So you don't like the launcher that shipped on your phone? There are alternatives, and far and away the most popular one is Nova. The big v4.3 update has been in beta for a while, and now it's out for real with a number of important changes.
Google released the second Android N developer preview update yesterday, and it came with a new folder icon. Instead of the stack, you have a clipped array of the top four app icons in a circle. Here we are a day later and the new Nova Launcher v4.3 beta already offers those folder icons as an option.
Gather ‘round, gather ‘round! The time has come to answer the age old question: What’s on your phone? I get this question A LOT, but I don’t answer it often since it changes so much. I thought I’d take a bit of a spin on it and also show you what I did to make a particular device (in this case the S7 Edge) really feel like my own. I’m convinced there’s a metric here. For now, I’ll call it the ‘make it work’ factor. This comes from my days living in NYC.
There comes a time when the launcher on your phone doesn't cut it anymore. Whether you're bored of the lack of customization in the Google Now Launcher, or you're annoyed by the superfluous elements of LG's launcher, or you want a more stock Android feel on your Samsung or HTC or Asus or other brand phone, Nova Launcher is one of the best alternatives you can turn to. The app has been a staple of the Android platform for years and years, evolving as Android grew and changed, and adding innovative features like icon normalization and more with time.
Nova Launcher Prime, the unlock key that enables gesture actions, unread count badges, custom drawer groups, app hiding, icon swipes, and more scroll effects, usually costs $4.99.
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.