08
Jun
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If you're fortunate enough to have Ice Cream Sandwich on your smartphone (either officially or unofficially), then you already know that the stock launcher is a huge improvement over previous versions of Android. However, it's not perfect.

Enter my personal favorite third-party launcher for ICS devices: Nova. This isn't the first time that we've mentioned Nova Launcher on AP, but it just received an update that definitely brings some note-worthy enhancements to an already-great application.

Changelog:

  • Color Themes, change the blue accent
  • Icon Themes for all apps (ADW and Go Icon Packs)
  • Widget overlapping w/ send-to-back/bring-to-front
  • Lock desktop w/ temp unlock
  • Faster widget loading
  • SGS3/TouchWiz workarounds and fixes
  • Fix FCs
  • Performance improvements
  • Updated translations

While all of the new features are nice to have, the first three really stand out: color themes, icon themes, and widget overlapping. When combined, these three things will bring the ultimate customization experience to your ICS device.

Screenshot_2012-06-08-14-17-00 Screenshot_2012-06-08-14-16-33 Screenshot_2012-06-08-14-16-16

Basically, changing the color theme modifies the color accent throughout the launcher to whatever you like - it won't change colors throughout the rest of the system (like in the notification bar), but it can easily bring a little more pizazz to your homescreen.

Similarly, the icon theme changes, well... your icons. The cool thing about this, is that it supports both ADW and Go Launcher icon packs. Neat.

Finally, we have Widget Overlapping. I used to love this feature on Launcher Pro back in the day, as I used it to create some rather intricate homescreens by overlapping several widgets. Back then, though, it was a major pain, because you had to add widgets in a certain order to get them to layer the way you wanted. Changing your mind about how you wanted it to look meant having to start over. Quite frustrating.

Not with the overlapping feature in Nova, though; now you can easily select whether to send the widget to the top or bottom, which is a godsend for any homescreen modder.

Otherwise, this update brings a handful of other enhancements, like faster widget loading, the ability to lock the desktop, and some overall improvements to the way the launcher works.

This update definitely makes an already-good launcher even better, so hit the widget to check it out (if you haven't already).

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. 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- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://twitter.com/kevinbushman Kevin Bushman

    Nova or Apex what's your poison?
    Edit: I still can't decide which to pay for.

    • John

      eh?
      Nova.

    • http://twitter.com/LyricallyVodka Chaz Edwards

      I haven't really tried out apex but the developer for nova doesn't abandon his apps. He also plans to have widget locker and nova launcher integration in the future.

    • DrewNusser

      Personally, I prefer Nova.  It seems to be smoother and more stable.  Apex has a lot of configuration options, but Nova is catching up there, too.  Nova also seems like it gets updated with new features all the time, which is a good thing.

  • John

    I think it's time for me to purchase the Prime version of this app. I've been using it for a while, and I can only hope the dev doesn't run away like Fede did with LPP last year =P

    • Chris Webster

      Fede's music player was the best music player I've ever used. I'm happy I still have the .apk to it, since he never put it on the market

      • John

        I suppose. PowerAmp is hard to beat.  I guess having options is nice.

  • Ron Amadeo

    Awww man, this is exactly what I've needed from Apex, I just want to suck the color out of the little blue accents so it matches the rest of my (white) theme. Get on it guys!

    • mesmorino

      Have you tried Nova? Which is better?

      • fixxmyhead

        apex cuz it has gestures
        u should check it out. the pro version is worth it

        • mesmorino

          Cool, I'll check it out. Thanks!

        • http://twitter.com/thesacbunt The Sacrifice Bunt

          Nova has gestures too.

          • fixxmyhead

            still prefer apex. it has more downloads too :P

      • patapongirl

        Apex has the hidden app function too. But it's locked in Nova until you've purchased the app. 

        Not that I'm discouraging anyone to support the developers but I thought it's worth mentioning.

      • patapongirl

        Apex has the hidden app function too. But it's locked in Nova until you've purchased the app. 

        Not that I'm discouraging anyone to support the developers but I thought it's worth mentioning.

  • Sarah Puls

    Neat-o!  Just updated my Nova.  Not sure when I'll  use widget overlap, but it's still a neat feature.  The color scheme changing is right up my alley though!

  • Spydie

    don't be cheap... pay for both like me.  Then you can switch back and forth between the pro versions as each gets a leg-up on the competition! LOL

  • Philip

    How is it on tablets? 

    • Lake510

      Use it on my Sony tablet S, just need to remove the dock and it looks awesome

  • Steve Freeman

    Well, ADW icon packs actually don't work, at least the one I've tried doesn't. It doesn't even show up in the Icon Theme listing.

  • Zaeem S.

    I really, really love Apex Launcher. Especially because I use GO SMS and it can show me a little notification icon on my GO SMS icon when I receive a text message.

    • http://twitter.com/psych2L Joseph Lee

      nova does that too lol

  • Jasopan

    I'm also on the fence with Apex vs Nova

    I'm leaning toward Nova because from what I've read they have FOLDERS in the app drawer unless someone can correct me otherwise.

    Any other opinions?

    PS: What's wrong with GoLauncher? I've been using it for about 4 months and it's pretty amazing tbh

  • PointZeroOne

    I was using Nova on my Galaxy s3 but was getting weird performance issues, back to using ADW and it's all good

  • merman1983

    Overlapping widgets is exactly what I needed. Fantastico!
    I've tried both and Apex and Nova are very close in what is offered for the paid versions - Apex offers a bit more in the free version. I was told to go with Nova for RAM usage - not sure if this is backed up by fact, but I was told I'd get better performance with Nova - anywho loving it - no complaints.