The popular invite-only contextual launcher Aviate upgraded today from Alpha to Beta. It's still invite-only, but it's definitely worth looking at, as one of the most powerful alpha products I've ever used just got even better. (Did I mention we have an invite code good for 500 invites later in the post?)
The team behind Aviate promises that, besides new features, the beta launch means that the full wait list of users will be brought on board, with all users getting five invite codes to dole out to friends.
Several days ago, I started a series of rumor posts on my personal Google+ account discussing some Android rumors I felt were interesting enough to share, but didn't feel confident enough yet to do so here on the site. The posts were heavily prefixed with disclaimers that none of them may turn out to be true but that I had a certain level of confidence to talk about them in public unofficially.
The flick-gesture for quickly opening the camera app on the Moto X and new DROIDs has been repeatedly highlighted by Motorola. And like any buzz-worthy feature in an upcoming phone, it's been almost immediately duplicated. Twisty Launcher popped into the Play Store last night, promising to deliver a customized version of this gesture-based feature, with the added benefit of being compatible with any device or app.
The name "launcher" is a bit of a misnomer - Twisty launches apps, but it isn't a homescreen in any way.
Nova Launcher is one of the most popular home screen replacements out there, and the developers are hard at work ensuring that this doesn't change any time soon. The latest update introduces even more ways to customize every aspect of your launcher's appearance. Anyone who makes the jump to version 2.2 will gain the ability to add backgrounds to their docks, customize the look of their unread badges, and dabble with new scroll effects.
The latest trend in Android user interface modifications is the gesture-based meta-launcher, a way of quickly launching and switching between huge numbers of apps. My personal favorite is still SwipePad, but the current fashion is for Holo-style, scrollable sidebars. Appsi is the latest among these, but differentiates itself with a ton of customization and plugins.
First of all, the setup process is a lot simpler than similar apps, allowing the user to easily move the activation areas with a more graphical UI, instead of adjusting numbers or sliders.
Aviate Launcher, if you haven't heard of it, is a new home screen replacement that looks to offer you information right when you need it and which is, at the time of writing, in the middle of an invite-only alpha period.
After receiving my invitation recently, I was anxious to take the launcher for a spin. I have no doubt it will improve as it progresses toward a broad launch, and there are a few drawbacks, but it is already one of the best alpha products I've ever used.
App drawers suck. Okay, that may not be universally true, but for the sake of this hands-on, lets all agree on this premise. Once we install apps from the Play Store, it takes way too long to find them, and once we're done, it can be bothersome trying to remember which app we installed before that one. After a couple of months, that clean app drawer can grow to become six, seven, and even eight pages long.
Yandex isn't a household name in most areas, but if you live in Russia, chances are pretty good that you've at least heard of the Google and Amazon competitor. A few months ago we brought you news of an updated version of Yandex's customized launcher and dialer combination, Yandex.Shell, at the time only available in Russia. Today it's free to download for everyone with a spiffy new English localization. New features for the update include the standard bugfixes and an experimental hardware acceleration mode.
One of the more interesting alternative launchers out there (that is to say, one that isn't just a grid of apps and widgets plus a drawer) is Action Launcher. This premium custom launcher has been gaining fans since its launch, thanks to a unique gesture-based app drawer and a focus on speed and usability. With version 1.7, developer Chris Lacy has added some of the features this younger launcher lacks, most notably icon theme support - the various theme packs for GO, Nova, and Apex launchers should work with Action Launcher Pro now.
TeslaCoil Software's Nova Launcher has become one of the most popular custom launchers for Android power users since shortly after the arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich, and part of the reason is the constant addition of new features. The latest revision (2.1) adds a whole lot of goodies, especially if you like to play around with the look and feel of your icons and themes. The release adds features both for free users and those who've bought the $4 Nova Launcher Prime.