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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 5.4 beta is out with a special widget for Cricket fans, Android work profile support, and more
A new update for Microsoft Launcher for Android has been issued to all signed beta testers on the Google Play Store. Aside from a version number bump to 5.4.0 or 184.108.40.206072 to be precise, there are a couple of nifty features brought onto the table. Included are also shenanigans like fixes and improvement that we are all familiar with. So, take a look at the official release notes for this beta and stay tuned for our feature breakdown immediately after.
• Try out our new Cricket widget to keep track of your favorite teams in the Cricket World Cup! ( available in GB, PK, AU, and IN)
• Improvements to the status bar and system navigation to match the theme
• Android Work Profile: customers can view Personal and Work apps separately in the App Drawer.
• Bug fixes and performance improvements
Microsoft Launcher version 5.4 includes a built-in widget to let you follow the Cricket World Cup scores directly from the homescreen. To place the Cricket widget on your homescreen, long-press on an empty space and hit the 'Widgets' option. Also, there is a page where to pick the player teams whose scores you would like to see.
Android work profile support
Android's work profile feature essentially lets you have two groups of applications installed on a given device. If a launcher supports it, there will be two tabs in the app drawer - one for personal apps and another one for work apps. This way it is a little easier to differentiate between each type.
More about work profiles on Android Enterprise Help
Fixes and other things aside, the Cricket widget has caught my attention because, as far as I am aware of, from all homescreen replacement apps, only MS Launcher has one.
If you haven't already signed up for testing MS Launcher, you can do so from our sign up section down below or instead download the newest available APK from APK Mirror and install it manually on your mobile device.
Source: Google Play
MS Launcher 5.3 beta is available with an improved weather widget, a "Technology" category for the News page, and more
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?
- 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
Microsoft Launcher 5.2 released to beta users and adds an option for non-full screen folders, rewards, plus some other extras
Microsoft's attempts to create the perfect launcher replacement for Android continue with the release of yet another update for their own home screen application. This new update comes in the form of beta version 5.2 and is said to build upon a couple of usability-related things and it sure does to an extent, based on my testing. Furthermore, here is the official list with changes:
- Non-full screen folders for easier one-handed use and large-screen devices
- Microsoft Rewards daily deal card allows you to earn Rewards for using Microsoft Launcher and completing other tasks!
- Long-press shortcuts enabled on icons even when the home screen is locked.
- Customers can send a CPU profile through "Contact Us" in Settings in case of performance issues
- Launcher font size will now respect the system font size
Non-full screen folders
Enabling the non-full screen folder setting switches to a more traditional look used in other launchers as well. Folders are smaller, yet why they are easier to interact with with one hand. You can find the 'Open folders full screen' option inside the settings - Personalization - App folders section.
Daily rewards are going to be given to users for finishing tasks, though I did not get any, nor was able to find a hint in regards to them. I am guessing that they will get enabled server-side. Let us know if you have the feature on your device.
Shortcuts when the home screen is locked
If you happen to lock your home screen often so you or someone else does not mess up your set up by mistake, now shortcuts will work when the lock is on. The setting can be found inside Personalization - Home screen menu.
Send CPU profile reports
The last notable thing is the button for sending CPU usage reports directly to Microsoft, intended to help them fix the severe battery drain problems plagued users with MS Launcher's previous two builds installed. The option is located under the 'Help make Microsoft Launcher better' page in the Contact us section in the settings too.
Verdict: Microsoft Launcher v5.2 beta focuses on usability improvements as seen from the one-handed folder UI, shortcut access when modifying the desktop is locked and font size enhancements. You can apply for its beta right away from the links below and help MS iron out any quirks that have been left out.
Source: Google Play
Microsoft Launcher v5.1 beta gets a feature similar to Pie's Digital Wellbeing, "Hey Cortana" support and Spanish, updated cards
Digital Wellbeing is a feature launched with Android 9.0 Pie and it tracks the user's usage patterns on their devices. Microsoft Launcher v220.127.116.11598 beta brings, sort of, the same core functionality to older versions of Android too, but lacks extra features like app timers and winddown mode from Google's counterpart. "Screen time", as Microsoft calls it, logs how long your screen has been on, which apps you use the most and how many times you have unlocked your screen, with a back record of up to 7 days. By the way, to do all for all of these to work properly, it requires the usage access permission to be given to the Launcher from your device's settings. You can see all of your personal usage statistics from inside the Feed, or either you can add "Screen time" as a widget to your homescreen. Meanwhile, there are bug fixes and other things in tow with this beta update, and below is the published changelog for it:
- Track your screen time, app usage and phone unlocks with the new screen time card
- The Launcher To Do card now shows tasks from apps like Microsoft To Do, Outlook and Skype
- The Launcher Notes card now shows your Notes from Sticky Notes on Windows, Outlook and OneNote mobile
- Cortana now has an updated card with commute/traffic
- "Hey Cortana" as a beta feature for the en-us market
- Cortana support in the ES-ES market
- Bing mini-answers shows you quick answers for stocks and currency
Some of the other more noticeable additions here are the upgraded tasks and notes launcher cards, which can pull data and synchronize it in-between from other MS services such as To Do, Outlook, Skype, Sticky Notes on Windows, Outlook and OneNote mobile. The Cortana card has been updated too, now with commute/traffic info, and you should definitely start testing the "Hey Cortana" launch phrase to remotely start Cortana from the launcher itself, but this is only available in English US right now. With this release, she also learns the ability to speak Spanish (Spain), which is a welcome upgrade for Spanish speakers.
The MS Launcher draws the path to become more like a hub for everything Microsoft, and this may be a very good reason for it to be one of the top go-to launcher apps for Android power users. What do you think? Please, do let us know in the comments.
The Microsoft Launcher 5.0.1 build has been reported to cause severe battery drain issues for users both on the beta and stable release channels. To address this, the Microsoft Launcher Engineering team has released a test build for those who are suffering from this problem, which needs to be installed manually and has special debugging tools built-in.
The first thing you have to do is downloading the Microsoft Launcher 18.104.22.168.47080 test build and installing it manually. Make sure to enable 'Unknown sources' from your device's Security settings to be able to install apps from places other than the Play Store. Also, note that this special build does not have the Timeline feature.
Proceed with using the app and your device in the usual way that you do it for more than three hours and if things look fine, then please report in an email format at firstname.lastname@example.org with a title "Google+ user battery issue: ...". If you are still experiencing the battery drain issue, there is a CPU profiling tool in Settings - Utilities - Analyze CPU usage. This will collect data in the background for just a minute while you are doing your thing and the outputted log file you will get to attach to an email and send it to the same address and with the same title as we mentioned right above.
If the problem is still there, you can try doing the following changes and report back if they do fix it:
- Sign out and sign in again with your Microsoft Account.
- Disable the News Tab in the Feed page by toggling it from Settings - Your feed - News.
- Disable the Feed entirely by switching of the Your feed option, which is the top one in Settings - Your feed.
- Make sure to check for memory leaks by tapping on Analyze memory usage in Settings - Utilities and send the results to the MS Launcher team.
For more info and tips you can join the Microsoft Launcher Beta community on Google+.
Recently, an announcement from Microsoft revealed that Microsoft Launcher is getting a new update with huge improvements to Feed, which now has been divided into three tabs - Glance, News, and Timeline.
This is available for Microsoft Launcher beta users, but will eventually come to the stable channel soon. The new Feed side-bar (reminiscent of Google Now, which is being re-branded as Discover), as we mentioned earlier, now comes with three tabs and each of them has serves a different purpose. If you log in with your Microsoft account, you get even more goodies, and here they are in a summary:
Glance - Glance combines all of the data important to you like calendars, contacts, documents, and more. It also has support for Microsoft's Office apps and Cortana.
News - The Newsfeed provides customizable news interests, ten in total, which you can toggle on and off from the settings to declutter it a bit, and a News market option to get region-specific content recommendations.
Timeline - This is, perhaps, the most eye-catching feature, which syncs with your PC running on Windows 10 build 1803 and later. It combines in a "timeline" flavor all of your visited websites and opened apps, and you can jump back and forth, without losing track of your work, and between devices. But sadly, supported are only Edge and all of the MS Office apps.
Would you like to see more apps added to the list and which ones (Google)? Please, let us know guys on our social media pages, or on our new Android Apps Community Telegram group.
Microsoft Launcher 22.214.171.124658 removes support for Android 4.0.x and 4.1 and brings along some new gestures
The unique and feature-rich Microsoft Launcher is here with another beta release, coming with version number 126.96.36.199658 and the changelog is the following:
- Folder and app icon gestures (swipe to open or click to launch).
- Choose how to use the last row of the expanded dock: Apps, pinned contacts, folders, search bar or widgets;
- Parents can enable web filtering through the Family card.
- Folders in the app drawer are now sorted alphabetically.
- UI improvements: Animation adjustments; blur effect as an option; App badges in the app drawer.
- Fully support Android O and remove support for 4.0.X and 4.1.
The first new feature added is folder and app icon gestures and you can see in the demo video how it works. Also to enable it, you have to hold down your finger on an app icon or a folder on the home screen and select the pen icon. After that, you'll see the gesture settings.
The next interesting one is the customizable dock - you can place on the bottom row a search widget, add a second row of applications and more. It can be switched on from Settings - Personalization - Dock - Dock bottom row.
Now you can turn off all blur effects and set a custom blur level from Settings - Personalization - Themes. It's great to have it optional.
Also the app now fully supports Android Oreo and support for Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean 4.1.X is ended.
What do you think about the changes brought by Microsoft? Let us know.
This time we're going to check out Microsoft Launcher v188.8.131.52176 and the improvements it comes with:
- Family: parents can show/hide kids in the Family card - It gives you the option to check in on your kids. You can enable it by heading to the far-left page and hitting the Customize feed button. After that, you will see it in the Hidden cards section where you'll have to press the Show button.
- Improvements to reading news articles with Microsoft Edge browser
- Toggle to hide page indicator on the home screen - It's self-explanatory.
- Cortana: supports multi-turn SMS + calling
- UI improvements: a welcome page, settings page, widgets & context menu
- Support for removing screens in overview mode via drag & drop
Here is my two cents:
- The animations are overwhelming - they're nice, but too slow (laggy). Also, the UI is far from Material designed and it creates an inconsistency across Android's whole UI design principles.
- Enabling Cortana is a bit tricky. I had to install it, set it as a Default assistant, give it all the necessary permissions, whenever it asked - randomly. Also to make it work from the homescreen, I had to wait like 20 minutes 'till it decided on it's own to download language data packs. It's actually useful, but not nearly as polished as Google Assistant.
A glitch: When scrolling up and down quickly, the app icons in the app drawer at the top 2-3 rows are showing on top of each other - like twice, but in different places. You can see it in the video. I just can't explain it.
That's it for now. If you have any issues with Microsoft Launcher, please go ahead and make a report on Testing Catalog
The device used in the app:
One plus one 64gb (android 6.0.1)
- I'm keen on flexibility of launcher settings
- A lot of customization whereas my previous launcher
- Well designed
- In settings of wallpapers I couldn't find "black/white screen wallpaper" in pictures list, strongly recommend you to add this feature
- It was hard to find how to set up the main screen when I tap on home button of the device (press and hold gesture should be added to settings menu with explanation)
- Pressing and holding on "wifi" button from down bar quick menu doesn't redirect me deeper into wifi settings for searching new wifi hot spots
- There is no integration with Google services
- More colors could be added to settings customization (fonts, articles)
- There should be added customization for app icons (make them all circled or quartered in one visual style)
- I'm not sure to correct work on Microsoft widget "clean ram memory"
- New apps don't add home screen even if there is empty place
- My old widget can't be loaded, see my screenshot
Device: Samsung Note 4, Android 6.0.1
Application: Microsoft Launcher v4.5
I am not using this app frequently but it is always installed on my secondary device. This is the First TestingCatalog report for this app so there might be some duplications.
What's new for v4.5:
- Running late? Now you can let meeting attendees know you’re running late straight from the calendar card.
- Microsoft Intune integration. Employees whose enterprises leverage Microsoft Intune’s data protection policies can now use the Microsoft Launcher for viewing corporate data. Enterprise data protection policies now apply on all Microsoft Launcher surfaces.
- Icon size: Adjust your icon size in the app drawer, dock and home screen.
- More features: Set different wallpapers for your home screen and lock screen (Android 7.0+) Add blank Home screen pages in vertical mode; Enable recurring reminders; Support Android Oreo app/widget shortcuts creation;
- Experiment features import from other launchers from Settings -> Backup / Restore; Reset your launcher from Settings -> Utilities / Reset Launcher;
Let's start with New features.
Running late? - I didn't manage to try this because my calendar is connected to the google calendar. It looks like you have to use MS calendar to make this feature available. Please let me know if I am wrong here.
Icon size - This one was easy to find. Launcher settings - Personalisation - App Drawer Icons - Disable "Use home screen size" checkbox. You will see a slider with 5 states where you will be able to choose the icon size from Smallest to Larges. You also can see an icon preview which is very cool! (Screenshot)
Add blank Home screen pages in vertical mode - Long tap at the home screen - press on the right page to add a new one. You will see possible 7 options. One of them is a Blank Page which will create a new page where you can add apps and widgets. This looks like a basic option so I am not 100% sure if it a completely new or if it is something "vertical mode" specific.
Reset your launcher from Settings - I tried this too and it was very straightforward. App hangs for several milliseconds and then you can see a Welcome screen where you can setup MS launcher from scratch.
Besides those several changes, I also noticed a couple of issues which I didn't see before.
Join Beta Program button opens a Google Plus community in a web view instead of a native intent
- Steps - open Launcher settings - press Support us button - press Join Beta programme.
- Expected results - The button should open a Google Plus app intent if Google Plus app is installed.
- Actual result - App opens a web view where the user should log in to the Google Account once again.
Swipe on the dock gesture has a delayed animation if it's configured to open the app drawer
- Steps - Open Launcher settings - press Gestures - press Swipe up on Dock - press Open app drawer - press Home button - Swipe up on Dock (slowly).
- Expected - Home screen should become hidden immediately.
- Actual - The user can see a home screen behind the app drawer for several milliseconds.
Both issues are small and not critical. Did you find anything else?