Not everyone loves the default Android skin slapped on their devices by the manufacturers, and as there are plenty of customizing options available, there’s no end to the amount of tinkering you can do to change your smartphone’s appearance.
Enter Solo Launcher, one of the most popular Android launchers on the market with over 50 million downloads and an average user rating of 4.5.
As a long-term Apex Launcher user, I decided to take a look at this one to see what it offers and if it could persuade me to make the switch. Let’s dive right in.
As with most Android apps, Solo launcher can be downloaded and installed from the Google Play Store. After installation you need to set it as your default launcher to get the best experience.
Solo Launcher comes wit many customization options for your Android device and packs a lot of themes and plugins for added aesthetics and functions respectively.
Here are some features you can expect to get in Solo Launcher:
- Built-in Search Function (For Web and Local)
- Fully customizable Homescreen and Appdrawer
- Quick Gestures
- Unread Counts
- Transition Effects
- Hundreds of Themes
- Plugin support
- Ram Booster
- Widget areas
- App hiding
Solo launcher embraces material design principles so tjat what you’ll get will closely resemble a standard Lollipop homescreen.
There are options to increase the number of rows and columns of the desktop as well as increase icon size if you wish to. You can also disable the status bar, set different transitions or hide applications from your appdrawer.
The color scheme of the launcher can also be changed to any color you like (as there’s a built in color picker) while scrolling effects. Folder styles and app animations can also be tweaked to your tastes.
Tablets are also well supported on this launcher, so it works straight out of the box.
This is where Solo Launcher shines. Apart from being compatible with the themes of other popular launchers such as Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher and Go Launcher, there are hundreds of themes available that will give your device a very unique look.
You can download and install multiple themes if you wish to. Just hold down an empty area on your homescreen and select “themes” from the popup to view available themes online and select the one you like.
Widgets and Plugins
This one should appeal to users on a low-end device. It comes bundled with the application so your device can run smoothly at all times without having to install another memory cleaning app. Solo Cleaner indicates your memory usage and allows you to free up memory with the tap of a button.
There’s a search bar at the top of your homescreen which happens to show you the latest trends based on your location and allows you to search for information on the web. You can also search locally for apps, contacts, music or messages.
By default, the search bar uses the built-in Solo search engine, but you can easily change it to your favorite search engine from the settings page or turn it off altogether.
Another great feature is the weather indicator that comes as part of the clock widget. Tapping on it will show you the latest weather information for your city as well as predictions for the next four days. You can also download the standalone Solo Weather application if you’d like more options.
Other add-ons can be installed for added functionality. There is Solo Notifier for unread counts so you know how many missed calls or unread messages you have, Solo Lock Screen plugin for lock screen gestures and a QR Code Scanner.
Solo Launcher did great on both my phone and tablet. It was snappy enough, and I didn’t experience any usability issues. However, it appears to take a lot more memory than some other third-party launchers, so it’s not exactly what I’d call “lightweight.”
For example, running Solo Launcher and Apex Launcher concurrently shows a massive gap in the memory usage.
This shouldn’t be much of a problem for users of high-end devices, but those with low-end phones should keep this in mind.
The plethora of customizing options available on Solo Launcher should appeal to a lot of users such as with the memory cleaning feature, although that is countered by its high memory usage.
Regardless, there are several innovative features, and it operates really fast, clean and slick. If you desire more features, you can always install plugins and themes to create a unique experience. Best of all, it’s completely free to download and use, so don’t hesitate to try it out.
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