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August 13, 2017

The best launcher for Android, and nine alternatives

by John_A

One of Android’s main strengths has always been customization. You can tinker and tweak until you realize the home screen of your dreams. The easiest and most straightforward way to completely change up the aesthetic of your interface is to employ an Android launcher. With a launcher you can change the color scheme, icons, backgrounds, and lots of other details to define your ideal home screen, app drawer, and widget combo. But just what is the best launcher for Android? Read on to find our top pick and nine alternatives worth trying out.

If you’re into Android customization you should also check out the best free live wallpapers for Android, the best Android widgets, and maybe even look into rooting your Android phone.

The best launcher for Android

Nova Launcher

The Nova Launcher offers an excellent array of different features, allowing you to quickly achieve an elegant look without compromising on performance. You can change animations, colors, layouts, icons, and more. Spring $5 for the Prime version and you can customize gestures, unlock extra scroll effects, and more, but the free version should be enough for most people to create the precise look and feel they’re craving. There’s even a way to get the Google feed to show up on the left of the home screen, just like on the Google Now Launcher.

Google Play Store

And the rest

Hola Launcher

Rather than bring new features to your mobile device, the Hola Launcher optimizes from the inside-out to ensure the best possible user experience. It will help you to identify bloatware and uninstall useless apps to improve battery life. Best of all, its rotary-style UI elegantly switches between your favorite Android apps and quick access shortcuts, making it possible to handle phablets with just one hand.

Google Play Store

Z Launcher Beta

Why waste time scrolling through an endless list of apps or tap out the name of the app you’re looking for, when there is an even more intuitive way to search through your mobile device? Simply draw the first letter of your desired app with your finger, and Z Launcher will figure out a list of apps that matches your on-screen scribble. Besides simplifying search, this Nokia-developed launcher also learns your most often used apps and brings them to your home screen.

Google Play Store

Action Launcher: Pixel Edition ($5)

If you’re still waiting for your upgrade to Android Nougat, then you might consider dropping $5 to get the Action Launcher: Pixel Edition. It offers some of the some of the best features of the Google Pixel Launcher, like the Google Pill and round icons. You’ll also be able to enjoy gesture controls and app shortcuts.

Google Play Store

Go Launcher

Go Launcher is another extremely popular, highly customizable launcher that lets you revamp almost every aspect of the home screen. Go Launcher offers not only a bare-bones Android-style launcher, but also an extremely popular theme system that users can download new themes from. There are hundreds of these themes available on the Play Store, and they come in all sorts of styles.

Google Play Store

Launcher 8 WP Style

Laucher 8 WP Style is good if you’re a fan of the vertical style and block-based nature of Windows 10. It gives the look of the tile-based Windows Modern UI, but without losing all the functionality of Android. You can customize using the standard Windows Modern UI color pallet, or you can add your own custom colors into the mix.

Google Play Store

Yahoo Aviate Launcher

More a caring assistant than a traditional mobile launcher, Yahoo Aviate is all about anticipating your needs over the course of a day. The launcher automatically reorganizes your home screen to put your most used apps at different times and in different locations, right at your fingertips when you need them.

Google Play Store

Apex Launcher

Apex Launcher is for control freaks who love tweaks and customization. Mess with the size of just about everything and the gesture commands to get your ideal experience. A power user’s dream, Apex isn’t just easy to modify, it runs extremely smoothly as well.

Google Play Store

Arrow Launcher

Arrow Launcher from Microsoft offers a simple and beautiful way to customize your Android experience. The launcher has three home pages: a People page with contacts, an Apps page with frequent and new apps, and a Notes page with all your reminders.  Arrow will also change your wallpaper automatically if you want.

Google Play Store

C Launcher

C Launcher is all about speed and optimization. It does everything it can to reduce battery drain on your device, monitoring performance and keeping everything streamlined. A built-in clean up feature eliminates clutter and unnecessary files that build up over time and start to lag the device, and an app installer makes it easy to get rid of apps you long stopped using.

Google Play Store




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