Android Free App Recap October 30th – Replacement Home Screen Launchers

Android Free App Recap October 30th – Replacement Home Screen Launchers

Oct 30, 2012

One of the coolest things about owning an Android is the ability to change the look of the home screens. I don’t mean just changing the wallpaper, I mean really changing the look; colors, icons, fonts, you name it. To make these changes, there are a couple of steps. The first is what we will talk about here; changing the home screen launcher.

A launcher is an application made to replace the layout of the Android phone or tablet. Changing the home screen launcher can have benefits other than cosmetic changes. In some cases, changing the launcher can extend Android battery life. For some great theme ideas, take a look at the weekly Theme Thursday article where a new theme for a launcher is reviewed each week.


GO Launcher EX


GO Launcher EX is arguably the most popular home screen launcher in the Google Play Store for phones and tablets. There are tons of add-ons and themes for this and all of the GO Dev products. Add plugins like Go Locker, Go Notifications and different widgets. GO Launcher EX also has more themes than I can count. GO Launcher EX is the base or framework and can be easily changed using a theme. Some themes simply change the colors while other themes change the icons and fonts. Themes range from seasonal to holiday to cartoon characters and everything in-between.

Download GO Launcher EX


ADWLauncher


ADWLauncher is another popular Android home screen launcher. In fact, ADW is used in many custom ROMs. However, ADW only works on phones. The layout of the launcher is pretty simple. At the bottom there is a 3 application dock. One of the spaces in the dock is set to open the app drawer. If desired, gestures can be used to evoke actions. Swipe a finger to open the app drawer or pinch the screen to go to an app. ADW can also be customized with thousands of themes.

Download ADWLauncher


Nova Launcher


Nova Launcher is a fairly new Android home screen launcher. One of the neat things about Nova is the option to use both GO Launcher EX and ADW themes to customize the home screens. Another unique feature is being able to change the colors of parts of the launcher without adding a theme.

Download Nova Launcher

GO Power Master Intelligently Manages Power With Advanced Settings and Features

GO Power Master Intelligently Manages Power With Advanced Settings and Features

Sep 28, 2012

GO Power Master is an app from the creators of GO Launcher EX, occasionally featured on our Theme Thursday columns, that has a sole purpose: to help manage and maintain power consumption of that Android device, which loves to eat through batteries. While some phones have a "power saving" mode, this app makes it more intelligent. Users can set wifi to power off after a short amount of time after the screen turns off, or even disable mobile data. Smart power-saving modes can be activated when the battery reaches a critical level, or at a certain time. Background apps can be cleared out of memory when the screen is off. Premium features available via in-app purchase can be used to configure more advanced settings. A basic widget is available with the app, and GO Launcher EX users can use special widgets with that launcher.

Also, GO Power Master sounds like the name of some anime or live-action show where Japanese stuntmen in costumes fight each other, interspersed with obviously-different footage of American actors. The app is available as a free download from Google Play.

GO Launcher EX Review

GO Launcher EX Review

Jun 22, 2011

The launcher is a big part of the Android experience. Since the launcher controls many things such as your home screens, dock, and app drawer, it’s hard to find one with all the features you need. GO Launcher EX promises to be a great looking, highly customizable launcher without sacrificing your Android device’s performance. How does it stack up against other well known launchers such as HTC’s Sense UI, ADW Launcher, and Launcher Pro? Surprisingly well, in fact.

When you first start up GO Launcher EX, it really doesn’t look that much different than any other launcher. It really starts to shine when you open up the app drawer. Instead of having a boring black background, this launcher uses a transparent app drawer that sits on top of your wallpaper. At the top you have three tabs for your apps: All, Recent, and Running. Those tabs are great for users who like to see what’s exactly running on their phone without having to navigate through Settings. A press of the menu button reveals options to control sorting, create folders, hide apps, and control settings for the drawer. Within settings, you can adjust how the drawer scrolls, what background it should use, transition effects between pages, and how many apps are shown on screen.

Just like iOS, GO Launcher EX supports folders. This is a feature that hasn’t been seen on very many launchers. You can create folders in two ways, via the menu button, or dragging apps on top of each other, iOS style. You can also drag the folders down to the home icon to place them on your home screen. This launcher also comes with the ability to download basic widgets such as a calendar and task manager to place on your home screen.

The customization of this launcher is also quite extensive. You can customize everything from icons and widgets with GO Launcher EX’s themes. Most themes can be found on the market, but for you advanced users, you can also make your own themes with a dedicated Windows application.

Performance wise, GO Launcher EX runs as fast as your other common launchers. I had minimal issues upon opening the launcher, such as waiting for the app drawer to repopulate, or waiting for the transitions to cache. Overall, GO Launcher performed as fast (if not faster) than all of the other launchers tested. The built in application management tools also help with performance because you can quickly and easily kill the apps that you’re not using.

GO Launcher EX does however lack in various areas. This launcher relies on caches a lot; Upon first loading it up you will notice that transitions and the app drawer will be very slow and choppy. This is the launcher building up the animation caches, which can take a few minutes. After a fresh reboot without loading any apps, it ate up around 27MB of RAM, about twice the amount of other common launchers. So, if you are running an older phone, you might want to think about sticking to your current launcher.

While the widgets are free, they are also not bundled in when you download GO Launcher. This isn’t a huge issue, but it is a little bit of an annoyance to go through each one and download them through the market. As stated above, GO Launcher EX also supports themes, though official ones are not free. It’s nice to support the developer, but I would have liked to see some simple additional themes to whet the user’s appetite.

Overall, GO Launcher EX is another great launcher for Android. It provides many features that are absent in other popular launchers, however I feel some of these features would hold certain devices back in performance. The interface the Go Launcher EX Dev Team created is extremely easy to use and functional. This launcher also provides a lot of features that iOS has which may be useful to those switching to Android. It takes the best of both worlds, yet still keeps one of the great features of Android, total customization.