Microsoft Launcher is born from the company's vision for a better Android homescreen experience, with deeper ties to their online services + their Windows 10 operating system for desktops. That said, they have a beta program running for the app, which allows us, testers, to get early access to the newest and coolest features in return of providing free feedback. The latest 5.5 beta is now live on the Google Play Store and brings a couple of mighty tweaks and optimizations of the following.

What's new

  • Adaptive Icons - Choose one icon shape for all your apps.
  • Hidden Dock - It’s back! You can set the dock to be hidden and still access apps and widgets.
  • UX adjustments for accessing shortcuts when the home screen is locked.
  • Get notification badges for calling and messaging apps without setting Microsoft Launcher as your default assistant. Set Launcher as your default assistant for better accuracy.
  • Faster Tasks card syncing for MSA and work/school accounts.

Adaptive icons

Back in 2017 with Android Oreo 8.0, Google has come up with a solution to the non-uniformity of app icons across the UI in the form of Adaptive icons. They allow app icons to be resized in a handful amount of shapes, avoiding the mess of size differences that would otherwise occur. Microsoft is very late to the party but better late than never. Diving into the Personalization section in the setting of the launcher reveals a new page named Icon shape, which lets you choose between five default options: Rounded square, Square, Squircle, Round, and Teardrop.

Hidden dock

Looks like the hideable dock feature is back again and this time it should work much better. With it in a hidden state, you can always access your favorite apps, quick toggles, and brightness slider in the dock from the homescreen - all with a swipe from the bottom of your screen.

Notification badges

Aside from the additions above, notification badge support for calling and messaging apps have been extended to work without forcing you to set MS Launcher as your default assistant app. Though, for better accuracy, the option is still there.

The 5.5 release does come with a good balance between new features and necessary improvements. That's why you should become a tester for MS Launcher and get to try everything new weeks before others. The beta sign-up link is below.

Source: Google Play

MS Launcher's first new major release is now ready to be tested, after the inevitable need to switch away from Google+ to Microsoft's own Tech community for beta testers, guessing that you know what is going on with G+ at the moment. Perhaps, let's get straight to the details about Microsoft Launcher 5.3.0 beta, shall we?

What's new

  • Time/Weather widget redesign. Now you can have multiple widgets in multiple sizes in multiple styles for multiple locations! Also, check out the updated and more detailed L2 page with an hourly and 10-day forecast.
  • UX refinements to the Home Screen, Dock and Search widget
  • Tasks card now supports "My Day" from Microsoft To-Do
  • News tab now supports "Technology" as a news interest
  • Font type changed from Segoe UI to Roboto
  • Work profile customers can now get access to their work apps
  • Beta community link in Settings changed to lead to Microsoft Tech Community