App Spotlight, Episode 1 - Nova Launcher

This will be the start of a new series I'm starting on my blog. As the name suggests, I'll be highlighting one of my favourite apps in each episode. I won't be covering the best apps in the market though, as I don't have experience with each and every one of them. I'll only cover what I feel are the best apps in my own collection, which I have used for quite some time. Also I won't be covering games. Games to me is a whole separate category of apps with its own sub-genres. Different gaming genres will appeal to different people, which would make writing spotlight posts about it difficult. I want to focus on services and productivity apps, which I feel will benefit a larger audience. To get the ball rolling, a category of apps which I feel every Android user should use; custom launchers. My personal favourite, Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is one of the most used custom launchers on the Android platform. There are of course, other launchers which offer similar features like Apex Launcher and ADW Launcher. Then you have the more advanced launchers like Next Launcher 3D and SPB Shell 3D. A launcher in simplest terms, is a homescreen replacement. It is not an alternative OS. It runs on top of your device's current OS and offers an added layer of customisation and functionality. The best way to explain what a launcher is, is by sharing with you what a launcher does

Gesture input
One of the added functions a custom launcher offers is the use of gestures on the home screen. Gestures like a swipe down, swipe up, double tap, pinch in etc can be used to launch apps, open the app drawer, go into settings, activate voice search, anything really. This is very useful and can help clear up space on the home screen. I use a double tap to launch the app drawer and a swipe up to access my settings. I don't need an app drawer icon or a settings icon on my home screen anymore. 

Support for custom icons and swipe actions
Stock icons are nice, but sometimes you want to be able to change the icons on your device. A custom launcher makes that possible. Just download an icon pack from the Play Store and replace the stock icons. It's very easy to do. Different icons can make your home screen look so much better. And with the perfect combination of custom icons, widgets and matching wallpaper, you can have beautiful home screens. In addition to having custom icons, we can also assign swipe actions to certain icons. As an example, we can make it so tapping the SMS icon will launch the app, but swiping the icon upwards will instantly open the "compose new SMS" window. We can even make one icon launch two different apps. Tapping the camera icon for instance can launch the camera, and swiping up will launch the gallery. 
Just 3 of the many icon packs available for download

Custom transitions
Transitions are a small part of what makes the experience of using a mobile device cool. The animations when scrolling through our home screens or in the app drawer, animations when opening and closing an app, even animations when switching between open apps can make us go wow. After months of the same animations however, we tend to overlook them. They no longer excite us. Replacing the animations however can bring that excitement back. 
Cube transition on the home screen
App drawer customisations
You can do more in the app drawer other than just selecting custom transitions and custom icons. You can set the transparency of the background, either having it fully black, fully transparent or even semi-transparent. You can hide apps you won't access from the app drawer (like the settings app if you have assigned a gesture to launch it), clearing up unnecessary clutter. You can group apps into folders or tabs, or both, making finding apps much easier. 

Tabs on top (favs, apps, widgets), folders in the drawer
(games, system tools), and a transparent background
Many other small things
There are many other customisation options which are made available with a custom launcher. Not to mention other functional additions as well. Multiple scrollable docks, or no dock at all. Changing the number of rows and columns of the home screen or app drawer grid. Changing the size of icons. Changing the way a folder looks. Having a persistent search bar on every home screen, or not. Have a scrolling wallpaper, or not. Infinite scrolling. Hiding the notification bar. I could keep going but you get the idea.
Editing icon size, folders, and home screen shortcuts

All these options really make you feel in control of your device, and it makes it so no two devices are the same, ever. Custom launchers can give you so much power over your device it's mind-boggling. All without rooting and flashing custom ROMs. Things you never thought you could do on your Android device are easily made possible thanks to custom launchers. Some of the features I listed above are available for free, some are only available in the paid version of Nova Launcher. If you are serious about making your device your own, I highly recommend you buy the full version. It is a good investment and as long as you use Android, you will forever be in control of your device. 

Popular posts from this blog

Are we witnessing the downfall of Apple?

5 differences between the black and white Nexus 5

Why Telegram is better than WhatsApp