One of the most powerful ways you can take control of your smartphone and really set the tone for your mobile user experience is by switching up your launcher. There are plenty of alternatives out there, from big, popular options like Nova Launcher to the small and obscure. Last year we saw the fondly remembered Apex Launcher make a surprise comeback, with a series of new updates arriving after two years of radio silence. Now, one year later, another update is out, but this release may single-handedly be destroying Apex Launcher's legacy.
The Apex Launcher 4.0 update arrived a bit earlier this week, published to the Play Store with little more than the note that this was a “long-awaited major update.” While it's true we've been waiting the better part of a year for this release, and it does make some major changes, we were expecting those changes to be, you know … positive.
Instead, what we've seen is an absolute trainwreck. Apex Launcher's Play Store entry is now littered with one- and (some extra-generous) two-star reviews from users complaining about everything from constant crashes, to randomly shifting icon sizes, to unwanted app drawer changes. There also appears to be the groundwork for a new monetization scheme, pestering users with app recommendations. Maybe the biggest issue, though, is that the update is deleting existing settings without warning, undoing hours of hard work users spent getting their handsets configured just so.
Our first-hand experience with the update hasn't been quite so dire, but between disappearing features and a move to unfamiliar widgets this really doesn't feel like much of an upgrade to us. We may be just be lucking out there, as the distinct impression we're getting from this mountain of user reports is that the updated app is incredibly buggy, losing its proverbial shit with essentially no provocation and subsequently behaving in very unexpected (and unwanted) ways.
What's a fan of alternate launchers to do? Well, you could wait for Apex to get its act together, but honestly the ship has probably sailed at this point. Add up the huge gap between updates, and the amateurish quality of this new release, and it's hard to end up at a place where Apex Launcher is still worth a lot of our time. Considering all the other (and better) options out there, maybe it's time to look into a new launcher. Or if you simply must relive some Apex Launcher glory days, APK Mirror has the old (and much less rage-inducing) versions of the app.