Nova Launcher has been on the top of the heap when it comes to third-party launchers for a few years now, but you have to drop five smackers for the full version... most of the time. Coinciding with the release of v4.2 (previously in beta), Nova Launcher Prime is on sale for a mere $0.99 in the US and even less elsewhere.
People were understandably excited when Nova Launcher added icon normalization to the beta app. This feature automatically scales app icons to make the sizes more visually consistent. It's been a few weeks, but icon normalization is ready for prime time as part of the new v4.1 update in the Play Store.
Everyone was pretty jazzed about Nova Launcher's icon normalization feature when we previewed it last week. At the time we were told a week or two for the beta, but it's live already. If you're in the official beta program, the new version should be rolling out to you now. We also have the free version of Nova on APK Mirror.
Google has always encouraged developers to design their app icons with a "unique silhouette." This gives designers the freedom to come up with neat stuff, but there are drawbacks. For example, icons that are just weird sizes and look out of place on your device. Well, there's a new Nova Launcher feature coming that could fix that. "Icon normalization" is in private alpha now, and it's coming to the beta channel very soon.
Nova Launcher is easily the top pick for conventional Android home screen replacements, and a "daily driver" for a good chunk of Android Police's staff. The latest update added a Material Design user interface, but there are other goodies hiding just below the surface. For example, version 4.0 includes a simple app search function hidden in the app drawer. It's especially handy if you've got hundreds of installed apps (like Artem) or just don't like organizing your apps into folders (like everyone else).
To activate the search bar, just drag down from anywhere in the app drawer. It's the same gesture used to refresh the page or service in some Google apps.
You've got a zillion choices for home screen replacements on Android, but Nova Launcher has consistently been one of the top options for the last few years. It was starting to look a little dated, though. After a number of beta updates, the stable v4.0 redesign is ready to bring your home screen into the material age.
When it comes to alternative launchers based on the standard Android homescreen design, I think it's safe to say at this point that Nova Launcher is the best available. But developer TeslaCoil isn't resting on its laurels: the app is constantly being updated, tweaked, and improved. Today the biggest update to Nova Launcher in years is going out on its Google Play Store beta channel... and yes, it has Material Design.
Among many, many other improvements. Just about every portion of the app has been expanded or tweaked. Visual elements have been borrowed from the Google Experience Launcher, and the whole thing has been recoded onto a newer, faster Launcher3 base.
When I switched over to Lollipop on my Nexus 5, I was too lazy to transition back to the Google Now launcher to get that Lollipop aesthetic. Instead, I stuck with Nova, knowing that eventually I'd get the look on TeslaCoil's third-party launcher. Well, today's the day, assuming you're running the beta version of the app.
It's a pretty simple tweak - just jump into Nova's options, head into the Drawer section, and tick the "show pages as cards" button. Done and done.
Other than that, the changes are few. Here's the full log:
3.3beta1 Nov 19, 2014
-Lollipop style drawer (Settings - Drawer - Show Pages as Cards)
-Renamed old Circle animation to Circle Wipe, added Lollipop style Circle animation (requires Pages as Cards)
-Fixes and optimizations
Nova Launcher continues to let you emulate the Google Now Launcher while enjoying a plethora of customizations options. The newest version brings Lollipop animations and icons, along with a few tweaks to the existing functionality.
Here's the thing about customization on Android, or any other interface for that matter: it's time-consuming. Whenever I try out a new launcher, I end up testing every option and toggle just to see if I like it, which inevitably means bouncing back and forth between the homescreen and the Settings menu for the launcher to see the results. It takes forever, which is why I've generally given up on fun things like themes and icon packs.
It's also why the new animation preview on Nova Launcher 3.1, now available in beta, is so nice to see. It's not a huge feature, just a little animated window that appears at the top of the pop-up settings menu for the launcher transition animations.