A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at Nova, a new launcher for Ice Cream Sandwich devices that brings some nice features over the stock offering. Another new launcher designed for Android 4.0, dubbed Apex, landed in the Store this morning and it, too, is pretty incredible. I spent some time playing around with it earlier today; here is a quick look at what Apex has to offer.

Apex is definitely heavy on features, including:

  • Customizable homescreen grid size and up to 9 homescreens
  • Scrollable dock with up to 7 icons per page and up to 5 pages
  • Infinite & elastic scrolling (homescreen, drawer and dock)
  • Fancy transition effects (tablet, cube, etc.)
  • Hide elements as you want (persistent search bar, status bar, or even the dock)
  • Customizable icons and labels for shortcuts and folders
  • Choose different folder preview styles and background
  • Multiple drawer styles (transparent/opaque, horizontal/vertical, paginated/continuous)
  • Drawer apps sorting (title, install date, mostly used)
  • Hide apps from the drawer
  • Lock your desktop to prevent accidental changes
  • Enjoy homescreen gestures (pinch, swipe up/down, double tap)
  • Backup/restore settings and data
  • Optimized for both phones and tablets
  • Lots of other customization options!

Screenshot_2012-03-08-16-45-35 Screenshot_2012-03-08-16-50-29 Screenshot_2012-03-08-16-45-41

As you can see, it brings a lot of worthy features to Android 4.0 handsets - but it's not without flaw.

The biggest downfall of this launcher is that it can't add widgets from the tray to the homescreen without manually being pushed to the system partition. Sure, that's not a huge deal, but I'm just not sure why the dev didn't just have the app request root access, much like Nova launcher does.

Despite that one downfall, Apex is the new default launcher on my Galaxy Nexus. It's fast, fluid, and offers a ton of features without an overwhelming amount of bloat. If the dev adds full root support, this launcher will probably be pretty close to perfect.

Update: Here's the wallpaper from the screenshots/video:


Here are the widgets:

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Richard Néveri

    I like it, and actually makes me sad, the nexus is beautiful :)... my phones screen broke during using it :( like a bad miracle... anyway keep going with the gr8 reviews really like to read from you guys... best regards (Slovakia)

  • Chris

    what's that wallpaper you have in the screenshots? link? :)

    • Cameron Summerson

      Added it to the post. Enjoy.

      • Chris

        Great, thank you!

  • Edward

    It's incompatible my Tf101 with ics... Somebody knows why?

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

    Adding confirmation of weirdness with tablets. The Play Store is refusing my Galaxy Tab running CM9. They may have an error in their manifest.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

      I just checked and they've fixed the tablet issue, I can now install it without a problem.

  • Lon Lawrence

    So I'm confused... what's with the new ICS Launchers? Why not stick with launchers that do EVERYTHING... much more than the new ICS launchers, have a great track record and work on all versions of android, including ICS? Like Go Launcher, ADW and my favorite, Launcher Pro? They are already fully developed. Don't they work on ICS? I thought they did?

    • Ravi Shah

      because the look of the ics launcher is in many people's opinions a lot better than the look of go launcher adw launcher pro etc.

      • Norbert

        totally agree. imo, go launcher looks amateurish compared to stock ics launcher. apex, nova and trebuchet extends the capability of the stock ics launcher.

  • Joshua Banks

    How would you compare this to Nova launcher?

    • Abhishek

      One lil thing is in Nova launcher to have swipe actions you have to purchase the Prime version. While here in Apex the gestures are provided in the free version itself....and i so wanted them...so just switched to Apex from Nova ;)

      • Jaschart

        Apex doesn't seem to have Swipe on drawer icons though. My $4 went to Nova.

    • Cameron Summerson

      Having used both, I actually prefer Apex to Nova.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody Toombs

        I just spent most of the day with Apex, and there's no doubt the features are superior (locking the screen, nice fine control, etc), I seem to find a bit too much stuttering and it feels slower to use. I also felt that a few of the simple little things on Nova were a bit better thought out (location of buttons, adding widgets and so on). I've switched back to Nova for the moment but I'm definitely keeping Apex installed for the next few versions to see if they work out some of the bugs.

  • http://noonski.nl/?p=5748 Noonski

    Does it do Widget overlapping ?

  • Zac

    Lags like hell in the app drawer when I change the open transition animation.

  • Esteban

    Aparently is incompatible with OG Transformer w/ ICS and HTC EVO 3D. That really sucks. I was looking forward to installing it.

    • Simon Belmont

      You do realize this requires Android 4.0, right? Unless you're rooted and on an ICS based ROM with your EVO 3D, it isn't going to work.

      I just tried it on my EVO 3D running an alpha ICS ROM, and it works great. Smooth as glass.

  • Lon Lawrence

    OK, no replies... and since it doesn't install on the first and most popular ICS device on the planet (Transformer Prime), I guess they can pretty much stick this program. Back to Launcher Pro that does more than this does on ICS.

    • Norbert

      you can download the apk from the apex xda thread.

    • Liz

      Now working. Had no problem Apex to my Prime last night, but couldn't a couple of days ago.

  • Root_me

    This is the ADW Laucher, with a few tweaks. Anyone who has played long enough on the ADW will recognize all of the same features; Widget resizing, adding screens, changing drawer. I have ADW on an UNROOTED Thunderbolt stock gingerbread and it does all of this.

    • Robert

      This is to get all of those features but have the look and feel of the new ICS launcher. Something the Thunderbolt doesn't have.

  • https://steamcommunity.cim/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    Been using Launcher Pro on my Nexus S before upgrading to ICS, and I just gave a shot to Apex.

    Works wonderfully so far and I was surprised to see it being free.

    Finally got rid of that search widget at the top of the screen :P

  • http://cramitman.com Justin Cram

    looking forward to having ICS on my Razr Maxx which I already love. ;-)

  • http://cramitman.com Justin Cram

    concerning apex I'm just looking forward to having ICS on my Razr Maxx which I already love. ;-)

  • Ishken

    Anyone know why the CM9 ICS (Kang and unKanged) run on a different Linux kernel from the Galaxy Nexus and maybe this is what is causing the incompatibility.

  • Brare

    How is my Asus transformer with ICS not compatible??? Oh and I'm using the beta right now. Wtf?

  • h

    what is the power control widget in the video?

    • Felix

      Widgetsoid from what I can tell

    • Cameron Summerson

      It's Switchpro.

      • Latise

        Awesome. Digging it over Extended Controls.

      • Latise

        This is not running without hiccups but overall I like it over Nova. Great post. I'm using Apex and Switch pro now and very satisfied.

  • h

    also the weather and battery widgets

    • Cameron Summerson

      Just updated the post with the widget details.

  • TareX

    Do you get improved homescreen transition famerates with LWPs as with NOVA launcher?

    • Ryan B

      I'd like to know this as well

  • Mike

    After having removed the default Google search bar from the top of the homescreen, can you place apps in the empty space left from the search bar?

    • dave

      yeah of course you can

  • Nikhil

    Somebody please provide the apk.

    Market (Play) won't allow it to be installed on my Nexus S running CM9 :( :(

    • jbyeung

      here you go, thanks to the apk downloader extension :)


      • Nikhil

        Thanks a lot! I didn't get the downloader extension... heard Google has a policy against such access to Play.

  • Saurav Ghosh

    What's special about this launcher? Last Beta I used couldn't even set a 480x800 wallpaper! And customisations? Well what happened to Go?

  • Latise

    Thanks for the review. Using it now. Prefer it over Nova so far, for one because it puts more space between the widgets and the top edge of the screen than Nova. What are the power toggles in the video?

  • Freak4Dell

    This one pretty much crippled my phone, whereas Nova is incredibly fast. It may be because this appears to have more features than Nova (or maybe Nova has them, too, and I just don't use them), but regardless, I'm sticking with Nova.

  • kph3

    Nova was buggy on my GNex...I got a lot of random reboots. Have Apex installed and running now 2 days...no reboots so far. I am removing Nova. This launcher is fast.

  • Latise

    After running Apex for a few days, I switched back to Nova Launcher after the last update. Nova added height margins and just runs faster for me. Apex was a bit buggy (duplicate dock icons, missing homescreen, missing labels, force closes) and sometimes lagged on either switching homescreens or in the app drawer, forcing me to force stop it. I'm keeping it installed though (just frozen) so I can switch back as updates happen.

  • FernMar

    How do you rearrange home screens?


    What really sucks about this wonderfully. potentially great app is that, using Android ICS, this launcher error messages that I cannot drag a widget to a homescreen "based on ICS/Android restrictions." C'mon! That's utter horse$hit! If you're baiting us to pay for your full app, well, better to bait those who are less familiar with stock ICS options. BOO!