15 best Android launcher apps of 2016
Android launcher apps have long been an integral part of the Android experience. If you don’t like the way your home screens look or act, you can simply download an app to change all of it. There is no doubt that Android launcher apps have a far more diverse set of features than any other genre of application and you can really do some amazing things with these apps. Let’s take a look at the best ones! As of 2015, EverythingMe Launcher has closed its doors. We wish their team the best in their future endeavors!
[Price: Free / $3.99]
Action Launcher has long been a favorite of our readers and it deserves a spot on this list. It comes with a stock Android kind of look but with several unique features baked in. Some of these include Quicktheme which uses your background to determine the theme accents, Covers which is a unique take on folders, Quickpage which is like a hidden home screen you can access almost anywhere, and plenty more. It has a long history of being stable with frequent updates. You can also follow developer Chris Lacy on Google+ by clicking here for news about updates.
[Price: Free / $3.99]
Apex Launcher has been around for a very long time and remains one of the most iconic Android launcher apps ever. Like Action Launcher, it aims to give a stock Android look and feel with a few extra features thrown in for good measure. Among those include the ability to alter things like transition animations, scrolling habits, and there is even a scrolling dock where you can lay plenty of icons. Apex Launcher also includes a theme engine with many themes available on the Google Play Store and it also supports icon packs. It’s also quite stable on pretty much any device.
Microsoft’s Arrow Launcher had mixed reviews when it was first released, but it seems to have grown into one a really good Android launcher. The idea with Arrow Launcher is that you get a home screen to put your apps and such. From there, you have a variety of pre-set home screens that will show you things like frequent contacts, reminders (powered by Wunderlist), recent documents, and your frequent apps. It takes a minute to set up, but anyone that’s ingrained into Microsoft’s ecosystem should definitely consider checking this one out.
[Price: Free / $1.99]
Atom Launcher is another newer Android launcher app that seems to be moving in the right direction. It comes with a theme maker and you can find a variety of themes for it on the Google Play Store as well. It also comes with gesture controls, a hidden dock with extra settings, built-in widgets, icon pack support, and various other settings and customizations. It’s light and efficient, but has enough features to make it competitive. You can download it and use it for free to see if you like it enough to pay for the full version.
[Price: Free with in app purchases / $5.99]
GO Launcher is among the most popular Android launchers out there with well over 100 million installs to date. This is likely thanks to its simplicity and extensive theming options. It comes with a fairly vanilla set of features that allow for slight customization but the biggest feature is the theming. There are a metric ton of GO Launcher themes and you can also use icon packs with this launcher. It’s easy to use and works rather well, even if some believe it to be a tad overrated.
Google Now Launcher is the the go-to launcher for fans of Google and Android. It is essentially the stock launcher experience with built-in Google Now. It features simplicity, “Okay, Google” hotword integration, translucent theming elements, and more. It’s not overly powerful or customizable, but it is slim, quick, and built-in Google Now is a must have for Google Now fans. It’s a great launcher that doesn’t use a lot of resources and this is what Nexus owners see when they turn on their devices for the first time.
Hola Launcher is an excellent Android launcher that seems to hit all the right buttons. It features some unique gesture controls, including a double-tap app drawer, and a quick launch swipe from the bottom corner that quickly accesses your frequently used apps and settings. You can also quickly and easily hide (and find) apps from your app drawer. It has tons of icons and themes to choose from, smart folders, and a built-in weather app if you want that. There is also a Boost feature is entirely useless, but you can easily ignore it. It’s also free.
Launcher 8 is a unique launcher because it looks nothing like Android. In fact, this launcher’s sole purpose of existing is to make your phone look like a Windows Phone. Using this, you can convert your widgets into Windows Phone style live tiles and create virtually the same experience you’d find on Windows Phone, but with Android instead. It also comes with a handful of other features making it a very solid Android launcher app.
See also: 10 best Android tablet apps that all tablet owners should have
[Price: Free / $2.99]
Lightning Launcher isn’t the most popular on the list but it does have among the highest ratings. This Android launcher app has a very simple premise. It aims to use as few of your device’s resources as humanly possible. The features are a bit scant but do include some powerful ones including unlimited home screens, the ability to add and arrange icons anywhere you want, and its ability to run on almost nothing makes it a great launcher for older and lower end devices. It’s definitely worth a shot if you need something light and fast.
[Price: Free / $16.99]
Next Launcher is among the most unique Android launcher apps on this list. It also happens to be developed by the GO Launcher developers so you know there’s some experience there. Next Launcher features a 3D style home screen layout that utilizes a scroll tab on the right side to quickly switch to any home screen you’ve created. It also features unique icon layouts, themes, a unique set of widgets (separate download), and those who pay for the app will get a lot more. You can also pick it up for cheaper than the list price if you buy it using the in-app purchases of the free version.
[Price: Free / $4.00]
It doesn’t get too much better than Nova Launcher. Like Apex Launcher, Nova has been around since “the good old days” and remains not only relevant, but one of the best Android launcher app options available. It has a laundry list of customizable features that include gesture support, the ability to customize the look and feel of the app, icon pack support, themes, and much, much more. It also gets updated at a fairly rapid pace which means bugs generally get squished quickly. It also comes with the ability to backup and restore your home screen layouts for when you eventually switch to a new phone.
[Price: Free / $3.99]
Smart Launcher 3 is another unique take on the Android home screen. This one has one single home screen with a number of shortcuts arranged in a flower-style pattern. The idea is to give access to apps quickly while using as little resources as possible to keep your device running quickly. It features notifications on the home screen, tons of available themes, security features like password-protected applications, and there are even plugins. It may be a bit simple for some, but it’s powerful and works very well.
Solo Launcher bills itself as a DIY solution for those who like to have more control. It utilizes Material Design 2.0 which means you’ll have the latest options when it comes to design. There are a metric ton of customization options and you can make this launcher pretty much act and appear how you want. It also comes with theming, gesture controls, a clock/weather widget and more. It’s definitely worth a shot if you need something small, fast, and customizable.
Aviate Launcher has had quite a history. It started out as a startup project by a handful of developers before Yahoo! bought it out a couple of years back. Like EverythingMe Launcher, Yahoo Aviate has some contextual elements to try to deliver the apps you need when you need them based on location and time of day. It also comes with a sleek, simple layout along with Smart Stream which is kind of like Google Now. It’s a powerful launcher and quickly becoming a go-to solution for a lot of people. It’s also totally free.
Z Launcher by Nokia is last on our list and this is one exceptionally minimal launcher. It features one home screen, an app drawer, and then an area where you can actually write out what you’re looking for. It’s a unique premise that’s great for those who enjoy something more minimal and slick and those who don’t need anything complex. It’s still in beta, but surprisingly stable and a worthy option. Check out our hands on video below to see exactly how it works!
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Which is your favorite Android launcher? If we missed any launchers that you think should be in this list let us know about them in the comments below!
See all our best app lists.