Action Launcher doesn't just tweak the Android home screen paradigm like most other launchers do – it creates new features that change the experience. It was already one of the more interesting launchers in Google Play, but it was lacking some features. Each update fills in the gaps more, and this is a big one.

2013-06-07 14.39.02 2013-06-07 14.39.32

Among the most notable additions in v1.8 is the option to configure the home screen grid size. Until now it was limited to 5 rows on phones and a few more on tablets, but now you can go up to 12x12. Coupled with that is icon scaling so you can still press everything with the grid size cranked up. The way screen layouts are imported and backed up is also vastly improved, which is awesome if you switch launchers or devices often.

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Action Launcher's hallmark feature, Shutters has been improved with the ability to manually configure which widget opens. You can even add Shutters to apps that don't have their own widgets. Additionally, Ice Cream Sandwich users can add Shutters to their home screens, but they must be manually configured each time. Here is the full changelog:

  • NEW: The widget displayed on a shutter can be changed by clicking 'Change widget' on the shutter's popup menu.
  • NEW: Any app shortcut can be configured as a shutter, whether that app has a widget or not. Just pick up and put down the shortcut in the same grid location, then select 'Create shutter' from the popup menu.
  • NEW: Shutters are available for Ice Cream Sandwich users. Given ICS's restrictive widget APIs, users are required to select the widget to display in a shutter, but this is better than nothing.
  • NEW: Increase the max grid size to 12x12 for phones and tablets.
  • NEW: Add the ability to scale the size of Home screen icons.
  • NEW: Desktop layouts can be backed up and restored to and from an SD card.
  • NEW: When importing a layout, display a 'SD card backup' import option.
  • NEW: If an SD card backup exists, assume this is a returning user and don't display the tutorial on the app's first run.
  • NEW: Swiping up on a Home screen will reveal the Recents window.
  • NEW: Added a donate option (as requested by multiple people).
  • NEW: Sense layouts can be imported.
  • CHANGE: Reorganize the sections in the settings. Quickdrawer, Home screens, and Dock now all have their own dedicated settings pages.
  • CHANGE: Shutters have graduated out of Labs and into the Display settings group.
  • BUG FIX: Adjusting the grid size no longer radically adjusts the height of the Home screens.
  • BUG FIX: Swiping down to open the notification window works on HTC One devices running Android 4.1.
  • BUG FIX: The bundled Stock Jelly Bean icon pack correctly applies for the HTC Phone app.

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See? It's a ton of stuff. The update is live in Google Play, so go and grab it. At first blush this update still seems perfectly snappy, and the reorganized settings page makes it easier to find what you're looking for. If you haven't bought this app yet, do consider it.

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

  • http://www.vinsonimages.com yamaha83

    i wish i would have bought this when it was on sale....

    • Sven Joy

      Same here! I would love a free sale for this like for Next Launcher 3D (which sucks)

  • wildkarrde21

    I'm sure it's a great app, but why is there no free version to try out? That has always been my number one requirement for trying a launcher (and I've bought more than I can count...)

    • Matthew Fry

      Yeah. I want to try it too. Oh well. Maybe the dev will change his mind at some point.

    • ltredbeard

      This almost stopped me from buying it as well, but eventually I picked it up. Missing a few features, but it is my default launcher now.

  • Jeshter

    Just Buy it it wel worth the money never going to a other launcher again. Just love it how fast it is!

    • Matthew Fry

      Ok. You swayed me. Also. It's awesome.

    • selonmoi

      I'm floored by the number of people who'll spend weeks or month agonizing over a $4 purchase.

      • Sean Royce

        The only reason I won't purchase it is because I won't take advantage of the features it has to offer. Nova prime was perfect for me.

    • dextersgenius

      Not until it gets the ability to customize individual icons.

  • Phill_S

    This added the only big features I thought the launcher needed.

    The only things missing now to make it as fully featured as the competition is the ability to change individual icons and app names.

    • dextersgenius

      Thanks for the helpful post! Not being able to change the icons is a big deal-breaker for me.

      I like the direction Action Launcher is taking but until it reaches feature-parity with the other mainstream launchers, I can't see myself using it.

      • Phill_S

        You can use icon packs, but individual icons cannot be changed.

        Fwiw I think it is ahead overall on features due to shutters, covers and the action draw which once you get used to it is a more elegant solution than the app drawer most launchers use.

  • dextersgenius

    Does this launcher support folders and importing data from other launchers?

    • Matthew Fry

      yes and yes. Well... depends. It imported sorta from touchwiz. Says in the changelog that he added importing from sense. It definitely has folders.

    • Phill_S

      Folders are limited to 16 apps, it imports data but it wasnt all that great when I tried previously a couple versions ago before I fully went for AL uninstalling Nova Prime.

      However the approach in getting the most out of AL means you shouldnt be importing data over. Imo it is the perfect minimalist launcher but it achieves more than most launchers can manage whilst being minimal.

      Get used to using the action drawer instead of folders for lots of apps because it is really fast to slide out the drawer, tap the first letter of the app then select it in the list. Only use folders to combine apps into a theme and only the most used ones you need to get to quickly.

      Using covers means in the dock you can have a single icon like GMail that acts normal when tapped but when you swipe up on it you can see a folder of other lesser communication apps behind it like Messenger or Dialer.

      Then make use of shutters so you can have four app icons in a row or in a shutter but when swiping up on them you can see the widget for that app. Essentially you can have the equiv of several homepages of widgets in a very small amount of space using shutters.

      So in essence what I consider optimal (your mileage may vary) is a five or six icon dock with a few other regularly used apps behind them in cover folders themed for entertainment, info, communications and Keep and Touch Cal on their own for quick info retrieval, a widget for Google Now and a couple of HD Widgets sat on the home screen and that is it. But on that one page I am one or two swipes or taps away from 5 shortcuts and 19 regularly used apps, most of which have widgets I use very to fairly often depending on what it is and I can quickly slide out the action drawer for lesser used apps. Doing this in Nova would have to take up at least five homepages in a much less elegant way.

  • taxi333

    I <3 Nova :)

    • Sean Royce

      Pretty much where I'm at.

  • Could be Anyone

    Love this update aince it brings so much good stuff to action launcher and it keeps getting better and better since it is actually inovative unlike holo, apex and nova and uses less ram then all of them.

  • johnstan

    I got 5 words for you: Not available in your country...

  • Rob Caldecott

    This launcher is the best thing to happen to my Nexus 4 ... ever! The Shutters feature alone makes it with every penny.