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.
Update 8/27/14: The new features are now out of beta and available to everyone, just 5 days after the beta release.
Nova users, there's some good stuff happening in the beta channel, so if you're not already aboard that ship, now's a good time to jump on. Today's beta update is a good example of why: it brings some killer new transition animations and app drawer search for those who just have too many pages of apps to swipe through (*cough* Artem *cough*).
That's just one example of the new animations, as the update also includes slide up, zoom, and fade options.
There comes a point many, many months after the release of a new version of Android where devoted users just can't quash the desire to get their hands on an even newer version. A preview of Android L is already available for download, but unless you are willing to flash your device and put up with any number of potential bugs, I wouldn't recommend installing it on a phone you actually need to use. But this doesn't leave you without options. The talented folks behind TeslaCoil have sprinkled some of Android L 's style all over the latest version of the Nova Launcher. They've slowly added these features into the beta since L's debut, and now things are ready to go stable.
The folks over at TeslaCoil have been hard at work. Just a week or so after testing a ton of small but significant changes in the 3.0 beta release of the popular Nova Launcher, they've expanded them to the full Play Store version. Check out our breakdown of some of the more significant additions for more details. But there's one more trick up its sleeve for the general release: the "OK Google" hotword.
This is the same functionality that's been in the Google Search app for a while, and Google added it to the new Google Experience Launcher for the release of the Nexus 5.