D app drawer styles, icon configuration, one-click save feature, and backup and restoration options should you need it.
- Apex Launcher Pro ($3.99): The unlimited drawer tab option is an in-house favorite, rising high above the stock Android one tab feature. Aside from its handy notification extension, Apex offers enhanced folder support like batch add and merging options as well as multiple built-in gesture triggers.
- Buzz Launcher (free): One of the more stylish launchers on the list, Buzz Launcher’s biggest feature is the sharing, creation, and application of home screens. There are over 80,000 screens to choose from and one-touch upload for your own creations, and it is compatible with other customization apps.
- Everything Home (free): Do not be put off by the fact that Everything Home is still in beta: this is the freshest new face on the block. If you type in sushi, your phone will instantly display relevant locations, apps, and themes. This same seamless adaptation applies to everything, even James Bond.
- Go Launcher EX (free): This Android launcher has been around since the beginning and is currently the choice of over 100 million users. Enjoy buttery screen transitions, the 15 perfected widgets, and the over 10,000 built-in theme customization options.
- Launcher 8 (free): Launcher 8 turns your Android home screen into the dynamic interface showcased on Windows-powered devices. You can add the live tiles like a Windows phone, but you can breathe life into the typical blue background by theming it woody style, or adding widgets as tiles.
- Next Launcher 3D ($15.99): The philosophy behind this launcher is to ditch the 2D. Aside from being one of the most heavily customizable options on the list, the 3D effects and dazzling screen switches are mind-blowing. Combine different themes to suit your fancy and fully customize all app icons to master your new home screen.
- Nova Launcher Prime ($4.00): Nova remains one of the most productive launchers on the list. It hits on all the aforementioned features, like themes, widgets, and transitions, but it excels in the world of organization. The launcher is performance driven to reduce lag, and it features clutter removal, drawer groups, and a top-notch notification extension.
- Smart Launcher Pro ($3.99): Elegantly simple, Smart Launcher Pro is a minimalist interface which allows users to launch any application with only a few keys. Do not confuse minimalist with under-featured, though. Smart Launcher has everything you need plus insanely smooth screen transitions and quick search functions.