The ability to use custom launchers remains one of the core features that are unique to Android, at a time when competing platforms begin to adopt functionality that used to be the mark of Google’s OS.
Up until now, custom launchers had one big weakness, though – lack of support for Google Now voice commands, like you get when you use Google’s stock launcher. This week Nova Launcher changed that, and it looks that another popular custom launcher will be following suit soon.
In version 2.1 of the beta release of Action Launcher, Australian developer Chris Lacy (also known for Link Bubble and Tweet Lanes) added support for “Ok, Google” voice activation, available for users of Android 4.4 or higher.
There’s more – the release sees the addition of a double tap to turn screen off feature, support for the Roboto Condensed font, more flexibility in customizing icon labels, Cover/Shutter indicators, and icons scale, as well as unspecified stability improvements. Chris also plans to add unread count support to Action Launcher 2.1, but that feature is not part of this beta.
Action Launcher attempts to break away from the mold of Nova and similar launchers, by offering a number of unique features, such as Covers and Shutters, which are hybrids of sort between regular icons and folders and widgets, QuickLaunch, a homescreen area you can invoke with a swipe from the side, and QuickDraw, which is a panel that lists all your installed apps for easy access.