You know what Android is or you wouldn’t be here. You may not know what a ‘Launcher’ is. Launchers actually form a large part of your experience of your phone. They are as fundamental to your experience of your device as your phone plan is – you can’t do a lot unless you have one. Launchers are an aspect of your ‘user interface’ (the look and feel of your Android phone) that you interact with every day.
What is an Android Launcher?
If apps were your clothes, your launcher would be your wardrobe. The launcher you pick has as much to do with your sense of aesthetics, as the functionality they offer. More basic versions can totally change the look and feel of your phone, deliberately hiding the complexities of the operating system and focusing the user on the primary tasks they need to complete every day. More complex ones can be used to draw in widgets and other information presentations, providing more advanced users with easy access to the information they need every day.
Android users have a distinct advantage over iPhone users when it comes to software tools like this. There are literally hundreds of options of Android launchers, all of which can be easily downloaded to your phone from the Google Play store. iPhone users’ devices are ‘locked down’ – which means you’ll only be able to use their iOS operating system to launch your apps. Indeed, flexibility of this sort is one of the key reasons people buy Android rather than Apple phones.
Just as all the wardrobes in the world have a lot of similarities, so do all the launchers out there. There’s only so much you can do with a tray of apps on a home screen. That said, there are some differences out there if you start by thinking about the criteria that are important to you. We’ve focused on those differences below, so you can make your decision about which is right for you.
We’ve cracked down the best Launcher apps for each user type, below. To speed up your time to launch, we’ve included three user types, the basic for a minimalist approach to upgrading Android’s native capabilities, the best customization launcher for those who want to make the most of the reason they bought an Android device in the first place – it’s customizability and finally, the fastest Android launcher out there.
Best simple launcher for Android: Wiser
Wiser is the best launcher facility for new users and those who only want to do the most common tasks on their phones – and don’t want to have to worry about where to find the functions that they need. It is an ideal Android launcher for the elderly users or those who don’t care about tech.
Best Customization / Theming Launcher for Android: AIO Launcher
The other end of the spectrum, for advanced users, is AIO Launcher. If you have the time and the inclination to configure every component of every system you have, AIO might be right for you. AIO learns your most used apps and shows them to you on the home screen, tells you the calls you’ve received and missed, warns you about upcoming events and, essentially gives you everything useful in one place. The only downside is that you need to be able to deal with the sort of information overload you’d get if you were overseeing a NASA probe launch.
Best Android launcher for speed: Evie Launcher
There’s no point in having the latest phone and the fastest processor and then tying everything up with a vast launcher app which slows everything down. If you want blindingly fast, nothing you don’t need and efficiency is your watchword, get yourself the Evie Launcher. The Evie gives a neat and clean skin to your device, it has a search function for you to find the apps on the homepage, and it allows you to view the installed apps on your Android with a swipe. Apps are shown in list and grid mode. Evie has the best reviews of any of the launchers we tested for this article receiving a 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store. That’s no mean feat, given how tight the crowd is.
Google Play store offers countless launcher alternative apps to the one coming with your phone. You can find them by visiting the Play Store. Also, major mobile manufacturers ship their handsets with custom designs and skins, Samsung phones have the TouchWiz interface, Huawei has EMUI, Xiaomi packs MIUI, LG sports UX, and so on, even Google phones have their own Pixel UI launcher.
The manufacturer launchers are excluded from this listing. The good news is that if you decide to change your phone because do not like what that particular brand is bringing with the handsets or someone else is producing better phones but you don’t want to change UI, chances are that you’ll find almost every skin provided by phone manufacturers on the Play Store. Another bright side of publicly available skins is that you can also make your cheap China phone to look like a Samsung Galaxy S9.