Nova Launcher Prime Review

Nova Launcher Prime Review

Sep 19, 2012

Android defined mobile customization. Third-party launchers exemplify that customization, and competition breeds a great selection, and it takes an awful lot to stand out from the crowd. At first glance, it seems that Nova Launcher Prime from Android third-party heavyweight TeslaCoil Software just might be able to do it.

Nova packs a productive punch. I am picky about my homescreens, and Nova became the horribly indulgent uncle. I was resizing widgets in no time, and working on animations, theming and more.

I was a huge fan of the LauncherPro. The combination of tweaks (like sliding docks and icon hiding) appealed to me. Nova seemed to incorporate a lot of these features, and more. I found Nova’s UI smooth, with it natively giving me access to its menu and the device’s menu, as well as wallpaper. The initial five homescreens were snappy, and the pop-out animation of the application drawer worked without a hitch. I thought that it incorporated some of the better aspects of Sense, and actually improved upon it.

Widget re-sizing is nothing new; it is an almost expected feature in any third-party launcher replacements. Nova makes it easy by using an adjustable grid to facilitate sizing. Thus, I was able to make widgets that were truly my own.

As if that is not enough, as noted earlier, I was able to change the icons using themes. Customization is where Nova truly shines, and I appreciated the ability to use themes made for ADW and Go (other popular launchers for Android OS); I was able to find dozens icon sets in the Google Play Store and XDA Forums. I could also hide icons I didn’t want to appear in he app drawer, and also able to adjust the number of icons in the dock.

Two features I truly liked were the gesture-based button functionality and the sliding docks. The former created the ability to make one dock button do an additional action based on type of interaction — interactions like either press, swiping up or down, zooming in or out and double tapping, among others. As an example, I was able to create a direct dial action as an alternative action for the phone icon in my dock. The latter gave me easy access to icons in any screen by swiping.

I liked Nova way more than I thought I would. I mourned the fact that there was not a social widget, and wished for a hub-type functionality that allowed the downloading of icons from within Nova itself. Still, I am sure that most people will love Nova, and will be pleased enough to make it the default portal to their devices.

Theme Thursday: Fluxed

Theme Thursday: Fluxed

Mar 1, 2012

One of the biggest selling points for any theme is continuity; the more seamless the integration, the better. One of the biggest obstacles of this is the fact that introducing custom icons alienates those apps that do not have theme-specific icons. Nothing will kill a great looking theme faster than a limited app icon selection, and fortunately our theme this week, Fluxed for ADW Launcher, comes strong with a massive list of represented applications (somewhere close to 350). The icons all look amazing as slightly beveled, matte squares with the application image cropped nicely in the lower right corner. I have found that some themes use overdone icons that look strange and out of place in the app drawer, but because of the design and just sheer number of icons this is not the case here for Fluxed. One problem I found was that certain apps didn’t automatically switch icons and had to be done manually, and these changes only applied to icons on the homepage and not in the app drawer.

Unfortunately, the included background is nothing to write home about, and I found myself immediately changing it. As stated above, Fluxed is available for ADW Launcher which, unlike GO Launcher, only supports one background per theme. This is not a massive problem though as finding good Android wallpaper takes just a simple trip to Google’s Image page, but with so much attention given to each app icon it would have been nice to see a little more effort go into the wallpaper. For the dock bar, Fluxed removes it entirely and just adds a small shadow. I would recommend turning reflections ‘on’ in the ADW settings as this adds a nice, simplistic touch.

For those running ADW I fully recommend Fluxed simply because of the amazing icon selection and top notch quality. With just a little effort by the user, this is one theme that could really liven up any dreary or stale looking phone.