Android comes in different “flavors.” First, there’s the official and unadulterated Android flavor which can be tasted on the Nexus One and the Nexus S (and, definitely on the upcoming Nexus Prime). Then, there’s Samsung TouchWiz, which can be found on Samsung phones such as the Samsung DROID Charge. Then, we have HTC Sense, which can be found on the HTC Sensation 4G. There’s also the controversial MOTOBLUR, which can be found on the Motorola Atrix 4G and other Android-based Motorola devices.
Among other things, the various “flavors” of Android differ primarily in look and feel, especially in the home launcher. Many buyers of new Android devices easily get disappointed, for one reason or another, with the preloaded home launcher “flavor” on the device. The good news is that one can shift to a different home launcher. The better news is that it’s not difficult to do so.
Custom launchers, a lot of which are available on the Android Market, allow a user to change user interface elements such as the dock, home screen transitions, app icons, the App Drawer, highlight colors, and many more. Some custom launchers even allow creation of widgets.
In this post, you will get to know more about a couple of custom home launchers that I believe are the best of the bunch: Launcher Pro Plus and Go Launcher Ex.
Launcher Pro Plus
Launcher Pro Plus will cost you US$3.49 in order to gain access to all juicy features (including widgets), which is a pretty small chunk of change for a totally new Android experience. When you open up the App Drawer in Launcher Pro Plus, you can choose between a standard 2D vertical scroll or a 3D scroll. The app also gives you the ability to hide apps you don’t need to see in your App Drawer. Really though, there’s not too much to customize in the App Drawer.
However, once you get to the Home Screen settings, you have options for transition effects for scrolling from screen to screen. You can even set how many screens you want to have. One? Seven? You decide.
At the bottom of each Home Screen is a dock which provides an option for you to have up to five apps in each dock. You can have up to three docks to scroll through (that’s a total of 15 apps being available on three separate screens).
Launcher Pro Plus has beautiful widgets that make the app worth the money. The app has a very nice transparent look and excellent functionality.
As far as skins and themes for Launcher Pro Plus are concerned, I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. There simply just aren’t enough available and the integration of applying the themes themselves isn’t that well-thought out and can’t be done simply by clicking Apply.
Go Launcher Ex
Go Launcher Ex, unlike Launcher Pro Plus, is a completely free launcher on the Android Market. However, to be able to use widgets for the launcher, you will have to install a separate app–a slightly involved process that I find a bit annoying.
In Go Launcher Ex’s App Drawer, you will find tons of customization options such as the following:
- choosing a horizontal or vertical app drawer,
- choosing a cool transition effect between app pages in the horizontal app drawer,
- editing the background,
- killing running apps,
- hiding apps, and
- being able to see your most recently used apps.
When it comes to the home screen, you have roughly the same options as Launcher Pro, with the ability to edit transition effects, add multiple screens, and edit the dock to your hearts content with up to 15 separate apps.
The widgets are nice and useful, but it seems to me that they have trouble refreshing at times. I personally like the widgets on Launcher Pro more.
Unlike Launcher Pro Plus, there are many skins available for Go Launcher in the Android Market. Go Launcher Ex even has its own theme store. Applying skins and themes is as easy as selecting Apply–and, unfortunately, that is something that cannot be said for Launcher Pro.
To wrap up, check out the video below for a view of the two apps in action:
When it comes down to making a decision, I believe the choice is obvious. The best one here is clearly Go Launcher Ex. The themes are easier to apply, the App Drawer is significantly more customizable, and the it’s also free. So, for me, it’s an easy call–Go Launcher Ex definitely wins this round.
Do you use any of these two custom launchers? What custom launcher do you use and how does it compare to either Launcher Pro Plus or Go Launcher Ex?