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7 Great Launcher Apps for an Android Makeover

Launcher apps are one of great advantages Android offers over iOS. If you’re not feeling your homescreen, you can download an app to change it. From the way it looks to the way it interacts with your daily life, you can completely transform your smartphone interface into a personal assistant, with everything working towards making your day run smoother. Virtually everything is customisable, allowing you to make your homescreen as minimalist or as complicated you like.

If you’re looking to get away from the manufacturer UI, here are our seven favourite launcher apps in the Google Play Store right now. 

Nova Launcher

nova-launcher

Nova is the most lauded launcher on Android, and for good reason. A vast array of features – including colour themes, infinite scrolling, app drawer customisations, icon packs, swipe actions and gesture support – are balanced with excellent performance and a sleek material design interface. Despite all of the good stuff on offer, Nova never feels gimmicky and full customisation is very straightforward. The launcher also has cloud service integration, allowing you to backup and restore themes and layouts – ideal for setting up a new phone. TeslaCoil Software, the team behind the launcher, are pretty handy on the development side too; updates are regular and bugs never stick around for long.

For the full list of features, you’ll need to pay the £3.99 for Nova Launcher Prime (it’s worth it); however, if you’d just like to test the waters, the free version is very capable.

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Apex Launcher

apex-launcher

Any list that includes Nova Launcher will inevitably include Apex Launcher too. The two apps are so similar in terms of features and performance that it’s impossible to separate them. Apex has been at the top of the Android tree for a while and continues to deliver a seamless experience. The range of features is vast: nine customisable homescreens, scrollable dock, hidden elements, customisable app drawer, icon packs, cloud integration, infinite and elastic scrolling and much more besides. And that’s just the free version; the pro version offers money-worthy additional features including gesture and dock swipe actions, Android Wear compatibility and the excellent Notifier, which delivers push notifications to your homescreen via a widget. Nexus 7 owners will also be happy to know that Apex allows you to rotate the screen.

Using Apex is like using a different phone. Throw anything you like at it and it won’t give an inch; performance never defaults from smooth as butter.

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Action Launcher 3

All of the apps on this list help to improve Android productivity; none, though do as good a job as Action Launcher at getting you to your apps and content quicker. All of the features that you’d expect from a decent launcher – customisable homescreens and docks, icon packs, scale icons, etc. – are par for the course. Where Action separates itself is in its unique offerings. Shutters and Covers offer innovative ways to bring up folders and widgets; Quickpage acts as an instantly accessible homescreen; Quicktheme uses your wallpaper to automatically customise accents; Quickbar lets you add useful shortcuts to the search bar and Quickedit presents alternative icons to you so you don’t have to go searching for them. The outstanding feature, though, is Quickdrawer, which stores apps in a hidden drawer where they can be accessed with a couple of swipes of your screen. If you have a lot of apps installed on your device, this feature is a God send.

Most people will be more than happy with the free version, but for full functionality, pick up Action Launcher 3 Pro for £2.29.

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Google Now Launcher

google-now-launcher

Because of manufacturer skins like HTC’s Sense and Samsung’s TouchWiz, you never quite get the vanilla android experience that Nexus and Moto G owners love so much. The Google Now Launcher is a way to bring everything back to basics. Google Now isn’t as powerful as Action, Nova or Apex, nor is there a laundry list of customisable features. Instead, what you get is a simple, slick experience that doesn’t eat into your resources. The ‘OK Google’ feature is this launcher’s best, allowing you to execute any number of hands-free commands. Uttering those two simple words kicks your phone into gear and puts it at your beck and call. Google Now, which sits on the left most homescreen is also a very useful companion, providing a range of useful cards based on your habits and preferences, from weather and travel updates to news headlines and live sports scores. And, of course, this being Google means the app is totally free.

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Yahoo! Aviate Launcher

Yahoo! is perhaps best known for being a one-time search giant whose market share was obliterated by the Google juggernaut. The company, however, has its fingers in many tasty pies, including the enormously popular Flickr and Tumblr. Aviate was acquired by Yahoo! a couple of years back for some $80m, which gives you an idea of how highly they rate this launcher. Like Google Now, Aviate values simplicity over customisation. It aims to make your life easier by learning how you use your phone, serving up the things you need, when you need them. Customisable interfaces called Spaces help make everyday things easier. For example, plugging in the headphones will instantly pull up music apps and band information, and when you’re out and about, tips and reviews for nearby places are provided.

The design is clutter-free and screens are easy to navigate, resulting in a very pleasant experience. Oh, and it’s free to download.

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Themer: Launcher

If it’s full customisation you’re looking for, Themer awaits you with open arms. Virtually everything here can be modified to suit your style. Themer revolves around a collection of pre-made themes that complete transform your homescreen. Skin designs range from minimalist to in-your-face, with each fully customisable so you can make it totally unique to you. As Themer and all of its themes are free and can be changed at the click of a button, you’ll never be bored.

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Z Launcher

nokia-z-launcher

Nokia’s transition into the smartphone market might have faltered, but it hasn’t stopped the company producing an exceptional launcher for Android. Don’t let the fact Z Launcher is in beta mode bother you; it’s fully functioning and as robust as a 3310. Rather than overloading you with features, Nokia keeps things simple with one homescreen and one app drawer and a couple of innovative features: Scribble, which lets you doodle a letter on the screen to bring up apps; and Adapt, an intuitive assistant that learns your behaviour and promotes the right stuff at the right time. The more you use Z Launcher, the better it becomes.

Nokia’s launcher is free to download and well worth a look.

Get the app  

Launcher apps are one of great advantages Android offers over iOS. If you’re not feeling your homescreen, you can download an app to change it. From the way it looks to the way it interacts with your daily life, you can completely transform your smartphone interface into a personal assistant, with everything working towards making your day run smoother. Virtually everything is customisable, allowing you to make your homescreen as minimalist or as complicated you like.

If you’re looking to get away from the manufacturer U


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