While feature-wise Niagara Launcher by Peter Huber is too limited (for now,) it does amaze with its sleek looks and outstanding, yet simple UX. It gets quite far from traditional Android launchers by ditching the homescreen+drawer combo altogether in place of a simple list of apps, but with a twist - you always have an alphabetical scrollbar on the right-hand side and access to a search bar with a tap on the home button if its enabled (because it is off by default.)
Support for widgets has been the number one request by many users since last year, and in the latest set of alpha releases, the developer has finally made this wish come true. Perhaps, why don't we go through the changelogs for all of these updates and then give you all of the nitty-gritty details about the current state of this feature?
• 🔣 Widget support - you can add one widget above your favorites (Niagara’s settings > Features > Add widget).
• It’s vertically resizable (hold on the widget > Resize). Horizontal resizing and centering will come in the second alpha.
• Fixed a bug in the most used algorithm and made it more precise
• Replaced a couple of icons (e.g., in Niagara’s settings)
• Large parts of Niagara’s source code have been rewritten to improve code stability in the long term and to make adding features easier.
• Fixed a crash that occurred after replacing a widget
• Widgets can be moved (almost) to the top part of the screen.
• Updated translations (You can submit your own at http://crwd.in/niagara-launcher)
• Enhanced app suggestions
• Changing the widget’s width and alignment is still not possible, but you’ll be able to choose between three different modes in the future (more at the end of https://github.com/8bitPit/Niagara-Issues/issues/117).
• Provides a fix for a bug introduced in alpha2
The implementation is not final, so expect in the next alpha builds to see more refinements and other options. Otherwise, settings for customizing the widget height as well as placement are there. One important thing to note is that there is a limitation to a single widget, and to add it you will have to go the Features section in the settings panel, select 'Add a widget,' and the rest is pretty straightforward. My advice for you will be, if you are planning to add, for example, Google's 'At a glance' widget or similar, to disable the included time and date options from the very same Features page to avoid double info.
The developer has rewritten a large portion of Niagara's source code from scratch, thus adding stability improvements and overall performance gains, plus he has listed that he is making ground for other feature additions down the line. Moreover, he has made enhancements to the algorithm for the application prediction system, where he also has caught a bug causing impreciseness and apparently has fixed it.
Niagara 0.8.0 is going to be a great release, especially with the added support for widgets. Expect more test builds in the coming days and stay tuned to TestingCatalog for more alpha and beta app-related news.
Niagara Launcher 7.2 comes with much better performance; widget support in the works but until then here's a workaround
Niagara Launcher features an utterly simple user interface, which it makes far more distinguishable than Android's standard home screen experience. It does not support widgets, nor allows placing app icons or shortcuts wherever users want. Meanwhile, there are plans for widget support, though no proper launch date has been set.
Its most recent v7.2 release arrives with better-tuned scrolling performance and the following release notes:
- Scrolling works faster / is more battery friendly
- Other performance improvements (fewer checks when returning to Niagara / faster loading app list)
- Tweaked Media player / App options layout-
- You get notified when notification dots in system settings are disabled
- Adjusted the app swipe menu design
- You can now send multiline quick replies (in-app swipe menu)
- Prevent some crashes introduced in the latest version
The widget situation
As widgets are very important for a lot of Android users, not having them in Niagara is a big turn off. This is why the developer is considering adding support for them in a future update. Furthermore, he has started a poll on Telegram asking the type of widgets most people prefer putting on their home screens.
Pointed out by a couple of people on Niagara's Github issue tracker, there are a number of ways to temporarily overcome this hurdle. There are some apps that you can install from Google Play and one of them is called "Overlays". It basically allows placing widgets atop of apps, with an option to select custom triggers. To set it up:
- Open Overlays.
- Tap the '+' FAB button.
- Select Widget and after that choose one.
- Set a position and a size for it.
- Hit SET TRIGGER - Foreground Application - Niagara.
- That is it!
Now, whenever you get to your home screen, the widget you chose earlier will be displayed. As a side effect, it will be shown everywhere in Niagara, even in the settings.
In parallel with the included fixes and improvements, there have been quite a few changes made to the app’s architecture, so you may experience unexpected crashes or misbehaviour. Version 7.2 will be available on the Google Play Store soon, but you can install it early by downloading the APK from the link below.