Cheetah Mobile launches re-imagined CM Launcher 3D

Cheetah Mobile launches re-imagined CM Launcher 3D

Mar 9, 2016

Half the fun of owning an Android device arguably lies in the area of customization, and as such, launchers are a big part of the experience. Developer Cheetah Mobile know’s its stuff in this sector, and has just unveiled a revamped version of its already popular CM Launcher 3d.

Excerpts from the press release:

CM Launcher 3D replaces the default Android system launcher and brings users updated themes, screen transitions, design, and optimizations across the phone to make it feel like a brand new device. CM Launcher 3D includes privacy functions like quick access to hidden apps, added security for basic virus and SMS vulnerability detection, smart app sorting for increased productivity, and speed and battery improvements.

What really separates CM Launcher 3D from other Android launchers is its ability to bring smooth 3D visualizations and animation effects to a wide range of Android devices, without compromising a phone’s performance.

The magic all happens behind the scenes. While Android’s graphic APIs provide developers with resources to design basic animations and transitions, more complicated 3D animations take a lot more work to implement.

CM Launcher 3D is available for free on Google Play.

[via Cheetah Mobile Press Release]

Mobie360 Review

Mobie360 Review

Oct 7, 2014

The Mobie360 app can best be described as a home screen replacement. But the team behind the app demands more of a smartphone’s home. Rather than a clutter of apps, widgets and pictures, the Mobie 360 version of a home screen is a central hub of information for your smartphone, and it makes users’ lives easier and cellphones more functional.

Most Android users don’t find anything wrong with Samsung’s TouchWiz, stock Android or whatever is packed on their phones, but Mobie 360 reveals the true potential of the home screen. However, the first thing users will notice is its not-so-sleek look. Mobie 360 is all about functionality, and that is apparent by its outdated appearance.

mobie360_3Users can change the background, but it won’t affect the overly bold look of the notification bar-like buttons aligning the top of the screen. Widgets can be placed on the Mobie 360 home screen. However, they don’t retain all the customization as they do on Android’s home tiles, a major compenent of Android’s appeal. This is especially frustrating when trying to set up Google widgets such as Google Now and Google Calendar.

While Mobie 360 allows users to tinker with the appearance of their home screen, its real goal is to make it easier for Android users to find the apps that matter most to them. The custom home screen is made up of tiles, but instead of a mere hodgepodge of apps and widgets, tiles are divided into categories such as work and home. Mostly populating that area is an app wheel, which can be set to include apps you most use at each designated location. This experience can be customized, but Mobie 360 is smart enough to provide easy access to the phone’s most used apps.

A floating Mobie icon — which is a cute creature named Mobie — hovers over apps indicating it has a message to relay. Holding down on the app icon will pull up Mobie’s notification, which will give users tips on phone usage (i.e. Twitter is using too much of your data consumption).

Where the app is really useful is in its stat tracking. Mobie 360 makes it easier to save battery and keep track of how your phone is draining power. A single tile on the home screen is filled with information regarding the device, including how many more hours your phone will last without being charged, how much data you have used this month, and how secure your phone is.

This is an extremely useful tool for phone power users and Mobie 360 presents it in a way that is easy to understand. It also provides tips to resolve issues, such as deleting apps that are sucking up too much energy.

Mobie 360’s design will not appeal to everyone, but the app will still provide suggestions to users who refuse to change their home screen. Before you go to bed at night, the app will ask you if you want to enter bedtime mode to eliminate overnight distractions. After you arrive home from a long day out, Mobie 360 will suggest you turn on WiFi to conserve power. All of this is done through notifications that pop up on screen.

The Mobie 360 app can be used in many ways, and all Android users will find it useful. The app is a must have for power users who are constantly struggling with app usage and battery life.

Yahoo Aviate Launcher Review

Yahoo Aviate Launcher Review

Sep 5, 2014

The ability to customize is one of Android’s biggest virtues.and third-party launchers are a big part of the experience. Thing is, there are a lot of launchers on the scene; as such, new options by the Yahoo acquisition Aviate have to do quite a bit to stand out.

Upon starting the app, one gets the “Simplify your phone” mantra, an invitation that is hard to ignore. There is a video intro and tapping on the blue “start” button opens up a three-page promo portion which eventually leads to the set-up, and after selecting Aviate as the permanent launcher, its ready to go.

The main page is a simple screen, made up mostly of wallpaper, top area and a bottom dock with five app icons; the apps represented thus can be manipulated by tapping and holding, and widgets can be added to this screen via the standard Android long-press method. There are other “home” screens as well. At the top right is an icon that loads the app drawer.yahoo1

To the left of the first screen, there is an interesting data screen that highlights basics like weather, calendar events and news; as with the first, widgets can be added to this sliding screen. To the right of the first screen, there is a page with categorized apps.

Then, there are slide-outs to the far right and far left; the left side has “spaces,” which is the functional heart of the app. Spaces are simply a descriptive term for these unique screens that offer smart information based on location and action. This specific slide enables easy access to the spaces, as well as app settings. to the right, is an alphabetized listing of apps.

Everything works together well, and it is seamless within Android OS. There are some clunky aspects (the method of changing icons on the middle/main screen bottom dock comes to mind); the way it incorporates widgets in the framework does overcome a lot of ills.

For a free, well-backed option, Aviate is tough to ignore, if even just for the option of the occasional switch-up.

Portal (Floating Apps) [BETA] Review

Portal (Floating Apps) [BETA] Review

Sep 5, 2013

Android devices have what is known as a notification bar. This notification bar is where all of the missed calls, incoming emails and messages, alarms and other important reminders show up. All in one nice neat little place. Well, there are alternatives to the notification bar. Portal is one of them.

portal-2Portal brings your notification bar out in the open and pairs it with a basic app launcher making it all the more useful. WHen I first looked at Portal, I was curious at how this was any better than dragging down the notification bar to see the same thing. Well, After playing with Portal for a couple of days, I found some things out.

First, it is easier to see what the notification is at a glance with Portal. I say that because the message scrolls across the little box below the Portal circle. WHile the circle can be a bit intrusive at times, it’s really easy to move out of the way or even make disappear.

Second, there are apps I use pretty regularly that automatically go into full screen. I know there are times when I am using these apps and am expecting an email or SMS it is much easier to glance over at the Portal bubble than to exit the app or game to see if it is the message I was waiting for.

Aside from seeing what messages are waiting in the notification bar, it is also a quick launch for some popular apps. Right now, there are four options for apps: SMS, Facebook, Twitter and a browser. These apps seem to be part of the Portal app. Twitter and Facebook ask for sign in credentials and do not redirect to a different app or a browser. This is nice because it can help if there is a concern about storage space on the device. One app can do the work of a few.

I am not sure Portal is for everyone, but there is a real use for it. Since the initial testing, I have toggled it on and off a few times as needed. I mostly use it as a quick access tool, not a total replacement for my notification bar.

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 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

Theme Thursday: ColorWarp

Theme Thursday: ColorWarp

Oct 25, 2012

For those here who are looking for a way to add a little craziness to their phone, or even something to add that slight touch of wonkiness. For Willy Wonka fans there is a great theme that will certainly transform any Android running ADW Launcher into something that certainly will be more festive and colorful. This week on Theme Thursday, we are looking at a crazy and wonderfully simple theme in ColorWarp. Honestly, I did not have very high hopes coming into this week, but I was pleasantly surprised. The effect given by this crazy and off kilter theme really added a lovable touch to my phone, but beware, the effect may not be liked by all and is targeted at a very specific audience.

The inevitable shortcoming in all themes is the limited amount of custom icons. Some themes have a ton, and some have a disappointing few, but with Color Warp, ever icon has a themed pair because all ColorWarp does is invert these icons to create a bizarro icon that really brings a great and unexpected splash of color. Spending a cool $1.50 delivers some great, and appropriate wallpapers that really add to the intended impression. Whether this is worth it is up for debate, there is a Lite version and with plenty of good trippy wallpapers on the web the only real reason to donate would simply be convenience and kindness to the developer.

In total, anyone who is looking to make their phone a little more interesting should make sure to check out either version of ColorWarp as it will bring a truly unified and unique look to the typically reserved Android home screen. It has been a while since I have seen a theme that is truly this unique and offers a way to completely overhaul an entire launcher this seamlessly. The change really is stunning and delivers a great sense of quirkiness and keep it slightly askew.

The Nexus 7 Finally Gets a Landscape Home Screen in Android 4.1.2

The Nexus 7 Finally Gets a Landscape Home Screen in Android 4.1.2

Oct 16, 2012

Good news, everyone! And I don’t mean that in the way Professor Farnsworth means it. Android 4.1.2 has been released for the Nexus devices, including the Motorola Xoom (pretty much a Nexus device at this point) and the Nexus 7. There’s the random assortment of bug fixes that come with a minor sub-decimal release, but there’s one new feature for the Nexus 7 that improves the experience greatly: the ability to use the homescreen in landscape.

Before, it only worked in portrait, leading to awkward situations where quitting an app or game in landscape would leave the device turned on the wrong side. Google has updated the stock launcher to support auto-rotation in the 7″ tablet interface; icons rotate and widgets will intelligently be re-sized when turning to landscape. Settings is now landscape-enabled as well. It’s a minor fix, but it improves the usability of the Nexus 7, as it feels far less awkward to navigate menus now. However, it does take some getting used to after months of acclimation to the portrait launcher. Still, we’ll take it! The update is propagating now.

Chameleon Launcher Review

Chameleon Launcher Review

Sep 27, 2012

Finding the right launcher can make all the difference in the world when better productivity is needed. The problem is, most launchers don’t allow for both a cosmetically pleasing look and enhanced productivity. Chameleon Launcher is a new launcher that does both.

The reason Chameleon Launcher is different is because of the layout. When first starting out there’s a blank main screen and three application icons at the bottom. By pressing and holding the screen, a list of the different widgets will appear. Select one of the widgets like Facebook or Twitter for example and a space on the home screen grid will be filled by that which. The widgets take up two spaces but can be resized to take up more or less space.

The widgets can also be a rearranged by pressing and holding the screen. Once the the little gear icon shows up on all of the widgets, drag the widget where it would look better. This is also how to change the settings of the widget or log into the social account being displayed in the widget. The different home screens can be set up so there’s a personal, a work and a weekends setup. Some of the widgets available are the time of day, Facebook, weather, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail and others.

Another widget that’s handy is the RSS feed option. There’s a specific site whose information is important, this widget will keep the up-to-date information on the home screen. Chameleon Launcher is the only launcher to my knowledge that allows the end user to create their own widgets. Use their API to make a widget and make the tablet home screen even more personalized and useful.

Initially at the bottom of the screen, there are three applications in what looks like a dock. To get to the applications, simply press the space off to either side of the applications in the dock or press the icon to the right side that looks like a small grid. All of the applications will pop up. Dragging and dropping the application icon into the dock is all it takes to move the app to the dock.

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: Zeam Launcher

Theme Thursday: Zeam Launcher

Sep 13, 2012

A sad but inevitable aspect of life with a smartphone is the day that phone starts to lag behind and goes from a state of the art speed demon to a plodding grandfather. The use of custom launchers can really take their toll on older phones as they are constantly becoming more complex and adding features that use increasingly more and more memory. Sometimes in order to find a simple solution is to take a step back from the more familiar launchers and try a less-familar one that values being lightweight over being crammed full of features. After cruising around the Play store I stumbled across a highly rated but little known launcher named Zeam.

I will preface the rest of this review by saying that anyone looking for a launcher to be a straight replacement for popular, full-featured launcher like GO Launcher EX or ADWLauncher. Zeam Launcher is specifically designed for people who want a fast and efficient experience and not for those who want the frankly unnecessary bells and whistles that tend to bog down other launchers. Call it minimalistic or bare bones, but the bottom line is that Zeam Launcher is the fastest launcher that I have ever tested on my phone. Every touch is registered immediately and I might even say that Zeam is more responsive and snappier than HTC’s stock Sense UI.

That being said, the customization options are very, very thin. Even though I know Zeam is aiming to be that way, there are still very few options for even some of the most basic options. A bulk of the options are centered around the number of panels and the way they are oriented and interract. Beyond editing the number of rows and collums there are not many more options when it comes to how the icons look or behave; as there is no option to edit icons for applications.

Even with the negatives, Zeam Launcher is definitely something that anyone cursed with an aging smartphone should look into. There are just enough customization options here to make it worth the very conveinient increase in performance.

Theme Thursday: Ubuntu HD for GO Launcher

Theme Thursday: Ubuntu HD for GO Launcher

Aug 30, 2012

Many people have not heard about Ubuntu or even have the slightest idea as to what Linux is. As a Linux user for over a few years I have come to enjoy the simple and attractive styling of Linux’s most popular distro. While surfing the Google Play store looking for a clean and new theme for my phone I figured why not try to emulate the operating system that I was currently using. There are a myriad of Ubuntu options on the Play store but the one I am going to look at this week will be Ubuntu HD by developer Shivmanas.

Fortunately for Ubunutu HD it lives up to its HD suffix by delivering great, high quality icons that really reflect the nature of Ubuntu’s core styling. There are a large selection of icons and because the change is subtle, non-custom icons do not look out of place. This makes for a very seamless and well constructed theme because there is not that abrupt of a difference between the theme icons and the loners that plagues most other themes. A nice touch that is somewhat controversial is the change of the home button to a Ubuntu logo. I was wary of this at first because I felt that it may have been taking the theme too far, but it truly ties the whole thing together nicely. Besides, it can always be changed in GO Launcher.

However, my favorite part of this app has to be the amazing wallpapers that are pretty much ripped right from Ubuntu. I love the wallpapers that cycle through the Linux distro and I am elated that the developer chose to include those in this theme. The whole theme wraps up nicely and looks great as a sum of its parts. For anyone who is a Ubuntu fan or is just looking for a bright, mature, and clean theme I would strongly recommend taking a look at Ubuntu HD for GO Launcher.

Theme Thursday: Cyrix GO Holistic Theme

Theme Thursday: Cyrix GO Holistic Theme

Jul 26, 2012

The great part about the GO Launcher Dev Team products is that they all operate seamlessly in and amongst themselves. When running GO Launcher it makes more sense to go all out and use some of the other GO products such as GO SMS or GO Locker. I have used all of these and while GO SMS is not my favorite SMS application, it is more than serviceable. However, until the advent of GO Holistic themes there was no real way to synchronize one unified theme between all the GO applications because developers that created GO Launcher themes did not always create a companion GO SMS or GO Locker theme. GO Holistic themes are themes that incorporate all the GO apps under one single download which eliminates having to download and manage multiple separate versions of themes and then go through and individually change everything manually.

The theme, specifically, that is spotlighted today is Cyrix by a persistent favorite here on Theme Thursday, The theme opts for a very cool black and teal design that is very popular yet I am still on the fence. Fortunately everything is executed wonderfully and the theme looks great and the whole theme has a high level of refinement that make it look very professional. I would have liked to have seen a little more variation in the theme, however as the matte black background is somewhat boring and this is especially demonstrated in the GO SMS portion of the theme.

My favorite part of this theme has to be the locker. Remaining battery life is elegantly displayed as a fading colorful circle around the date and time. The circle changes color depending on how much battery life is remaining; passing off the information almost subconsciously. The best designs are the ones that give the information that is needed almost without the user knowing it and that is exactly how the locker works.

So for those who are a fan of the teal on black color scheme, I strongly recommend giving Cyrix GO Holistic theme a try; it is a very well done theme that helps tie all GO apps together under a unified theme.