Last Updated: October 23rd, 2012

Since Nova Prime made its way into the final day of Google's 25 Billion promo, we thought this might be a good time to share a lesser known feature of the custom launcher. Much like many Google apps/services, Nova has a "labs" menu that makes available some useful tweaks which aren't quite ready for prime time (get it?).

Within this hidden menu, you'll find things like the ability to increase the maximum grid size (from 7x7 to 16x16), toggles to add any size widget to the dock, force 180 degree orientation, UI Lock, and a couple of widget restore and resize options.

Screenshot_2012-10-01-10-50-21 Screenshot_2012-10-01-11-05-49 Screenshot_2012-10-01-11-06-19

So, how do you access this super-secret area? It's really simple, actually - while in Nova's settings menu, hold volume down for 2-3 seconds. You'll see a toast notification letting you know that Labs was successfully enabled. Similarly, if you wish to disable the new menu for any reason, just hold volume up for 2-3 seconds.

If you've been considering a switch to Nova from another custom launcher but though it lacked features in comparison, this may be the answer to that quandary. Give it a shot, and let us know what you think.

Thanks, vgergo!

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.

  • mattdonders

    Thanks - didn't know this existed. This is really neat.

    • John

      Hell ya. Pretty cool. I grabbed the Prime yesterday, like many, and I'm very happy with all the unlocked features.

  • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

    Still less features than Apex, for me!

    • http://twitter.com/MothyWing Tim Wing

      Like what???

      • Sam Lee

        Features in Apex that are missing in Nova which I like are:
        1) Infinite scrolling in app drawer
        2) Disjoin drawer tabs

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

      I compared both of them for a while and ended up rolling with Nova myself. What's missing in it that Apex has?

      • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

        (I'm responding to you since it's the latest comment)
        First of all, support for Tablet Mode: on my Nexus 7 it's really a thing of beauty to tap a setting and instantly have search/voice search, google now and no dock. In a pretty packet, also. I know I could do this also in Nova, somehow, but I'd have to tinker with custom widgets, settings and stuff (tbh I tried to recreate the same Tablet UI, but I failed).
        Another great thing: support for other launcher themes. There's an icon pack I totally drool over (Metro Inspired Icon), which sadly for Nova doesn't work. If I could run the Apex version, I'd probably switch over.
        Other minor things aside, that's the two main "issues" I have with nova. I tried the Prime version, to clarify.

        • Thomas Wolfe

          You're dumb. Icon packs work fine. I have metro now

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            Thanks for the politeness! I always love how people are reasonable while on the Internet!
            However, I'm pretty sure you're note talking about the same icon pack I'm talking about. Since you're obviously a reasonable person, this conversation HAS a meaning. I eagerly await your witty and smart response.
            Yours Dukko.

        • ElfirBFG

          :/ Oh no, not 'tinkering' how difficult. You can set gestures to toggle the dock and to do voice search.

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            Yeah, not exactly the same.

          • ElfirBFG

            I'd have to see pictures side by side to understand I guess. The way I see it, everything you're harping about is easily doable with 'tinkering'.

      • xnadax

        One thing I miss from Apex is the option to always keep Nova in memory.
        My phone likes to kill off processes pretty quickly, and I notice that I
        often have to wait for half a second for Nova to launch when pressing
        the home button. I never had this problem in Apex after enabling the
        'keep in memory' option. Other than that I really like Nova.

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

          Are you on a more recent Android version? This may be placebo effect as I'm not sure there are any good options to make the OS stop killing the app outside of lowering the memory requirement or displaying a notification icon (which neither launcher does).

          • Omar Salmin

            Definitely not placebo, I always experienced redraws on my Galaxy Nexus on JB. I installed an app called 'RAM Manager' and enabled an option to keep the current launcher app in memory. No more redraws running Nova on CM10 for the GNex.

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      I'd like to know what's missing from Apex as well. I compared the two a while ago and went with Nova if there is something that apex has that nova doesn't I'd like to know

      • Monkey D Karel

        For people without a creditcard. Apex IMO is the way to go. You get alot (read; ALOT) more options in the free version of Apex then in Nova.

        • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

          Ok, I so your just saying the free version has more options not the paid versions of each?

  • munky

    Works with the Free version of Nova as well

  • http://www.facebook.com/rmkattan Rami Kattan

    I like Nova, when I wanted to switch from stock I found that Nova was the best that suited me, and I even bought the premium version at full price.

    main reason was that I wanted a tablet launcher that has a dock, and it was one of the few to support this.

  • Ian Howells

    'Restart Widgets' on Resume' sounds interesting....all the Google Analytics widgets I've tried stop working after a short while with JellyBean on my Nexus S. I will give it a try and see if that solves the problem.

  • evcon

    The $.25 sale got me to switch over to Nova from Apex. Well, that and doing a wipe when installing AOKP build 4. It just seems smoother. I'm a fan of the any-size-widget-in-dock Labs feature!

    • https://twitter.com/#!/doomstang Doomstang

      The sale got me to switch from Apex to Nova too...and I put Nova Prime on my gf's E4GT as well as my dad's ATT SGSII

  • suv

    awesome - great tip! Thanks.

  • Jacob Kellenbenz Dupont

    So now my question is how do we join the private betas especially if we own prime

    • John

      Just enable Beta update checks in "check for update - options menu"

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6706714 Ofir Fatal

    Does anyone know how to use the gesture "Rotate counter-clockwise" and "clockwise"? I feel like a dummy but I can't get things to launch this way even after enabling the setting

    • Evan Musfeldt

      You have to use two fingers and rotate, took me forever to figure it out too

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6706714 Ofir Fatal

        Awesome, thank you!

  • sgtguthrie

    Nice... Didn't know this was there :-)

  • iTKe2k

    anyone know a way or a launcher that can use a live wallpaper for the home screen while using static images for the rest of the screens?
    a* visual description:

    • Jon Garrett

      sounds like something somebody at XDA might be able to do.

    • jusatin

      There's a lwp app that let's you have different static picture for all the home screens (MultiPicture Live Wallpaper), not sure if it can't handle a lwp on one page. Like Jon said, try looking in XDA (or message the developer of the app).

      • iTKe2k

        yea i know about MultiPicture Live Wallpaper, it cant :/
        i looked, and posted a topic there hoping maybe someone have seen something similar
        i also made a feature request for that in nova

  • http://profiles.google.com/andrewc513 Andrew Chandler

    Well that was weird... enabled it on Nova Prime on my Thunderbolt, it made the fonts garbled everywhere in the launcher(homescreen, drawer, settings). Reboot fixed it, but that was strange..

    • Artur Martins

      I have a i9300 where that happens a lot of times... And i didn't enable any labs..

  • adauth

    Been using Apex pro and probably will continue to, but for $.25 I might as well pick up Nova prime too.

  • Itchy_Robot

    Is there any way to make the actual icons bigger? I know you can increase the grid size, but I don't see any way to make the icons bigger.

    • http://twitter.com/stonew508 Walter Stone

      decrease the grid size is one way.

  • Dwayne

    I use Apex Pro and am very happy with it. I may get Nova to to have it too. I might even like it better, who knows? The thing I really wanted to comment on though it how great it is that we have options and really good quality apps like both Apex and Nova!

    • Jon Garrett

      better grab Nova now while its only 25 cents. regular price is $4

  • Royal2000H

    I saw a theme pack on Google Play that changes the dock background (it's a Sense theme). There's even screenshots showing the new dock background. Does that only work on Apex? I'm trying to apply it to Nova and I get the icons but not the dock background.

    • http://twitter.com/stonew508 Walter Stone

      currently you cannot change the dock background in nova, you can in apex.

  • http://twitter.com/jcratuita Joel Ratuita

    This one saves my day! Worth the purchase with this hidden menu!