When I went hands-on with Facebook's new launcher a few days ago, I stepped away pleased with the overall experience, but felt that it lacked a lot of the features a power user (or even a regular user who does stuff) would like. Still, I found the "lock screen" functionality to be a very pleasant experience – turning my phone on to nothing more than a scrolling photo and the time is very minimal and relaxing. I even made the comment that I wish I could use it as my lockscreen and return to Nova for my actual launcher. Turns out doing just that is actually extremely easy.
Looks like it's been quite a busy day for the guys over at TeslaCoil software: they just pushed updates to both Nova Launcher and TeslaUnread, the add-on app that allows Nova and WidgetLocker to display unread counts. The two updates go hand-in-hand, so let's start with the latter.
TU's update brings support for several more services, including Samsung Email, HTC Email, AOSP Email, Motorola Email, K-9, Google Voice, and Google Reader. It also adds support for multiple GMail accounts. Yay!
Along those same lines, Nova was updated to support unread counts for all the aforementioned apps, as well as a few other bug fixes:
Include Android 4.1.2 changes *
Fix Transparency on Samsung Jellybean
Fix blank desktop when leaving drawer
Fix icon pack crash on some HTC devices
Fix drawer not correctly remembering position
* Note: The setting for auto-rotate remains at Nova Settings > Look & Feel > Screen Orientation > Auto-rotate
If you're already a Nova user, the updates are now live in the Store.
One of the biggest drawbacks to new versions of Android is that it can take forever for the new features to roll out to current users. For launcher-specific items, though, we can always count on developers to bring us up to speed. Nova Launcher has done just that with several Jelly Bean-esque add-ons to its ICS-compatible app, including automatic rearranging of desktop elements, and the ability to fling apps and widgets away to remove them from your homescreen.
Here's the full list of what's new:
Fix preview screen
Misc minor fixes
Jellybean launcher features (Works with ICS)
-Desktop automatically rearranges to fit
-Long-press then fling to delete items
-Project butter related enhancements
Import from other launchers
Custom drawer grid size
Uninstall on quick menu
- Smoother scrolling
- Faster load
- Reduction of memory usage
- Reduction of APK size
The update is available via the Play Store and should be a welcome addition to anyone running a skinned launcher on an ICS device.
If you're fortunate enough to have Ice Cream Sandwich on your smartphone (either officially or unofficially), then you already know that the stock launcher is a huge improvement over previous versions of Android. However, it's not perfect.
Enter my personal favorite third-party launcher for ICS devices: Nova. This isn't the first time that we've mentioned Nova Launcher on AP, but it just received an update that definitely brings some note-worthy enhancements to an already-great application.
- Color Themes, change the blue accent
- Icon Themes for all apps (ADW and Go Icon Packs)
- Widget overlapping w/ send-to-back/bring-to-front
- Lock desktop w/ temp unlock
- Faster widget loading
- SGS3/TouchWiz workarounds and fixes
- Fix FCs
- Performance improvements
- Updated translations
While all of the new features are nice to have, the first three really stand out: color themes, icon themes, and widget overlapping.
Budget smartphones are a lot like those miniature cans of Coca-Cola you'll find on supermarket shelves - cheaper by the half-dozen than their higher-volume counterparts, but with the obvious catch that you're getting less sweet, delicious corn-juice for your dollar. It doesn't take more than 30 seconds to stop, think about this, and realize that even if you won't finish the big 12oz can during your lunch (or don't want to drink that much soda), you're still basically paying more for choosing to buy less.
This is how budget Android smartphones often work, except they're more like buying a six-pack of those Coke minis with one can missing, and a couple more that have pretty obviously been dropped at some point.
The stock launcher in ICS is, without a doubt, the best launcher that Google has ever produced. It offers some great features that previously required the use of a custom launcher, like customizable dock shortcuts and drag-and-drop folder support. Despite being a definite improved over its predecessors, it's still not perfect.
With that in mind, the devs behind WidgetLocker took the ICS launcher to the lab and made it even better. The result is a blazing fast new launcher called Nova Launcher. Nova builds off of the stock 4.0 launcher while retaining the same look and feel, but brings advanced customization and improved features to all Android 4.0 handsets.
During the LG press conference (see our live coverage), LG officially revealed to the world the Optimus Black Android smartphone, previously known as Optimus "B."
This upcoming looker features a brand new NOVA display technology, which LG touts as "breakthrough, brightest, clearest, and most readable among mobile screens, with 700 nits of brightness (Nit: a unit of luminance equal to 1 candela per square meter)." The NOVA display supposedly performs very well under strong sunlight and uses up to 50% less power compared to LCD screens and AMOLED screens that are displaying a totally white image (AMOLED doesn't use energy to display blacks).