While December was a huge month for Android games, you can't say the same for more standard apps - despite a large number of new apps that came out, only a handful were all that interesting or innovative. (Heck, one of our apps below is specifically meant to record video games!) For what it's worth, here are the seven most interesting and/or innovative apps that came out this month, and some others thrown in for good measure.
Most of the AOSP-based custom launchers operate in roughly the same way, but Action Launcher has always been different. Right from the beginning it offered cool ways to manage your apps and widgets, and it only got better over time. That app was based on the Jelly Bean-era Android launcher, and it was time for an update, according to developer Chris Lacy. Action Launcher 3 is a complete rewrite of Action Launcher that brings with it new features, but also drops a few (at least for now).
Most third-party home screens simply add on features to the standard launcher experience, but Action Launcher has always been a little more innovative. While it has a lot of neat stuff like Shutters and the Quickdrawer, it has been missing one of the basic features of a custom launcher – unread counts. Well, now it has arrived, albeit in beta form.
Action Launcher developer Chris Lacy has rolled into the latest beta a feature that just appeared in Nova Launcher two days ago. After signing up for the beta and getting everything good to go, just hop over into the app's settings to toggle the feature on. From then on, you can say "OK Google" from the homescreen to have it pull up a Google search a la the Google Now Launcher.
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.
Among the most notable additions in v1.8 is the option to configure the home screen grid size.
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.