Everyone knows that the best thing about Android is the fact that it’s so darn customizable. As the adage goes, you can never have too much of a good thing — provided you don’t get overwhelmed by all the choice. Today we’re going to take a look at custom launchers. Which one suits you the best? Have a read (after the break) and be sure to vote in the froum poll!
The stock options
Vanilla Android (2.2)
Non-MotoBlur (aka PhilBlur)
If you recently picked up an Android phone, chances are you have one of the above running on it. They are all perfectly good options, and many people are happy and use the launcher that came on their phone. I can’t blame them — each has features that make it perfect for some of us, so let’s have a look at them.
Currently only available on the Nexus One and the original Motorola Droid, the stock Android launcher is fast, and the app drawer’s 3D futuristic Rolodex thing-a-ma-bob is pretty freeking cool. The biggest drawback here is the lack of settings — something we get spoiled with very quickly while using many Android applications.
It’s not stock, it’s not MotoBlur, and we lovingly call it PhilBlur. This comes standard on the Motorola Droid X and it’s little brother the Droid 2. While the launcher and app drawer themselves aren’t all that slick, the widgets (and the way the re-size) are very nice. Unfortunately, the word Blur carries a stigma and just can’t shake it. We understand, be know that PhilBlur is a far cry from MotoBlur, and most issues from the old days have been addressed.
You either love Sense, or you hate it. The launcher and app drawer are nothing too special (but having the big phone button there is something you get used to quickly), but the widgets are the real magic. There’s a ton of them, in lots ‘o sizes, and the lager ones scroll beautifully. And full screen weather animations rawk, especially when it’s stormy. Sense comes standard in one flavor or another on most HTC Android phones.
Another launcher people hate based on the name. This isn’t the TouchWiz you’ve seen on the Behold, it’s an all new animal, and it ain’t that bad. The good — shortcuts on the launcher bar are customizable, and there’s a whole slew of nice Samsung widgets to go with. The bad — the side scrolling app drawer takes a bit of getting used to, and many people (myself included) find it a bit to colorful. The awesome — puzzle piece lock screen notifications. All the new Samsung Galaxy S phones come with TouchWiz, but some of the function has been removed in the Epic 4G version, Don’t ask us why, we couldn’t figure that out either.
There’s a mess of them, but we’re going to focus on the two wildly popular ones — ADW Launcher and Launcher Pro. Don’t feel overlooked if you have a different favorite, that’s why we’re running the poll to see what people out there are using. So be sure to vote!
ADW Launcher gives ton’s of customization options, is light on system resources, Free on the Market, and is open source software. That’s a whole lot of plusses right there. It’s also themeable, supports scrolling widgets, and comes in both a Market version as well as a stock replacement version (as found in CyanogenMod 6). Out of the box it looks pretty bland, but once you take the time to set it up you can really call it your own.
[AppBrain | Market link]
LauncherPro is certainly a crowd favorite, with good reason. It’s chock full ‘o features, has tons of customization options, and has it’s own set of shortcut actions. Add resizable widgets, and support for scrolling widgets and you have a winner. Do note that some features may only be available in the paid version, which you can only get from the developers site here. The free version is available on the Android Market, find the download link below.
[AppBrain | Market link]
SlideScreen basically takes the typical Android launcher and drop-kicks it out the window. It’s a vertical waterfall of information — weather, calendar, e-mail, texts, twitter — that’s all up to date and completely customizable. You have to see it to believe it. Try the free version first.
[App Brain | Market link]