Alternative launchers have been on Android since the beginning, and most of them have made their name by taking the stock experience and piling on new features. Action Launcher is a little different. This app shakes up the UI conventions of the Android home screen, and it's really got some good ideas. The new update fixes a few niggling issues with the way apps and widgets are added to the home screen.

Adding new app shortcuts or widgets to Action Launcher before this update was perhaps the most clunky part of the experience. You'd have to open the customization menu and scroll through the list to find the items you wanted. This bypassed the best part of Action launcher – the slide out app list. Simply swipe from the left edge of the screen and your apps are revealed in a super-fast scrollable list. You can now press and drag apps out of the list onto the home screen. Widgets are also accessible from this pane with a swipe to the right. Action Launcher also supports locking home screens with this update so you don't mess up your carefully arranged setup.

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These changes come in addition to Shutters, which were introduced in the last iteration. Shutters make an app's widget accessible from the home screen icon. Just swipe up or down to trigger it. It will take some getting used to (especially with that action bar on the home screen), but Action Launcher is really neat.

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. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Gustavo Parrado

    Awesome!! I love action launcher ^_^

  • Mike Hermon

    Love action launcher, I've tried a ton of launchers this is by far my fav. Was well worth the $4 and change

  • SHeadius

    Happy with Nova, would like to try this out though. Can't see myself paying $4 for a tryout though...

    No free or trial version?

  • GraveUypo

    the icon would fit a piano app much better.

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

      Finding an icon that everyone likes is pretty much impossible unfortunately.

      • jaunie ibarra

        Couldn't you just allow for customization of icons? Also icon notifications (displaying number of unread messages) would be great!

  • http://twitter.com/pertzepzioa Aditya Krishnan

    not worth of 4$. Swapps! is a better choice

    • http://kawangeek.com/ EddyGeek

      you forgot the 'shutters'

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

        And covers... And quicksearch...

  • http://www.theupload.geek.nz/ the Upload

    Awesome App but maybe he needs to either (a) loosen up on video or (b) hire someone else to do his videos, he mad me feel uncomfortable just by watching him.

    • bse88

      He is looking directly into your soul

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

      I'll certainly admit I'm a better programmer than video host. Hiring someone else to do the videos would both take time and slow me down, so I opt to go with this solution.

  • Always Online SUCKS!

    How do you add not make the app drawer transparent.

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

      Download the 1.6.2 update :)

  • http://shanked.me/ Shank

    I'm mixed on the update. I really liked the holo dark theme that was on the quick app drawer - it added a nice bit of contrast to the background. That being said, adding widgets is pretty sane now, so...

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

      I added a tinted background option in 1.6.1.

      • http://shanked.me/ Shank

        Hi Chris,

        I actually noticed the tinted option in 1.6.1, but I still loved the "holo dark" option more. Honestly, it looked very clean and provided a good contrast between homescreen and apps, something that the tinted option doesn't do as much.

        I'd guess that the reason for not adding it back was the quickdrawer widgets? It looks like a problem that exists in code rather than a purely functional removal.

        Edit: For reference, it's the same reason why I love settings in holo dark - it looks like a "backstage" view compared to the normally bright colors of Android.

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

          The main reason I removed it was because I think it looked crap now that the action bar no longer moves off screen.

          • Not always on #dealwithit

            I rather have the holo dark background or at least the option to add your own background so those who want holo dark can have it again.

  • Phill_S

    Took me a bit of time to settle into AL, but after some bugfixes and changing my workflow with apps I have quickly become a big fan of it. The changed action drawer with apps and widgets is a great improvement.

    Now all it is missing is a larger gridsize and a way to link widgets to apps when they are not named identical - Evernote being a prime example of this problem.

  • Vivek Kabra

    Whats the weather widget in the screenshot?

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

      4x2 Beautiful Widget.

  • http://twitter.com/philipleaper Phil Leaper

    Is it just me, or does this feature seem a little limited in how much it can improve your experience? Personal perspective, I set up my home screen once and pretty much just leave it there, I might download a new app and have to decide where to put the widget, but I certainly don't rearrange the home screen often enough for an improvement in the efficiency of the process to be a big win for me - I'd say significantly less than 1% of my time.

    If this is the best feature they have to offer me, i'm sticking with Nova

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

      Fair point. I was personally very surprised how much this improved my workflow with the app. That said, this is not the 'best feature' of the app, just the big new feature of this release. Watch this for an demo of what I consider the best features: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJJynAG3jQQ

  • http://kawangeek.com/ EddyGeek

    Apparently dont support icon pack,, waiting for this feature :D
    for now using Xposed framework - Icon themer to customize the icons.

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

      Theme support will arrive in 1.7.

  • paxmos

    Developer is an arrogant guy...

    • rion0123


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

      I'm not at all arrogant (IMHO), but it's interesting that this video gives this perception.

      • vodanium

        you just need to blink sometimes :-) or keep away from filming your face directly. I like though that you always present the new features.

  • Always Online SUCKS!

    Honestly after trying the update for a while the update to v1.6.1 made the launcher suck I mean if you hide the action bar then your app drawer just hovers there, when you flick to scroll it doesn't fully scroll and just stops 1" away from the end or beginning of the list. Also not to mention that there is no way to separate your app and widget tabs and its easy to accidentally flick right into the widget tab if you didn't want to.

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

      I fixed this in 1.6.2.

      • Not always on #dealwithit

        Could you also make a way to separate the app and widget tab because it is very easy to accidentally go into the widget tab when you don't want to.

  • Dehemke

    Would be interested in a trial version. I love Nova, but wouldn't have bought Prime untested.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nope.notatall.1 Nope Notatall

    Does anyone know if there's a way to turn off the widget part of the app drawer? It's great for getting a screen set up, but once it's set up it just seems to get in the way.

  • Steve

    I like the app. Good workflow. One request though. Will it be possible to use notification badges on icons? Like gmail, SMS, calendar for example.
    Used to useNova and loved the badges.
    Thanks and keep,up the good work.