3 Alternative Home Launchers for Android

Swapping out the home launcher is a great way to change the look of your Android devices. The home launcher can change everything about the look from the colors to the icons and even add features like an app dock or widgets. The beauty of the process is that there’s no root access required. Assuming your device meets the minimum requirements, such as operating system, you’re good to go.

We have previously covered plenty of home launchers for Android, and we realized that this is an area that is updated regularly. Many new and better Home Launcher spruce up with each update of the Android system and it is worthwhile to revisit the topic again.

Normally we like to mention mostly free applications. However, some of the best possible applications might cost a couple bucks. That being said, the following is a list of different home launcher options, both free and paid.

Chameleon is the home launcher on this list made specifically for tablets. Some launchers give you different widgets. Usually the widgets offer sizes of their choice, and you just need to deal with it. Chameleon was designed to increase your productivity while using your tablet. The screen is broken down into the grid. The size of the widgets are extremely customizable. For example, you can have a Twitter widget that’s only one block of the grid or it can take up a whole screen. If you are the crafty type, you can make your own widget too.

alternative-home-launcher-chameleon

Only one home screens is meant to be used in each category. Each screen can have different widgets, apps in the dock and conditions. The conditions are things like time and/or day of the week, being connected to a specific WiFi network or in a specific location. These conditions let your tablet know which home screen you like to see during certain times of day or at certain locations.

Pros: 

  • To my knowledge, this is the only home launcher built specifically for tablets.
  • The way the screen grid is designed, it lets you be more productive by not letting you overload the screen.
  • The conditions make it easy to see different important information at different times of the day.

Cons:

  • Right now it is only for tablets. A phone version is in the works.
  • Limited number of widgets.

Chameleon  ($3.99)

ADW has been around for quite a while. In fact, ADW Launcher was the first home launcher I ever downloaded. The reason it made the list is because some developers recently reworked it completely. Now ADW is more competitive with some of the newer launchers in the Google Play Store.

alternative-home-launcher-adw

What you get in the new ADW is a lot more customization. For example, you can resize the screen. It let’s you designate an area where widgets and application icons will be. Everywhere else will just be open. Another handy feature is the ability to group applications. This might not seem like something you want to spend your time doing, but for an Android power user, this can save a lot of time.

Pros:

  • Really fast and lightweight launcher.
  • Not only can you use ADW.Launcher themes, you can use themes and skins made for other launchers.
  • Gestures, screen resizing and tons of other customization.
  • Add-ons like ADWNotifier add even more functionality.

Cons:

  • Too many options can be intimidating to new users.
  • To get some cool 3D features, you need to buy the paid version.

ADW.Launcher

Nova Launcher is made for devices running Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. Right now, Nova Launcher Prime (the paid version) is the launcher I’m currently using on my Nexus 7. The reason I chose it over some of the others is because it offers features like overlapping widgets. I like a fairly minimalist screen, and being able to overlap the widgets lets me create this kind of look.

alternative-home-launcher-nova

The dock is really nice and gives you a lot of room to keep the most used applications easily accessible. I also really like some of the built-in actions. The Nexus 7 doesn’t have a button allowing easy access to voice search. Nova Launcher makes this possible. After playing with quite a few different home launchers, this was the one best fitting my needs.

Pros:

  • Very clean design.
  • Allows add-ons like TeslaUnread.
  • Gestures, actions and other settings give just the right amount of customizing options.
  • Overlapping widgets let you move things closer together and create different looks.

Cons:

  • Not as many features or widgets like some launchers on the market.
  • Only on 4.0 or higher. I have to use a different launcher on my main phone and tablet.

Nova Launcher

A lot of different home launchers out there offer different combinations of features. Picking the right one really comes down to trying the different options and seeing which one has the right combination of features and cosmetics that work best for you.

We will cover more on this topic as we discover more gem from the Play store. Meanwhile, you tell us which home launcher do you use and why?