If you’re using an Android phone without a 3rd party launcher, you’re completely missing out on the best that Android can offer. If you don’t know, a ‘launcher’ on Android is what powers your homescreens and your main app menu. New launchers can be installed easily, like an app, and can also be removed just as easily – they don’t require any hackery or anything to get going, and are an easy to way to dramatically improve the experience.
There a DOZENS of 3rd party launchers that you can pick from, but I prefer Apex Launcher, and highly recommend shelling out for the Pro version. It gets you some extra features, and also supports the developer. Let’s walk through some of the key settings:
This is where you can make changes to your homescreens, such as the number and order. You can also adjust the number of ‘spots’ for widgets/shortcuts, and a few other things.
Grid (Portrait/Landscape) – I keep mine set to 5×5 – this means I can have 5 rows of 5 icons on each homescreen, and more importantly, for my OCD tendencies, gives me a ‘middle’ position, whereas if you have 4×4, there’s no single ‘middle’ spot.
There are a few other settings here that you can tinker with. You’ll want to take note of the Wallpaper section – this can allow you to make the wallpaper stay the same on all your screens, or have it scroll side-to-side as you flip through your homescreens.
You can also hide elements here – I have the icon labels hidden, for a more clean look on my homescreens.
This is where you can make changes to your app drawer, or your main menu. The first option is the most important – hidden apps. You can use this to choose which apps stay installed on your phone, but are hidden from the main menu.
If you have apps on your phone that you cannot uninstall, but don’t use, this is a great way to keep them out of your sight. I also use this to ‘hide’ any apps for which I have a shortcut on my homescreens, to avoid redundancy.
Drawer Style is also a great option – you can choose to have a single, vertical-scrolling page, like previous versions of Android, or you can have pages. You can also manage the ‘tabs’ across the top, if you would like. I’ll walk through my homescreen setup in a later post.
This is where you can make changes to your dock (the row of icons along the bottom of your homescreens). You can actually have several docks, if you’d like, and you simply swipe side-to-side to switch between them. You can also adjust the number of icons on your dock, which can be handy.
The rest of the settings include Behavior, Theme, Notification, and Advanced settings. I typically don’t tinker much in these settings – the default settings are usually good, but there are some fun options in there.
Later this week, I’ll show you my launcher settings, and explain how they help me get more done.