We spend a lot of time here at TechnoBuffalo switching from device to device, and we often take the opportunity to reevaluate the landscape. Nova Launcher has been a mainstay for me, so it’s hard to switch away; it just has everything. That said, Action launcher has been getting my attention lately, and with good reason. It has a ton of great features, like Covers and Shutters, which allow for a high degree of information density. That didn’t stop me from taking a look at Google’s Now Launcher and Action Launcher.
Google Now launcher is fine. It’s actually gotten pretty great, it just doesn’t support the amount of customization I want out of my home screen. As much as we love having Google Now so easily accessible to the left of the first page, it doesn’t outweigh the mess it makes. I also need to hide apps in my drawer that are already on my home screen, so Now launcher is ruled out right there. Now even stores and syncs your home screen layout and even includes placeholders for apps that have yet to be re-downloaded. It’s a great experience, and for someone less picky, it’s a great option.
As mentioned, Nova is my go-to. I use it to change grid sizing in my app drawers, on the home screen, and in folders. Also to hide app labels in folders so I just see the icons, and increase grid size since so many displays have such high DPI. I also use the gestures to easily invoke frequent actions. For example, swiping down with two fingers will invoke the Play store, and swiping up with two will invoke Nova Settings, swiping up on a particular icon for another shortcut or other action. I have my phone dialer set to call my wife when I swipe on it.
Action launcher supports a few of these things, such as gestures and grid sizing, but to a lesser degree. Where Action shines is with its innovative changes to the traditional home screen. For example, it eschews the app drawer (though you can still use it if you want to) in favor of an alphabetized quick drawer on the left. You can even set another drawer when you swipe in from the right for a virtual “always there” page that you can access regardless of what page you’re on. You can also create Covers for your folders. If you find you use a particular app every time you open up a folder, you can set it to that folder’s cover. Now, when you tap on the folder it’ll put you right inside that app. To reach the rest of the contents, you simply swipe up on the icon. You can also turn on Shutters for apps that will hide the widget for that app behind its icon. Just swipe up to see it.
There are many other great launchers out there, but these two have my attention for the time being. Check out the video above to see why these launchers are so great, and check out a previous video we did on Android launchers.