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Apple Seeds Second Beta of iOS 11.1 to Developers With New Emoji

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming iOS 11.1 update to developers, nearly two weeks releasing the first iOS 11.1 beta and a few weeks after releasing the iOS 11 update to the public.

Registered developers can download the iOS 11 beta from Apple’s Developer Center or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Developer Center.

Apple said the second beta of iOS 11.1 introduces a range of new Unicode 10 emoji like crazy face, pie, pretzel, t-rex, vampire, exploding head, face vomiting, shushing face, love you gesture, brain, scarf, zebra, giraffe, fortune cookie, pie, hedgehog, and more.

A few other small features were discovered in the initial iOS 11.1 beta. The built-in keyboard in iOS 11.1 now offers up multiple emoji symbols when using an emoji-related word like “cake” or “happy,” with each of the suggestions displayed at the end of the predictive text suggestions. There’s also an updated camera icon under Restrictions, a new animation when tapping the status bar to scroll upwards, and a faster unlock animation.

iOS 11 marks a major update to the operating system with systemwide design tweaks, a new Lock screen experience, a revamped Control Center, ARKit, new app features, and an entirely new interface for the iPad that includes a Dock, Drag and Drop support, and a redesigned App Switcher for better than ever multitasking.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
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Apple Seeds Second Beta of watchOS 4.1 to Developers

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming watchOS 4 update to developers for testing purposes, nearly two weeks after releasing the first watchOS 4.1 beta and three weeks after releasing the new watchOS 4 operating system to the public.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the new watchOS 4 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software update.

To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone.

The watchOS 4.1 update introduces support for streaming Apple Music content directly to the Apple Watch Series 3 over LTE and it brings a new Radio app with access to Beats 1 and other Apple Music radio stations.

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While the Music app on the watch looks the same, offering up access to the Music Library, recently played songs, playlists, and Apple Music mixes, but now all Apple Music content can be streamed over an LTE connection and doesn’t need to be downloaded to the device.

Support for Apple Music streaming appears to be the main feature in the new watchOS 4.1 update, but Apple is also introducing new Unicode 10 emoji characters.

watchOS 4 is a significant refresh of the watchOS operating system introducing new watch faces, including a personalized Siri face, improvements to the Workout app, support for integration with gym equipment, an Apple News app, a vertical Dock, and a new Flashlight feature in the Control Center.

For more on what’s included in watchOS 4, check out our watchOS 4 roundup.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Seeds Second macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 Beta to Developers

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra update to developers, a week and a half after releasing the first macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 beta and two weeks after releasing the new High Sierra operating system to the public.

The second macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 beta can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 appears to focus on bug fixes, performance improvements, security enhancements, and other under-the-hood changes, but it also introduces a range of new Unicode 10 emoji like crazy face, pie, pretzel, t-rex, vampire, exploding head, face vomiting, shushing face, love you gesture, brain, scarf, zebra, giraffe, fortune cookie, pie, hedgehog, and more.

macOS High Sierra is a major update that introduces APFS, a new more modern file system, HEIF and HEVC photo and video encoding improvements for smaller file sizes without compromising quality, Metal 2, and several new features for Safari, like autoplay blocking for videos and Intelligent Tracking Prevention to better protect user privacy.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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Apple Seeds Second Beta of tvOS 11.1 to Developers

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming tvOS 11.1 update to developers for testing purposes, a week and a half after seeding the first tvOS 11.1 update and three weeks after releasing tvOS 11 to the public.

Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models, the tvOS 11.1 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV via a profile that’s installed using Xcode on the Mac.

The tvOS 11.1 update appears to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements rather than outward-facing design changes, and no new features were found in the first beta. Should anything new surface in the second tvOS 11.1 beta, we’ll update this post.

tvOS 11 introduces features like full support for AirPods, automatic switching between light and dark mode based on local time, Home screen syncing options designed to keep multiple Apple TVs in a single household in sync, and new background modes and notification support.

Related Roundup: Apple TVBuyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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How to edit a PDF, with or without Adobe Acrobat

The commonplace PDF format remains a great way to quickly compile and publish electronic information. The hard part comes when you try to change anything inside the PDF: They aren’t really designed for editing, and you need special software to tweak the content. That’s why we’ve got the best three options for how to edit a PDF when you really need to make important changes.

Option 1: Using Adobe Acrobat

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The PDF format was created by Adobe, so it makes sense to turn to Adobe Acrobat apps when editing PDF files. There are advantages to this method too, since Adobe’s editing tools tend to be the most powerful and the easiest way to make large changes quickly. However, access to these tools has become more difficult over time, as Adobe has moved toward its current subscription model and locked most tools behind paywalls.

To use this method, you will need access to Adobe Document Cloud (DC). If your company/budget already pays for an Adobe subscription, this is no problem – just go into Acrobat and follow the steps. If you don’t have access to Adobe DC, things get more complicated. If you have a one-off PDF project that you really need to edit, you can start a free trial of Adobe DC and gain temporary access to the tools you need without investing in long term costs.

Step 1: In Adobe Acrobat, head to File and Open the PDF file that you want to edit. The content should appear in your Acrobat window.

Step 2: Look for the Edit PDF tool, which should be a selection in the right-side selection of tools. Select it to move to an interactive mode that allows you to select PDF content.

Step 3: Make your changes. You can edit text, look for spelling errors, resize most elements (use the Objects tools here), and much more. Background, Link, Header and other toolsets all apply here, allowing you to pretty much whatever you want. It’s also worth noting that Adobe has mobile app versions of this software if you need to work on the go. The app is also one of the best places if you need to print a PDF.

Note: If you don’t mind paying for a more permanent version of the service, prices for the standard version start at $13 per month—there is no permanent license option if you want to edit PDFs. There is a free PDF viewer version of the software with far, far fewer capabilities if you’re more interested in reading PDF content than changing it.

Option 2: Using a third-party app

Web apps provide a variety of fast PDF editing options, usually for free, and available to use or download with a quick trip to your browser. While these tools are more limited than Adobe’s offering, they are an ideal solution for simpler edits or edits away from other more reliable software. There are many apps with PDF editing capabilities, but we’ll list a few of our favorites to help you get started.


If your goal is to move around PDF pages to form more complex documents, then PDFsam is all you need. It’s an extraction tool that you can use to pull out and switch around any PDF pages within a file or between various PDF files to build the document that you need. You can split PDFs via bookmark, size, or customized page limit, and rotate pages as necessary.

PDFsam’s layout is simple and easy to understand for beginners. However, it deals solely in moving content around your PDFs, useful when publishing larger documents and creating outgoing PDF messages quickly. However, it’s not much good if you want to dive down deep and alter colors, fix resolution, address spelling mistakes, and so on. There is an enhanced version of the software that adds more editing functions in an additional free download, but this option is more complex, and will take longer for newcomers to learn. If you are only interested in merging many PDFs together, check out the best software for merging.

PDF Xchange Suite

This free download comes with the PDF-Xchange Editor and Editor Plus, which together provide a long list of things you can do to PDF pages—in some ways even more complete than Adobe Acrobat. You can split, merge, edit, spellcheck, translate to other languages, add comments, and inset external links…and that’s just to begin with. The software also includes plugins for Javascript engines, file backups, image embedding, custom stamps, working with Google Drive, and a whole other set of features that come when you buy an advanced license.

In other words, you can probably find the right tool to do exactly what you want to a PDF file. The downside is that it might take a while to learn and locate precisely what you need, especially when first using the software. The app’s also starting to show its age these days, so prepare to meet the interface halfway in some respects.


PDFescape is a web-only app that supports common browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. It has more usability than PDFsam, but remains an extra-simple free tool for quick work. Plop a PDF file into the site (limited to 10MB and 100 pages, so no large projects accepted here), and you have a number of options to complete basic tasks. That includes editing text sections of the file, creating new PDF forms within the file, annotating the document, and applying password protection to the file. It’s a good tool to use once most the detailed work has been done, but when the layout and content still need to be tweaked. Upgrading to a paid version of the app gives you bigger limits, a downloadable app, and no interfering ads.

Option 3: Converting the PDF file

This option is available if you aren’t comfortable with PDFs, or if you need to do a lot of detailed work without learning new apps. Convert the PDF into a different format and work on it in software that is more comfortable or more suited to your needs. The issue, of course, is that PDF conversion can be hit-or-miss: Markup, text and image positioning may all be different.

We suggest starting with a dedicated PDF converter like Able2Extract Professional 11, which allows you to convert PDFs into CSV, Word, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, and even Excel formats, among other choices. It also allows you to convert back to PDF once you are done—a somewhat safer process than the first conversion step.

If you plan on converting PDFs no matter what, you could also stick with Adobe Acrobat. Adobe allows you to convert PDFs to Word, Excel or PowerPoint within Acrobat. If possible, this is a great choice, because Adobe’s format conversion tends to be more accurate than most. For other conversion options, check out how to convert a Kindle book to PDF. and how to turn webpages into PDFs for sharing.

Updated on October 2, 2017 by Tyler Lacoma. Adobe options, third party apps, and conversion options were updated with current guides.


Microsoft VP confesses Windows 10 Mobile is effectively finished

Why it matters to you

Microsoft isn’t planning to add new features to Windows 10 Mobile. Android and iOS continue to be updated, and are therefore recommended.

Microsoft’s vice president of operating systems, Joe Belfiore, has made the company’s position regarding Windows 10 Mobile clear in a series of revelatory tweets. “Building new features/hardware [isn’t] the focus,” wrote Belfiore, confirming what most already knew, and Microsoft fans already feared: The Windows 10 Mobile operating system is effectively dead.

The conversation started with a tweet to Belfiore asking if it was time to leave the Windows Mobile platform. He replied with a message saying companies still hand them out, and Microsoft will support the software; but then he confessed that he has already switched mobile systems. Although he doesn’t clarify which one he switched to, he mentions hardware diversity as a driving factor, indicating it’s Google Android.

Windows 10 Mobile and its faithful few fans haven’t been completely abandoned, and are promised updates to fix bugs or close security exploits, but no new features or devices are seemingly planned at all. Belfiore bemoans the lack of apps, a major factor in Windows 10 Mobile (and Windows Phone) losing out to Android and iOS. He says Microsoft paid developers, and assisted with writing apps to incentivize developers, but the “volume of users is too low for most companies to invest,” he adds.

At the end of last year, Windows Phone had a mere 0.7 percent of the global smartphone operating system market, and Windows 10 Mobile held only 14 percent of that figure. The majority of device owners still used Windows Phone 8.1. Since then, the Alcatel Idol 4S is almost the only new, consumer-focused, Windows 10 Mobile device to launch. If Microsoft isn’t going to release new versions of the software, or push hardware itself, other manufacturers probably won’t produce new devices either. Microsoft is fully aware it has completely lost the smartphone battle. Belfiore says, “a huge, huge majority” of those who use Windows computers, Xbox, or Office have a phone that doesn’t run Windows.

What does this mean for the Surface Phone, a repeatedly rumored device supposedly coming to save Windows 10 Mobile from absolutely obscurity? Rumors have spread for years, but no device has ever been previewed or released. When Digital Trends met with Microsoft’s VP of devices, Panos Panay, to introduce the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, he said there has always been a vision for the Surface line, although the exact products the range would contain has never been set in stone. However, now that no further investment is being made in Windows 10 Mobile hardware, if the Surface Phone ever existed, it’s unlikely to be completed and released.


From 3D letters to modern, ‘flat’ design, here’s the history of the Google logo

The colorful Google colorful logo is one of the most recognizable pieces of branding on the internet — but it’s gone through some big changes over the last two decades.

While the company found the basic concept for its logo fairly quickly, the design has been iterated upon several times. Here’s a look back.

Humble Beginnings

The very first version of the Google logo was never going to win any design awards. Seemingly created using Microsoft Word, it’s a real reminder of just how ugly the early internet could be.

In its defense, this logo was only put in place while the search engine was still a research project carried out by  Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. Once the pair decided to launch Google officially, Brin whipped up a better design himself using the popular open-source image editing package GIMP.

As you can see, several elements of the now-familiar design are already in place. The color order is a little different, but that would be amended in a new version that was used from October 1998 onward.

This iteration uses the Baskerville Bold typeface, like its predecessor, but tweaks the 3D effect on the lettering, and adds an exclamation point — a response to Yahoo’s similar branding at that time, according to a report from Gizmodo.

While it’s long since been replaced as Google’s primary branding, this logo is actually still in use. If you travel back in time by searching for ‘Google in 1998,’ you’ll see it featured as part of a special throwback interface.

Intelligent Design

As Google grew in notoriety, the decision was made to upgrade its branding. Page and Brin decided to call upon the services of designer Ruth Kedar, who made her name creating widely lauded sets of playing cards, and by the late 1990s she was installed as a member of the art faculty at Stanford.

Kedar produced a number of different concepts for the new version of the logo. Many of them used imagery to express core components of the Google experience, like a target to evoke its precision, or a magnifying glass to make sure it was obvious that it was a search engine.

These designs show things falling into place. The basic color scheme is there, albeit with some minor edits. The top two examples even use Catull, the typeface that would be used in the logo for over a decade.

Of course, none of the logos above made the cut. The company decided that adding too much visual flair would ultimately turn out to be restrictive. “This is where we started simplifying,” Kedar explained in a 2008 interview with Wired. “The idea was, ‘Can we create the sense of playfulness without having recognizable or identifiable objects that are going to end up limiting us?’”


Above, you can see the design that was selected. It was in use from May 31, 1999, to May 5, 2010 — the company’s longest serving logo to this day. This was the branding that carried Google to the top of the search engine market, but the changing face of the internet eventually forced the company to change its long-standing look.

Going flat

In the past decade, we’ve seen all kinds of companies replace detailed logos with newer iterations based around flat blocks of color. Google can count itself among that number, but its transition took place in two distinct stages.


After changing to brighter colors and a more subdued shadow effect in 2010, Google made big changes to its branding in 2013. The 3D effect on the lettering was completely eliminated, and some minor typographic changes were made — note the tweak made to the way the straight line meets the curve on the ‘e’.

This iteration would turn out to be a relatively minor revision, however, compared to what was coming two years later; a brand new typeface.


Google created this font, which is called Product Sans, in-house. It highlights the lack of shadow and the high contrast of colors in the logo, while also providing a more modern font appearance that doesn’t look like something that might be cranked out with a typewriter. This has become the Silicon Valley trend, used by everyone from Microsoft to Motorola.

A slightly amended version is also used in the logo for its parent company, Alphabet.


The latest Google logo maintains the visual identity of its predecessor, but the new typeface makes it look more modern. Its accompanied by a version of the stylized ‘G’ character that’s used for app icons and the like.


What’s next for Google’s branding? Only time will tell. But if there’s one thing that we can learn from the changes made to its logo over the last twenty years, it’s that the company isn’t afraid to tweak things to keep up with the times.


Google Pixel 2 XL vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Big phones, big prices


For some people, price isn’t a deal-breaker for a high-end phone.

Google’s Pixel 2 XL is the new hotness, and with its fresh specs and features it’s picked up a price bump that puts it on another level to compete with only the most expensive phones available today. Starting at $849 it’s darn close to the price of the just-released Galaxy Note 8, but that’s not where the similarities end. These are two big, high-performance smartphones, and they’ll surely be going head-to-head in a few people’s minds as they go to buy a new phone.

So we’re here to talk about how the Pixel 2 XL stacks up against the Galaxy Note 8, and hopefully give you the information you need to know which one is right for you.

What’s the same

The Galaxy Note 8 is often referred to as being a really big phone — and that’s because it is. The Pixel 2 XL isn’t actually far from it, though. The Note 8 is 4.6 mm taller than the Pixel 2 XL, but roughly 2 mm narrower and about the same thickness. The difference in screen size is negligible, with the Note 8’s 6.3-inch display mostly just adding a little bit of usable height with its 18.5:9 aspect ratio to the 6-inch 18:9 screen on the Pixel 2 XL. The 2 XL’s screen looks really good, but it’s too early to know how it stacks up to the industry-leading panel on the Note 8 — chances are it’ll be close enough for most people, but come up short.

The Pixel 2 XL is closer in size to the Note 8 than most would think.

The only real difference in the feel of these phones is weight, where the Note 8 tacks on a hefty 20 g — and it’s very noticeable. Weight aside, if you think you can manage it, you’re getting a big ‘ol phone with either of these. In order to get that extra screen to look at and interact with, you have to take the trade-off of not being able to easily reach the top of the screen with the phone in one hand.

The similarities continue internally, with both phones having the same Snapdragon 835 processor (though the Note 8 has a comparable Exynos in some regions), and while the Note 8 does have more RAM at 6GB it’s hard to say how much that’s actually noticeable in daily use to the Pixel 2 XL’s 4GB. Perhaps 18 months down the road we’ll have a better idea of that. Storage is also about a wash, with 64GB plus an SD card slot matching up fine for most people to a choice of 64 or 128GB of storage without the complication of an SD card slot. And in one area you can’t see, thankfully Google has matched the water-resistance rating Samsung has been offering phones for years.

The Pixel 2 XL has a slightly larger 3520mAh battery, just 6.5% bigger than the Note 8’s 3300mAh. But any difference in battery life will be coming from the software rather than the raw capacity of the cell — don’t get hung up on 220mAh difference.

What’s different

The biggest differences to be found in this comparison come from looking at the software and seeing Samsung’s consistent core features come through.

Samsung, as we know, loves to have a huge volume of software features and changes, punctuated by its insistence on having all of its own apps and services loaded on the phone. Those often conflict with Google’s (required or otherwise) services, and it can be jarring to users who want a simpler layout. At the same time, if you’re coming from a Samsung phone currently not only will you feel right at home but you’d also be a bit miffed to find there aren’t direct replacements available from Google’s phone. The S Pen and all of its great associated features is a perfect example of this. Does everyone — or even a majority of people — need a highly precise stylus? No. But those who do can only find it on the Note 8.

Samsung’s software can be all things to more people, but the Pixel 2 XL is just so much cleaner.

Starting from scratch with no preexisting notion of what you want from your phone’s software, it’d be tough not to pick Google’s experience on the Pixel 2 XL. The level of polish, speed and integration with its core services is unrivaled in the Android space, and that’s something you can appreciate no matter where you land between the “novice” and “expert” ends of the spectrum. There are just fewer variables and opportunities for frustrations on the Pixel 2 XL, and that’s a big selling point even when you factor in the inherent limitations of having a more barebones set of features.

Samsung took a big leap in camera technology on the Note 8, moving to dual sensors both supported by OIS and some special software to put them to work. It’s hard to argue with what the Note 8’s cameras can do, even if the Portrait mode could use a little work. Google may have just leapfrogged it, though, even with just a single camera. First impressions are that its own Portrait Mode, handled with just one lens, can do much the same job as Samsung without the extra room required for a dual setup. And Google’s image processing paired with a new brighter aperture and OIS should at least match but more than likely surpass what the Note 8 does.

The final two differentiators here come down to audio. The Pixel 2 XL clearly has the lead here with dual front-facing speakers to the Note 8’s single down-firing driver. They’re louder, have stereo separation and aren’t easily covered up with your hand like on the Note 8. On the other hand … there’s no 3.5 mm headphone jack, even though it’s a big phone. Samsung may not offer the best audio quality ever, but being able to plug into your standard headphones and speakers without an annoying dongle is a huge plus.

Bottom line


Much like when we compared the standard Pixel 2 to the Galaxy S8, there’s a whole lot shared between these two phones. If you’re in need of a big phone with lots of screen to work with and high-end specs to power it all, these phones are the right place to start.

Do you want limitless power, or powerful simplicity?

If you already have a Samsung phone, your default choice will be the Note 8 just from a familiarity standpoint. The same goes for anyone who is drawn in by the precise input and tools associated with the powerful S Pen. Aside from its sheer size and weight, there are very few trade-offs to be had here — and you get nice-to-have features like wireless charging and a headphone jack, plus just about any software feature you could imagine.

Coming in with no predisposition to one platform or another, Google’s software and services on the Pixel 2 XL are king. You a get simple, fast and clean experience wrapped up in an equally beautiful and sturdy body filled with great specs you expect for the price. But hey, you don’t get a headphone jack or the mounds of features found on other phones that you could find useful. You do, however, get a fantastic daily experience of using what Google thinks is the best representation of an Android phone.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL hands-on: Act two is great
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Pixel 2 vs iPhone 8: Camera Showdown
  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Google Store
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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • Galaxy Note 8 review
  • Complete Galaxy Note 8 specs
  • Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy Note 5
  • Which Note 8 color is best?
  • Join our Galaxy Note 8 forums

Best Buy


First photos captured on Pixel 2 look fantastic

A gallery of nearly 40 photos/videos from the Pixel 2 surfaced over the weekend, and they look very promising.

We came away quite impressed with our initial hands-on time of Google’s Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL, and while there are a lot of different reasons to be excited about the phones, one of the most promising looks to be the Pixel 2’s camera. An employee at Google recently uploaded around 40 photos and videos to Google Photos that were captured directly on the Pixel 2, and the results are seriously impressive.


The album is filled with a wide variety of different shots, including images captured in low-light settings, portrait mode shots, and a couple examples of just how smooth video capture is thanks to the combination of optical and electronic image stabilization.

It’s difficult to come across a high-end flagship with a lackluster camera these days, but these shots from the Pixel 2 are honestly some of the best I’ve seen from a smartphone so far in 2017. Detail throughout the photos is nice and crisp, the dynamic range is some of the best around, and color reproduction is on point.


Unedited photos captured on the Pixel 2

As a quick refresher, both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL come equipped with a single 12MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture and 1.4μm pixels. Google really touted the portrait mode feature at the Pixel 2’s unveiling on October 4, and although Google is relying solely on software and machine learning as opposed to using two lenses to pull this look off, this move appears to be working towards the company’s favor. The portrait shots found in the gallery aren’t perfect, but at least to my eyes, they’re some of the best I’ve ever seen.

The Pixel 2/Pixel 2 XL are expected to start shipping out on October 17 for those that got their preorders in quickly, but if you need more photos to browse through than what we included above, you can check out the entire gallery here.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL hands-on: Act two is great
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Pixel 2 vs iPhone 8: Camera Showdown
  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Google Store
Project Fi


Nova Launcher joins the 50 million downloads club on Google Play

If you go looking for a new home screen launcher on Android, you’re going to inevitably hear Nova Launcher come up.


Over five years old and boasting more customization and theming prowess than most other launchers combined, Nova Launcher is popular for a reason: it’s awesome. It can emulate the latest phones or kick it old-school if you preferred the Holo days. It draws in the best features from manufacturer launchers and gives users a simple yet insanely customizable canvas on which to theme.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Nova Launcher has surpassed an impressive 50 million downloads on Google Play.


— Nova Launcher (@Nova_Launcher) October 8, 2017

Nova Launcher’s success draws on many, many things, but above them are consistency, support, and innovation. Nova Launcher will turn six years old this December, and in those six years Nova Launcher has certainly changed feature sets, but it has remained a stable and reliable launcher. Nova uses their beta program to iron out kinks and refine new features before they come to the stable version that ships out to regular users. Bleeding edge users can help shape the launcher they love while users looking for a launcher that just works get features only when they’re ready.


Nova Launcher’s support ensures that should bugs arise on a particular model or device range, they are addressed quickly. Their commitment to bringing the latest features like Android Oreo’s notification badges and Adaptive Icons to older Android users means that while system updates may be slow for many, Nova Launcher updates mean they’ll at least get some of the newest Android goodies on their older phones.

To backport the latest features to older versions of Android takes more than a little bit of ingenuity, and while it’s not always possible (or pretty), we can rest assured that if there’s a feasible and stable way to backport features to Nova Launcher on older Android versions, the developers will try. These experiments don’t always work, but most of the time they do, and all of Android reaps the benefits. But bringing the latest Android version features to Nova Launcher isn’t enough. Nova Launcher tries to improve upon the features that it emulates, such as automatically coloring the background layer for Adaptive Icons and coming up with Dynamic Badges before Android Oreo’s notification badges had come along. And while it still requires jumping through hoops, Nova Launcher was one of the first third-party launchers to bring a Google Now page to our home screens.


50 million downloads might not mean 50 million users have Nova Launcher set as their default launcher, but it has a devout following. And so long as that launcher continues to be one of the best damn launchers on Android, I have no doubt in my mind that following will only grow.

After all, Nova Launcher is still king of the mountain.

Nova Launcher (Free, $3.99)

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