Many an enthusiast would argue that the cornerstone of the Android operating system itself is freedom; that being a freedom to choose from a variety of hardware manufacturers to find the device that suits you best in every way, as well as freedom to then take that device (and its software) and modify it to your hearts content. Android can be bent, twisted and shaped to your liking and desires entirely. And nowhere is that more apparent than the most frequently used part of the Android User Experience; the homescreen.
The homescreen is meant to be a reflection of the device owner in many ways, which is why it is, at its core, so malleable. Don't like the heavy cartoonish skin that the OEM has slapped on, or think that stock Android is too basic to reflect your creative side? Change it! There's a plethora of fantastic Android launchers out there which endow you with the potential to mould your device to your will: and today, we're going to look at the 5 best launchers currently available for your Android device.
5: Evie Launcher
If you haven't heard of Evie Launcher yet, you should have. It's a newcomer to the launcher scene but it's making plenty of noise, and developing an ardent fanbase due to its claim to fame; it's light and its fast. The launcher itself is fairly barebones, built atop a base that's akin to the Pixel Launcher, and it zips through Android like it's no one's business. Furthermore, this launcher is gestures galore; if you can do it, Evie Launcher has a gesture for it. A number of these, such as swiping down to search or double tap to turn off the screen, saved me a lot of time and grief while performing regular tasks in my time testing it out. You can customise the launcher quite a bit with icon pack and accent support; so all in all, it's a cohesive package and a very impressive show from a newcomer. Also, just look at that app drawer.
4: Action Launcher
Action Launcher serves as the middle ground between something that is as simple as an existing launcher platform with additional functionality built in top like Lawnchair and clear canvases like Nova Launcher that allow you to shape your homescreen to your liking. Action Launcher looks stock at first, but as soon as you delve into features like Quicktheme (which adjusts UI accents and colours to your wallpaper) or Shutters (shows you an apps widget without placing it on your homescreen), you'll never go back. It also prides itself on including the UI changes and features that you'd expect on the next version of Android, as to aid our brothers in need who won't be getting an update; examples of this being Adaptive Icons, Notification Previews, and App Shortcuts All things considered, Action Launcher remains a solid compromise between the two directions of Android launchers.
3: Nova Launcher
Nova Launcher has probably been around since long before any of you started using Android; it made its debut on the Play store around 6 years ago, and has managed to stay amongst the top launchers on Android consistently since day 1. It builds upon a familiar looking but fairly blank Android launcher base, but as you'll quickly discover from taking a look through settings, it includes more features than you could hope to count. It supports gesture control, icon packs, full backups and essentially any form of customisation you can think of. Even small things like subgrid positioning and widget overlap can make the difference in tying together the perfect homescreen. Nova is simple, it's quick and it's insanely versatile; allowing you to build beautiful and personal themes that work the way you do. And did we mention we're giving away 40 codes for Nova Launcher Prime?
This one is for you Pixel purists out there. If you want a more customisable and flexible version of the Pixel launcher without having to go to the trouble of rooting, look no further than Lawnchair. It builds upon the base of the Pixel launcher, with the familiar pill-shaped Google search icon, the translucent dock and the swipe-up app drawer; however, that's where the similarities end. Unlike the stock Pixel launcher, with Lawnchair you have the ability to tweak everything from icon sizes and app names to the presence of the integral Google Feed. It's fast, stable, and arguably rather beautiful. While it may not be as feature rich as Nova Launcher, it's definitely a solid option, and remains flexible and customisable enough for most of us to get the perfect Pixel experience on our devices; the one that's just right.
Note: you'll also need Lawnfeed to make the Google Feed function if using the Google Play version.
1: Microsoft Launcher
I can see you gasping in shock at reading that name. Microsoft Launcher? The best on Android? How could this be?!
I think if it was me two months ago reading this, I would be pretty surprised too. However, after trying it out again, I can testify to how Microsoft's take on the Android launcher is probably the best Android launcher experience out there right now.
This rechristened app was originally a Microsoft Garage project (meaning an employee made it in their spare time and pitched it to Microsoft), and it did something that I really wanted to see; managed to integrate Microsoft's services with the Android experience we all know and love. Other than that, the ability to quickly jump to whatever I need, such as contacts or a Word document, really helped sweeten the deal for me (as it did with many users). While it had some holes and issues at the time of release, which caused me to replace it after a few days, I still maintained a certain fondness for it.
To say that I was happy to see that Microsoft had taken the launcher off the backburner and integrated it as one of their core mobile apps is an understatement. And that rebrand bought a ton of improvements. The addition of Fluent Design elements, the now-seamless integration with all the Microsoft services I use and constant, frequent updates made it a no-brainer for me. Plus, don't think it isn't customisable; icon packs, accent colours, gestures and more features are supported. This is the perfect launcher for the fallen Windows Phone warrior; and if you're an Android purist, I'd still advise giving it a try. It might surprise you.
To conclude, all of these launchers are fantastic products which are smooth, beautiful, bring something unique to the table, and allow for a great Android experience that you can personalise to your liking. It goes without saying that no one of these launchers is objectively better than another, and each launcher's feature set will work for someone or the other – so don't worry too much about their position on the list. Take what works for you.
What do you guys think? Did we miss something? What's your favourite Android Launcher?? Tell us what you think in the comments.