Custom Launchers 101
There are many reasons to love Android. The flexibility, ease of use and customisation are beyond compare! One of my favourite features is using a custom launcher. If you’re new to the Android game, this can all sound a little daunting. But not to fear! This article will explain what custom launchers are, the pros and cons of using them and more!
Firstly, what is a custom launcher exactly? Well, when you press your home button, you’re taken to your homescreen, where you organise your favourite apps and widgets. The launcher is the application that contains your homescreen and lets you organise everything. Android being as flexible as it is, allows you to change the built-in applications that govern things like your homescreen with third-party services from the Play Store.
So, why would you want to use one? Generally the default launchers that devices ship with are quite limited. Launchers like Nova allow you to change the grid size, so you can have more apps on one screen, the size of app icons and more. Perhaps the most notable feature is using icon packs. Icon packs theme all the icons on your homescreen to a new design. There are thousands of them available on Google Play, so finding one that suits your taste is almost guaranteed. You can even mix and match different icon sets so that everything is just so.
Various gestures are incorporated into these launchers as well. I have mine set so that if I swipe down on the homescreen, a search bar appears that allows me to search for a specific app on my device. I usually have close to 300 apps installed on my Google Pixel XL, so I use this often!
Another bonus to using a custom launcher is not waiting for the latest and greatest features from Google. If you don’t have a Pixel or Nexus, it can be frustrating to see all the new goodies Google have released, only to wait for months to get them yourself. Now, launchers can’t give you all the new features from a newer Android version. Installing Nova won’t give you multiwindow if you’re still on Marshmallow! But things like app shortcuts, Pixel launcher style dock and more can be easily used on older devices. Even my ancient Galaxy S2 looks like the Pixel at first glance!
Of course, there are some downsides to using custom launchers. Setting them up can be a complicated process, and some have the tendency to be quite buggy. There’s also the lack of Google Now support, although that is starting to change now that Nova has found a way to integrate it. Hopefully other launchers soon follow suit!
So, if you want to freshen up your device with a new look, this is the way to do it! It’s far less complicated than using something like a new ROM, and there absolutely no risk of damaging your device. Search for related communities on Google+ if you’re looking for inspiration, and above all have fun! Get creative and share whatever you come up with on social media. The launcher community is large and diverse. Really, this sums up the Android experience. Be together, not the same!