While December was a huge month for Android games, you can't say the same for more standard apps - despite a large number of new apps that came out, only a handful were all that interesting or innovative. (Heck, one of our apps below is specifically meant to record video games!) For what it's worth, here are the seven most interesting and/or innovative apps that came out this month, and some others thrown in for good measure.
Most of the AOSP-based custom launchers operate in roughly the same way, but Action Launcher has always been different. Right from the beginning it offered cool ways to manage your apps and widgets, and it only got better over time. That app was based on the Jelly Bean-era Android launcher, and it was time for an update, according to developer Chris Lacy. Action Launcher 3 is a complete rewrite of Action Launcher that brings with it new features, but also drops a few (at least for now).
Most third-party home screens simply add on features to the standard launcher experience, but Action Launcher has always been a little more innovative. While it has a lot of neat stuff like Shutters and the Quickdrawer, it has been missing one of the basic features of a custom launcher – unread counts. Well, now it has arrived, albeit in beta form.
Action Launcher developer Chris Lacy has rolled into the latest beta a feature that just appeared in Nova Launcher two days ago. After signing up for the beta and getting everything good to go, just hop over into the app's settings to toggle the feature on. From then on, you can say "OK Google" from the homescreen to have it pull up a Google search a la the Google Now Launcher.
Android fosters a wide and varied app ecosystem, enabling companies both large and small to produce compelling software. The ability to write an app and easily distribute it to most of the world has given rise to independent developers like Chris Lacy, the man behind Action Launcher, Tweet Lanes, and most recently, Link Bubble. Chris took some time to answer a few questions and tell us a little about his experiences developing apps for Android.
Action Launcher is one of the more distinct alternative home screens for Android. Instead of grafting new abilities on a standard launcher setup, the developer has created some innovative features that change how you use apps and widgets. Version 2.0 is just out and it's adding even more goodies.
Action Launcher is one of the more interesting home screen replacements out there, and it's getting better with a big update to version 1.9 today. There are a few new features, but the app has also gotten a plethora of bug fixes and optimizations that should make it faster and more stable.
Action Launcher doesn't just tweak the Android home screen paradigm like most other launchers do – it creates new features that change the experience. It was already one of the more interesting launchers in Google Play, but it was lacking some features. Each update fills in the gaps more, and this is a big one.
Among the most notable additions in v1.8 is the option to configure the home screen grid size.
One of the more interesting alternative launchers out there (that is to say, one that isn't just a grid of apps and widgets plus a drawer) is Action Launcher. This premium custom launcher has been gaining fans since its launch, thanks to a unique gesture-based app drawer and a focus on speed and usability. With version 1.7, developer Chris Lacy has added some of the features this younger launcher lacks, most notably icon theme support - the various theme packs for GO, Nova, and Apex launchers should work with Action Launcher Pro now.
Alternative launchers have been on Android since the beginning, and most of them have made their name by taking the stock experience and piling on new features. Action Launcher is a little different. This app shakes up the UI conventions of the Android home screen, and it's really got some good ideas. The new update fixes a few niggling issues with the way apps and widgets are added to the home screen.