Nokia has turned its attention to other projects after their smartphone division was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, one of which is a new and intuitive Android launcher – the Nokia Z Launcher.
Z launcher is a complete home screen and app drawer replacement with a unique way to quickly access apps and contacts. Z Launcher is currently in pre-beta, but it seems to work quite well, despite the limited features. As is the rage these days, Z Launcher is a predictive app that sees what you’re using and then pushes it to the front. Z Launcher has a single panel with a clock and upcoming appointment at the top of the screen and a list of contacts and apps below, that changes based on your usage throughout the day. You can draw letters anywhere on the screen to filter your apps and contacts. At the bottom of your screen is a dock with a link to the app drawer and some app icons.
All you custom ROM users, alas, Z launcher is not supported on rooted phones and very kindly tells you so!
You’ll have to actually navigate to the download page on your device to get the APK. If you have an unrooted Nexus 5, Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S3, Moto X, HTC One or Sony Xperia Z1, you can give Z Launcher a go!
If you’re a frequent user of an Android phone, you’d have tried out Home Screen Launchers available on the market. Some of these are much better than the Stock Android UI, or the one bundled on the phone. None of these are as awesome as the upcoming TSF Shell Pro which is currently being developed by a team of developers who go by the name C3D.
This shell looks so advanced that it makes other Android Launchers look outdated! This new laucher features 3D widgets, Quick screen switchers, lasso selections, multiple selections for moving icons around, and tons more to make management of your apps on the phone so easy. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Here’s a demo video of the TSF shell to knock your socks off.
This launcher is currently in development and should be out in a few months. I for one am impatiently waiting for this to hit the market to snap it up. You can get more information about this from the TSF site.
Towards the end of July ’10, Federico Carnales the author of the most popular Home replacement /Launcher app ever – LauncherPro , announced a new version called LauncherPro Plus which would contain several widgets exclusive to LauncherPro Plus users only !
The list of widgets include:
People Widget – To quickly access all your contacts, or just your favorites, or a particular group.
Bookmarks Widget – Quick access to your browser’s bookmarks
Calendar/Agenda Widget – Shows you a calendar you can scroll through to switch months, and also lets you see your agenda for any particular day right within the widget.
Messaging – Scroll through a list of your SMS messages or one by one. Quick links to delete messages, reply, etc.
Twitter Widget – Three different views: Timeline, Mentions, and Direct Messages. There’s also a “Compose” button to write a new tweet.
Facebook Widget – Similar to the Twitter widget. There’s two views: news feed and wall. You can switch between the two views with the buttons at the top, or use the “Compose” button to create a new post.
Upcoming Friends Widget – Lists your friend’s status updates from Facebook and Twitter, and lets you update your own status too.
How to get LauncherPro Plus??
The early-bird price for LauncherPro Plus was and still is(as of today) only $2.99 , and you can buy it today through Paypal using this link. The price will most likely go up once all widgets are included, so you’ll want to get in now to enjoy the discount.
-Once the transaction is complete, you will get a mail directly from Federico with a confirmation and an unlock key. -Select Preferences from the LauncherPro options and scroll down to the Upgrade/unlock option. -Enter your PayPal email address and the unlock key and restart the app. We now have LauncherPro Plus !!!
-To use the widgets, long press on any screen and select the option LauncherPro Widgets !
From 1.6 to 2.0 to 2.1 to 2.2 to 2.3 … What a ride its been Cupcake to FroYo to Gingerbread and more to come … While each update significantly changes and improves upon almost all aspects of the OS, the one area which is neglected is the Launcher or the Home screen. My first experience with Android was on my Spica running 1.6 and the home screen was at best marginally ok. This got me searching, and pretty soon i ran across some of these Launchers like LauncherPro, ADW etc. These standalone Home Replacement/Launchers were a Godsend! Some of the features they had the the stock lacked include, Sense UI-like scrolling, Screen Rotation, Screen Previews, more no of screens (most stock android phones had only 3) etc etc. Here are some of my Favourite Launchers/Home Replacement Apps in no particular order.
– LauncherPro [Market Link] is personally my favourite from among the various launchers. The first thing I noticed was the speed – this launcher is blazing fast and smooth. Everything from sliding through the screens to pulling up the app drawer is much faster than stock. LauncherPro lets you have three, five or seven home screens, and also lets you choose which one out of the seven will be your default home. To adjust the screen settings, simply hit menu and go to preferences where you can adjust it to your liking. Another useful feature this launcher has is when you hit the “home” key at your default home screen, a thumbnail view of all your screens pops up, basically a preview of all your screens.
The app drawer produces a very slick “fly-in” effect and you’ll notice that the scrolling is very responsive and produces virtually zero lag. LauncherPro lets you choose how many apps shortcuts you can fit in each row for the app drawer. You can choose to organize apps in five shortcut rows on the home screen and that’s as far as it goes. If you’d like to, you can also hide icon labels, so you only see icons on the home screen and not the names of the apps below them. Another useful feature of LauncherPro is the ability to remove/hide apps from the app drawer so that your app drawer doesn’t get all cluttered up.
LauncherPro does not have the theme capability of ADW Launcher but it does offer a tiny bit of themeability to the dock. The dock here is scrollable with 3 docks, features 5 shortcuts along the bottom and lets you scroll through a total of 15 shortcuts!
LauncherPro also features many enhancements, like auto-rotation, assigning an action for the home key, and hiding the notification bar. In addition, it also has the option to display the number of unread mails, missed calls or unread messages if the corresponding shortcut is present on the dock. Another awesome feature lets you swype up or down on a shortcut in the dock which triggers an action that you can set!
LauncherPro now has a plus version which costs $2.99 and comes with some really useful widgets. You can read more about it Here
2. ADW Launcher
The ADWLauncher is a 3rd party open source home replacement app, that is highly customizable. It is also probably the most popular launcher out there, and is the default launcher of the very popular CyanogenMod custom ROM. AnderWeb has incorporated some of the finest features that you would find on certain high end devices, and with this latest release, AnderWeb has included the new FroYo launcher look.
ADW offers up to 7 screens, which is pretty standard for a custom launcher, but if you need to fit even more shortcuts, ADWLauncher offers the ability to choose how many rows and columns of apps you want on your home screen—up to eight each which is pretty unique, so that you can squeeze in as many shortcuts as possible. You can also do the same with the app drawer, remove/hide labels and set the background colour.
ADW, like LauncherPro has the option of setting a custom action to the home button like hiding the notification bar or showing a home-screen preview. It also has a few built in gestures like swiping up or down to show or hide the notification bar.
One of the biggest attractions of ADWLauncher is its themeability. It’s pretty simple, you download the theme from the market and select it in ADW’s preferences. Applying a new theme changes everything from the wallpaper to the icons.
Some other features include the Nexus One screen dots, the horizontal app drawer that is found on the Samsung Galaxy S, Sense UI home-screen previews, and a invisible “secret dock,” that gives you the option to add six more icons.
While many people swear by ADW and claim to have flawless performance I along with many others feel that this app can at times become extremely slow and sluggish and even Force Close. Try it out and let us know what you think. [ad#ga-480-break] 3. Zeam Launcher
Zeam [Market Link] is a lightweight launcher alternative available for free on the Android Market.
According to the Market description, Zeam is still “Work in progress, but is a pretty good Launcher/Home Replacement app anyway. Zeam is listed on the Android market as being only 268kb in size, so it’s much lighter than some of the other home replacement apps, I’d say the lightest!
Some of the features are – Provides up to 9 screens, Designate a default screen, User-selected animation for the app drawer, Remembers the last scrolled position of the app drawer, Provides a doc bar at the bottom of the screen, Supports all of the default widgets, Allows the user to hide desktop icon labels, Can be set to run full-screen, hiding the notification bar etc ..
4. Helix Launcher
Helix Launcher is an excellent home screen replacement and replacement launcher.
Helix Launcher works pretty smooth and is lightning quick and works just as smoothly in landscape mode as in portrait mode. Upon a double-tap, an index of thumbnails is displayed showing all your screens. Even with 7 screens, any screen is only a double-tap and a touch away.
Features – Standalone Launcher, 3 to 7 screens (swipe scrolling between pages), Double tap action for screens preview, Rotation enabled, Android 2.0 , compatible, Full-screen app menu (with notification bar still), Quick Shortcuts, Drag & Drop and shortcuts to the QuickBar .
5.Tag Home (Launcher)
Available on the market as 3 different files for 1.6, 2.1 and 2.2.
Tag Home(Launcher) [Market Link]is a heavily customizable home screen and launcher replacement for your Android device. Tag Home allows the user to assign “tags” that appear at the bottom of the launcher tray to any application they have in their menu. Users can also create their own custom tags and assign those as well. Some of the tags that come pre-installed with the app are All, Google, Communicate, Multimedia, Games, etc. When you click on these tags they filter the apps out of your entire app collection that fall into these categories. You can assign any application in your launcher tray to any tag that you have available.
Tag Home also allows you to organize your apps based on a user defined priority. So, instead of opting for the standard alphabetical sort option of your apps in the launcher, you can assign each app a weight from 0 to 100. The higher the weight the app has, the higher it goes in the order of your launcher. Another nifty option is going into the “edit mode” of your launcher and tapping “Tag to Folder” which puts the current tag you have open on your home screen as a folder.
This is an app for power users with loads of apps and the need for tags and level functionality. Definitely an app for the advanced user.