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Action Launcher is something special. The home screen replacement made its debut a short three months ago in December, and found its way into our hearts as one of (if not the) best app of the month. What makes Action Launcher a great replacement is that it's unique – AL is totally different from any Launcher we've yet seen, and it earns that distinction with a couple of signature features: first, all your apps are a quick slide away. Second, your home screen can have "covers," or folders that behave as the app on the "cover" when tapped, but which expand to a full selection when swiped.

Adding a third distinguishing (revolutionary?) feature to that lineup, developer Chris Lacy updated the app to version 1.5 today with "Shutters." Of course, there are many more improvements in the update (including full tablet support), but shutters are certainly the headlining feature. In short, shutters are collapsible widgets. Citing the underutilization of widgets in normal Android launchers, Lacy introduced shutters to unlock "the power and functionality of Android's widgets."

Screenshot_2013-03-27-18-21-11 Screenshot_2013-03-27-18-22-46 Screenshot_2013-03-27-18-21-38 Screenshot_2013-03-27-18-21-46

Like covers, shutters will behave as the app of your choosing when tapped. When swiped, a full, totally interactive widget will expand. What's more, users can put shutters inside covers (or regular folders). Here's Lacy's own demo:

If you've never tried Action Launcher, there's never been a better opportunity. Just hit the widget below for the app.

Source: Chris Lacy (Google+)

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Zak Taccardi

    that's incredibly cool. wtb this for nova launcher!

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    You can create "covers" in Nova Launcher as well, they're just not given a special name. But Shutters looks like a genuinely cool feature which I haven't seen before in other launchers.

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

      You can collapse widgets into app icons in Nova?

      • TheFirstUniverseKing

        I'm preeeeetty sure I never said that.

        • Ravengenocide

          He must have misunderstood. You clearly said Covers and not Shutters.

      • Haedocynic

        In Nova, you can launch an application by swiping a folder up, and normal click to open the folder. I think that's the same thing as these "covers". The shutters seem to be unique. Though I wonder whether having more widgets in memory and synchronizing won't wake up the phone more and use more CPU/RAM/battery + data...

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

          I'm using Nova, and I just tried it, but it doesn't do what you say for me. It just doesn't launch anything when I swipe up on a folder.

          • Haedocynic

            Sorry, you need to configure the folder: Long click on the folder, click Edit, then select a Swipe Action.

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

            Just tried it - the implementation is quite bad, not nearly as usable as Action Launcher's. I'm not going to use it the way Nova does it now.

          • Haedocynic

            Oh, how is it worse? I've never used Action Launcher myself, so I wouldn't know how it was different/better.

  • TheEnemy

    Doesn't seem to be a free version of the app to try out. Am I not seeing it?

    • MacMan156

      There isn't one

  • http://twitter.com/BeingHiitesh Hitesh

    I never bothered to try Action Launcher when it came out, but watching the video above I must say this is innovation at its best. Its this out side the box thinking that makes android truly special. This is why Android is Android. Bought the app to support the Dev. Good Job :)

    • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

      Thanks so much for the support :)

      • Carlos E. Torres

        hey make one more sale, so I might buy it :P
        And your launcher is damn good

        • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

          I don't have any plans for a further sale. Honestly, given the sheer amount of time I've spent thinking about and developing this app, and what you get for your money, I don't think $4 is an unreasonable amount of money to charge for it :)

          • JLM

            Cool launcher. Just gave my 5-star review. Mentioned some ideas, like a similar wideget search by app by letter and an easier way to put the apps you want in a cover versus dragging them over. The main implementation I'm thinking of is making a games folder.

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

      Same here - picked up the app after this, it's truly a game changer and an innovation I haven't seen from a launcher in a while. No gimmicks - just exactly what I need to start using widgets more. It fixes the problem of widget sizes that made me use very few widgets perfectly.

  • Dan Wilczynski

    Wish I could test drive this for about a week before committing - I've grown pretty accustomed to my nova setup.

    • Telefunken

      A free trial version would be great. If it's as good as it looks then it's inexpensive but at the same time a lot of money to throw away if I don't like it after 5 mins.

  • nsnsmj

    I'd consider using Action Launcher, as it looks like a great launcher, but I just can't stand having an action bar on my home screen. I find it kinda ugly (on the home screen, looks great in apps). Can it be hidden?

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      It can be hidden altogether, or made transparent so you only see the action bar buttons.

    • Tíghearnán Carroll

      Yeah it can be toggled on and off by tapping a blank part of the screen. There is no way to permanently hide it though.

  • nawa

    I guess Ron (and me too) will be happy to hear that app's and folder's names are leveled correctly now. :D
    Speaking seriously, these features are things I like Android for. Android powah!

    • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

      That was actually an AOSP bug!

      • nawa

        I know, it makes the fix even cooler :)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Oh really? Fantastic.

      • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

        Yes, fixed. I'm still amazed this was/is an issue in AOSP.

  • EH101

    I'd say shutters is the only legitimately great feature in this launcher. Covers were ok, but really unnecessary in my opinion. And the side bar for apps is just pointless. Nevertheless, this guy is obviously full of ideas, and I can't wait to see what else he dreams up. I'll be sticking with ADW EX until then.

  • PCSievers

    I think the launcher is really imperfect and could do with ripping off some standard features in Nova and other mainstream popular launchers.

    But that shutters feature is awesome. I love widgets but I hate having them strewn across multiple homescreens so this seems to be the best of both worlds.

    Seems worth the money, even if I go back I feel it is a launcher to keep an eye on in the future, but I think I can dig it and see how it effects my workflow after I get it running how I like.

    The number of settings is really weird. At this point I expect to be wholly overwhelmed by options at first.

    • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

      I am not trying to compete with Nova on settings, but rather by adding unique features.

      • PCSievers

        Which is fine, awesome in fact, but there are some basic stuff missing that would improve the launcher a lot. Having a larger possible grid size, a scrollable dock, a shortcut to manage apps on the first level of settings for uninstalling stuff and allowing more than 16 apps in a folder for example.

        The point of expecting to be overwhelmed with settings at first is that a great launcher should let you modify and adjust a lot of stuff.

        • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

          In my experience, when people start really using covers/shutters and the quickdrawer/quicksearch, they will come to see that there is in fact little need for things like having >16 items in a folder or a scrollable dock.

          Manage Apps is in the first level of the settings. Also, I will soon increase the max grid size on phones.

          • http://twitter.com/FelixErik Erik Felix

            I've bought the app after it was featured here for the first time and while the app is very revolutionary, I can see where he's coming from.

            for example, when I want to uninstall an app that's on my homescreen, I can long-press it, slide it to the trash can icon and uninstall it from there. A feature like this seems to be missing in Action Launcher, I still have to long press, select the app there and choose uninstall. That's not terrible or something, but little features like those can make a difference in day to day use.

            However, with new revolutionary features like covers and shutters, this app is worth its money!

          • JLM

            I like the idea of using folder to categorize, do you have any ideas on a better way. In the message I sent earlier I was thinking specifically for a games folder.

          • PCSievers

            Fwiw I hope you take this as constructive criticism with the goal of giving you feedback on my perceptions. I like the quick drawer instead of an app drawer that pops up on other launchers and "shutters" is a really awesome feature.

            I like having all my games in one folder. Mixing games and other apps in the slide out action drawer is less than ideal for how I like to organise.

            While I understand that folders are a usually bad way to organise either this functionality or some way to segment the quick drawer with a tab at the top would help me a lot and I assume it would help some portion of users too.

            Another bug I have noticed is if widgets have different names - such as Samsung names their calendar widget Calendar but the calender is S Planner there doesnt seem to be a way to connect them back together as a shutter. Or if there is a way I cannot find reference to how or havent found it through trial and error.

  • Forcemaker


    /me feels uncomfortable that people make /my ideas work... gotta go working on my Java skills ... :/

    well, actually it's about progress, isn't it? So, do progress! :-)

    • Forcemaker

      Well, I'd like to have widgets in widgets. That way it should(!) be possible to bring this feature to any launcher?

      Actually, I'd like to have Tasker or just any app capable of launching "shortcuts" to open a widget or even a widget screen (difference: widget screen takes more than one widget, just as a home screen does).

      • JLM

        I really liked quickdesk also but it stopped working.

  • Niall Mullins

    That is f@!&*ing awesome.

  • Wayne Randall

    Wow! Very impressive Chris! I am glad I skipped the sale you had going on a short while ago, you certainly deserve the full price of your app. This is genius development. Be right back, headed to the Play Store!

  • Bruno Milhomem Jr.

    Hey Chris, i know copy Nova features is not your goal, but it would be nice if you let us choose the "color of the launcher" like Nova do! I really like green, and i theme my CM build to be "Holo Green", and i would like to choose the color of the page marker and stuff at Action Launcher. To be true is the only one thing that i need to choose it as my main launcher! Keep the good work!

  • Cody Herring

    This is every sense of the word amazing. I just bought this app about 30 minutes ago and keep playing with everything in it because its just so awesome. This feels like how Android stock launchers should be on every Android phone. Its clean, elegant, and very powerful. Fantastic job, Chris Lacy, This is truly a one-of-a-kind, game changer application for Android. I look forward to seeing future updates.

    • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

      Thanks so much!

  • TK

    If the developer would add support for icon themes, like Minimal Miui, I'd purchase this in a heartbeat. I haven't been able to work out if they work with Action Launcher, so I've been hesitant, but if anyone can help me out...

    • http://twitter.com/chrismlacy Chris Lacy

      Theme support will come very soon.

  • MyNameIsLOS

    Holy...Chris Lacy is an amazing developer...he has a way of seeing new things the way I want them to be before I even know I want them. This actually kind of reminds me of Live Folders (remember those?), except shutters are what Google REALLY meant to do with them back then.

  • azvin

    This launcher is amazing!!!
    I don't think it needs to be more like nova/apex, those launchers are about maximising android customizability while this is about streamlining the interface for usability.
    I'm definitely using this as my daily driver and will be recommending to others
    This is great stuff, and I'm glad to support it.

  • Jack Roberts

    What Wallpaper Is That ?

  • Samvith V Rao

    "I'm sorry but isn't this totally losing the point and functionality of the widgets? Get infos at first glance without the need to open or click anything..."

    That comment echoes my sentiments. The G+ widget for instance - now why would I want to go to the widget in the same number of clicks that I do for the app?

  • AK

    Just bought this, and while I really appreciate the blinds and the app drawer on the left (both are really slick), it's missing way too many features that Nova offers. I'd like to be able to do the following:

    - Adjust the size of app icons
    - Add more rows / columns than what is currently allowed
    - Be able to use the space that is currently occupied the Search bar, when it is not displayed
    - Scroll left and right in the dock
    - Hide notification bar
    - Hide the Action Launcher icons that appear over the top of the app icons (in the lower left corner), this would make the home screen much cleaner.

  • http://twitter.com/Atyp3 David Steven

    Does AL have gestures? Gestures are my main thing in apex that I need. Swiping icon gestures are also a main need for Apex Pro. I might try AL if it has these key features.

  • ThorsWrath

    fantastic! just got the app.

    only thing missing to make it a perfect launcher for me is the ability to "lock" the launcher. i.e to prevent accidental removal or movement of icons while swiping the screen

  • No

    Hi, I want an option to make that bar on top (where google play, search and settings are located) be invisible, as well as the status bar to make use of the screen real estate. could you add that to an option please?