The launcher on Android 4.0 is quite nice when compared to what Google was shipping before. If there is one complaint, it's that the stock launcher is a little light on features. But that's what custom home screen replacements are for, right? We took a look at Apex Launcher when it first came out and were impressed with the initial release. Now Apex Launcher Pro has appeared, bringing with it even more customization.

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Apex Launcher Pro comes with all the goodies from the free version, like a customizable grid, scrollable dock, transition effects, and locking the desktop. The Pro app fills in some of the gaps with features including:

  • Multiple configurable drawer tabs
  • Unread count notifications
  • Dock swipe gestures
  • Two finger gestures
  • More transition effects
  • Batch add option for folders
  • Option to merge folder contents
  • Widgets in dock (1x1 only)
  • Overlapping widgets
  • More features on the way!

I'm particularly interested in the configurable app drawer tabs and widgets in the dock. Some of the limitations with the free version still apply here. For instance, you can only get widgets in the drawer if you are rooted. This is just an unlocker app, not a full app of its own. That means you will need to keep the free Apex Launcher installed when you buy the Pro key. Be aware, a restart of the home screen might be required to make the upgrade take.

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Apex Launcher is going for $3.99 in the Play Store, which is in-line with similar ICS-themed replacement home screens like Nova Launcher.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • RampageDeluxe

    I already paid $4 for one ICS launcher, I'm not doing it again. If they were available sooner, I would be saying this about Nova. 

    • Jerry Lange

      Which did you buy before? I'm undecided on which launcher I want as ONE feature in adw is preventing me from leaving 

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        From what I've been reading in the last few months, Apex seems to be the crowd favorite by far. Nova is probably 2nd.

        • diem

          Apex seems to be the favorite because it offers more features in the free version. However, smoothness-wise Nova really wins in my opinion.

          • ericl5112


          • Freak4Dell

            Yup, that's my opinion as well. Nova was definitely snappier, but Apex contains more features in the free version.

          • uansari1

            Same experience here.  I actually installed Apex first, because everyone was lauding it for its features in the free version. However, Apex was noticeably laggy. I then tried Nova and was hooked.  I'll take smooth and snappy over laggy with a few extra features I won't use anyway.

      • Shane Allen

        I tried both Nova and Apex launchers, and preferred Apex.  Give both of the free versions a spin, then compare premium features.  You'll probably have a clear favorite after that.

        • Jerry Lange

          I like that you can have 2 docks in the same screen, but have one hidden and swype up to get the 2nd dock to come up.. know what i mean? i'm usually bad at explaining things. :/

          • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

            Huh? ADW's removed that feature long ago. It just has one infinitely expandable dock now.

            Hmm... Or does the free version of ADW still have that? I know ADW EX doesn't for sure.

      • RampageDeluxe

        I bought Nova. I prefer Apex, so if you haven't bought one, I'd pick that up. What feature is it that you are stuck on? There's really only nominal differences between them now. Nova does seem slightly more snappy though. The app drawer categories is done much better in Nova. 

    • Yong Wen Chua

      I bought Nova before I realised Apex existed. Currently, Apex has the  widgets in the drawer like stock ICS which Nova says can't be done unless rooted. 
      Hopefully Nova will update with new stuff so that I won't be tempted to spend more money on Apex =X

      • bigjay517

        Directly from the APEX description page.

        "Note: Due to limitations of the Android framework, you won't be able to
        add widgets from the app drawer without root access. If your device is
        rooted, please enable the Root Helper via Settings > Advanced
        settings > Enable Root Helper."

        • Yong Wen Chua

          I must be an idiot. I installed Apex, saw it there and I just assumed it worked without root. When I tried adding the widget, it then tells me that it can't be done because I'm not rooted.

      • RampageDeluxe

        Apex says that it can't be done without making it a system app. You're right about Nova adding more features. I recently switched to Apex, but now that I have to pay for the full features, I wont miss it. 

      • ericl5112

        Both Apex and Nova require root.  They've presumably run into the same issue.

  • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

    I have always been a Launcher PRO guy, but after the 4.0 upgrade I wanted to go back to stock, but this looks so good I think I will give it a whirl this weekend.

    • http://www.facebook.com/GVMike Mike Rash

      This is superior to LP.  I've used LP since the OG Days and this has blown that shit out of the water.

    • Shane Allen

      I've got to agree with Mike Rash: LP was awesome once upon a time, but Apex is the new hotness for ICS.  Additionally, while LP is supposedly still in development (I visit the support forum once in a while), it's been months--maybe around a year--since the last update.

      • RampageDeluxe

        Its actually been 13 months. 

  • Northstar17

    Apex > Nova

    At this time anyway.

    • ericl5112

      I feel the complete opposite.  Having tried both, I'm sticking with Nova.  It's not a features thing, I get frequent freezes and crashes with Apex on both my Transformer and my Captivate on ICS, on multiple roms.  Feature wise, they seem pretty much at parity, don't they?

  • spydie

    personally I prefer Nova... I think it looks better and has more options in the free version.

  • bigjay517

    I'd love to have a way to import my home screens from one to the other so I could easily try them both.  I'm tempted to make the switch, so I am going to test out the free version.

  • Portartur2

    Does it have an option for icon base background? My reason to stay with Go Launcher is the uniformity of icons with themes. I just cannot stand icons being all over the space....

  • Jason

    Was just about to buy Nova when I read the comments below.. thanks guys, will give Apex a good run first.

  • s11

    I don't buy many apps. But this one is well worth the $4.00. Best launcher in my opinion. And I've tried pretty much all of them.

  • Gabriel Féron

    Anyone out there managed to add customized tabs, I must be very stupid, I can't find the way to do it :D

    • Greg Bissell

      yes go to the app drawer and long press up top by the tab descrptions

  • http://twitter.com/kuyanyan Yanyan

    The one thing Nova has over Apex is the capability to add folders in the app drawer. 

    • pdude77

      Hopefully that feature will be added soon. 

    • Greg Bissell

      huh? you can do this now in the pro version of apex... i just created a games folder in my app drawer

      • uansari1

        Nova's got it in the free version though...

  • Xajel

    Sadly it's not available for 2.3.x as I'm still waiting for ICS but I would love to have a sleek and light ICS themed launcher... currently I'm using Go Launcher default theme but I couldn't find a theme that fit's.. there's some ICS themes but I didn't liked them...

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

    Observation of my own...Just based on comments I've seen over the last couple of months and my own personal experience, it kinda looks like Nova might be more often the favorite on tablets while Apex is a bit more popular on phones.  With my tablet, I care more about the smoother animations of Nova.  I'm still holding off on upgrading my phone to ICS (without CM9 available for my phone yet and hacked replacements still look questionable, there's no good option so far), but I would prefer the organizational features of Apex for that.  The thing that bugs me, at least from trying Apex on my tablet, I did run into a lot more crashes than I think there should have been for something you rely on as much as a launcher...but that experience is based on testing from more than a month ago, so new versions may be faster and more stable.

  • Ryan Pearson

    apex on my gs3 doesnt lag whatsoever considering people have been saying it lags.

  • Ashik

    It DOES NOT support folder, but u can add multiple tabs, it actually s better than folders for me.. I dunno abt others..

  • Guest

    Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to launchers. I'm quite happy with Nova Prime.

  • gfacekilla01

    Thank you very much!!