The ability to install third-party home screen replacement apps, otherwise called launchers, is Android's best feature that sets it apart, perhaps from Apple's iOS. Not only you can personalize your mobile device's user interface to your heart's content, but you also get a pile of additional tools that will make your day-to-day life so much easier and efficient.
Before continuing, I would like to add a disclaimer: The apps on this list have been chosen solely by me.
1. Lawnchair Launcher v2
While Lawnchair Launcher is under active development for the upcoming version 2 release, early alpha builds get published every so often. If you are on the lookout for Pixel Launcher on steroids, Lawnchair v2 is your best choice because it keeps the design of the "Made by Google" Pixel experience, plus, comes with added benefits like theme support, icon packs, and so much more. I would like to mention that with a Magisk module named Quick Switch and Lawnchair v2, you can change the recent apps menu of your phone. By doing that, you get some extra customization options and the possibility of fixing Android Pie's uninspired navigation system by getting rid of the old back button in favor of a swipe gesture. Isn't it nice?
2. Nova Launcher
My second favorite home screen app is not other than the so popular Nova Launcher by Kevin Barry. It is focused mainly on speed, so it runs flawlessly even on the low-end spectrum of Android devices. Apart from unmatched performance, Nova boasts a plethora of nifty features like configurable gesture actions, integration with Sesame Shortcuts, etc. Keep in mind that to get access to everything that Nova has to offer, you will need to spend some buck on the Prime extension.
3. Shade Launcher
Shade Launcher is a new app by indie developer Amir Zaidi. He is 19 years old and yet very talented. He is making contributions to Lawnchair's development from time to time and working on his own side projects as well. One of them, as I mentioned already, is Shade, which is also built upon the famous Pixel Launcher. Shade Launcher bakes in the bare minimum of features that we have come to expect from every Pixel Launcher mod, with the inclusion of built-in themes, support for Google Discover (i.e., Feed,) and more. An exclusive function of the app is called Smart Unread. Smart Unread displays incoming notifications at the top of your homescreen, plus the currently playing music.
4. Niagara Launcher
Another launcher focused around simplicity and productivity is Niagara, which has a radically different approach though. It shows users' favorite apps on the homescreen and keeps an always accessible alphabetical scrollbar on the right side. Its newest alphas include support for widgets and the next stable update with this feature should hit the Play Store in no time, thus making it even more appealing to the average Joe.
5. POCO Launcher
Xiaomi's POCO brand of devices launched last year, and I am a happy owner of the first model of the series - the F1. Besides, they have gone out and released their custom-made launcher on the Google Play Store. POCO Launcher is available for all devices, and it is fast and pretty simple to use. One of its stand out features is app hide, which lets you hide apps from the app drawer and access them only with a passcode, a pattern, or through fingerprint verification. Another cool thing is that the launcher can sort your applications depending on their icon color or type.
6. Hyperion launcher
Hyperion has a distinct take on material design with its unique style of iconography used throughout the app and very fluid animations. A small in-app purchase unlocks a huge set of customizability settings for more tinkering.
7. Microsoft Launcher
Microsoft's launcher is somewhat unusual looking and comes bundled with productivity tools and deep integration with the company's online services. For example, once you log in with your MS account, all of your tasks from To-Do, your notes from Sticky Notes, your Outlook events, and more, will be reachable right from the feed page.
8. Smart Launcher 5
Smart Launcher 5 has such a non-standard launcher UI/UX. It does not have an app drawer, for example, but it is still worth giving a shot.
9. Action Launcher
Action Launcher makes an appearance on our list because it has its own selling points, like the Shutter feature that lets you see every widget of an app with just a single swipe. Of course, there are many more, but do mind that you will have to get the plus version to activate all of them.
These are my top launcher picks that you must install on your Android device. If you have other suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned because there is more to come.
- A handpicked selection of the best Android apps for beta testing
- 📲 Beta test on Google Play
Are you looking for more insights? Check our daily Community Reports on TestingCatalog.