Last week on our Android customization series, we continued to play with photography by shooting time lapse videos using the app called Framelapse, we are changing gears completely this week, taking a look at one of the basics of Android, how to change your Launcher.
Full disclosure, this piece is for those of you that are beginners on the topic. If you are a proud user of Aviate, Nova, Apex, the Google Now Launcher or other, there is not much for you to learn here today, so you best just head over to our list of Best Launchers for Android and make sure that something better hasn’t come along.
Before we get started
You do not necessarily need to install a new Launcher before we get started today, as the process to do so is actually one of the ways to swap Launchers on your Android device. However, I am not going to spend much time explaining what a Launcher is, nor which you should try out, that has already been covered on this site a few times.
I would have you look through the next two steps as your primer for today, see what a Launcher is and identify one that you think you’d like to try out. Hint, after today, you’ll be able to try them all with relative ease, so don’t be too concerned with choosing the best one right out the gate.
Although we do not have a dedicated article specifically explaining what exactly a Launcher is, I think you can get the idea by checking out a few of our more recent articles about Launchers. If I had to describe a launcher in just a few words, I would call it your main and default user interface on your Android device, including your Homescreen and app drawer.
- Action Launcher 3.2 brings lots of new features
- Yahoo's Aviate Launcher updated with new Search functionality
- Google Now Launcher update brings Material Design tweaks to KitKat and Jelly Bean
- Apex Launcher 3.0 updates UI with Material Design
- Nova Launcher 3.3 brings Lollipop-style app drawer cards
- Lollipop Launcher - Indie app of the day
- Chainfire’s Sideload Launcher makes it easier to launch sideloaded apps
This is a tough question, and the answer will be different for each and every one of you. There is no better way for you to choose a Launcher than to try a Launcher. Try them all! Here is our list of the best Launchers for Android, check it out, report back here when you think you’ve got one you’d like to try.
How to swap Launchers on your Android device
There are two main ways to swap Launchers on your Android device. I will be working off of a vanilla Android 5.0.2 Lollipop device today, you may experience slight differences on your older or manufacture skinned devices, but the concept remains the same.
I hope you didn’t think this would be complicated? The first method to swapping Launchers is to simply install a new launcher on your device.
Two things will happen here, first, once the Launcher is installed and opened, it will likely ask you if you want to set it as your default Home application. Follow the prompts and you will be in good shape moving forward. There is no limit here, go ahead and install a few Launchers and make them all default one at a time when you open them up from your app drawer.
Method two is a little more in your control, and just as easy.
Open your main system Settings.
Find and open Home.
Choose your preferred default Launcher.
Hit your system Home button and enjoy, it’s really that easy.
Each and every Launcher offers you a different experience on your Android device. Most Launchers add functionality typically not found in the stock Launchers from Google or your device manufacturer.
Of the added functionality, many devices bring gesture control, such as swiping up on the Homescreen to access a settings menu, or your quick settings. These features may or may not be handy to you, like a swipe down gesture that opens the notification bar… however, install a protective case on your device, and that top edge becomes really hard to hit, and then the swipe down gesture becomes a life saver.
Each Launcher offers different tools, choosing the one that works best for you will be a matter of trial and error, have fun!
A number of the Launchers we’ve seen in this week’s Android customization post include the ability to apply a custom icon pack, with a set of icons that display throughout the system. It is there that we will point our attention next week, again, we’ve covered tons of icon packs on the site, but stay tuned next week to see how to install and setup a custom pack.
There are so many Launchers out there for Android, which is your favorite?