Best Android Launchers 2018: 10 Years after Android was Launched
What Android launcher is the best in 2018? If you haven’t tried new ones for long (or settled down with the one you found some years ago), maybe, it’s time to review your choice? And if you never bothered, there’s a chance to learn something new and get more from your device. Launcher is the method! Keep reading to learn more.
What a Launcher Is
Sometimes it’s called “user interface”, and it’s true. What we call “launcher” is all we see about Android, all we interact with it through. Your home screens, apps lists, callers and menus, launch docks and lock screens – they all form a launcher. That is anything that can be changed in.
And (because of Android modular structure) this part of the system can be separated from it and replaced by its analogue. That’s why launchers are changeable. And even more: they can be installed or uninstalled like regular apps they in fact are.
No wonder that third-party launchers have gained significant popularity since Android was released at all. Among all the variety of user interfaces, we have selected the best (as we think).
When you install any of these and set it as default, the original system launcher is not deleted. However, the system just doesn’t start it (unless some unexpected error happens to the one you use). That’s the way the substitute replaces the original and uncovers its advantage.
The Magnificent 8
The top list of launchers hasn’t changed much in 2018 compared to 2017. All the major inventions have been made, or so it seems. Before the new revolution happens (a new OS, a new smartphone form factor or brand new interface), the principles are the same. And that’s who has mastered them best.
In this Top 8, we didn’t even review proprietary launchers developed by smartphone or tablet vendors. There are only real third-party ones, available for most Android devices.
As they all have some great feature to offer, we didn’t sort them within Top 8 by any other order but alphabetical.
ADW Launcher 2
Being quite stable and easy (that is, what any launcher should offer), ADW is – first of all – customizable. It has a huge variety of options: fonts, icons, animations, app drawers and all the stuff. Built-in tools help users to create their own widgets or use existing ones. And, a chameleon of launchers, it can adjust its theme colors to the color that prevails in the background image.
You may prefer it emotionally, because its developers obviously adore old time movies, from Star Trek and Back to the Future down to Casablanca, and they quote them as they address to the user. If this is your language, you may be pleased that ADW speaks it too.
One of the oldest launchers around, it seems the fastest. Outrunning any preinstalled stock one, it’s completely clean of bloatware and effective at using CPU and GPU power. Even if you set it up as you like, it remains quick and instant at any action. It also has a built-in backup tool and a scrollable dock for the apps you use the most.
Apex also offers a paid Pro version that is even faster (if you can imagine that). In fact, it is, and it offers even more options and more gesture controls. It also reveals the true power of Apex Notifier, the notifying app that collects all your alerts in one place.
What Buzz Launcher is about first of all is its visual variety. It’s for those who want their smartphones looking new and surprising every day. So the first thing you see after you install it is the selection of the most popular themes. Select and apply one to see how it works!
The Buzz Menu (scroll two fingers down to activate) can be studied for hours. And when you apply the selected settings to a new theme, it looks surprising. If you want your phone to look brilliant, if you see it as a dynamic art object that should change, or if you just like to color up your life, Buzz is the thing.
And it even offers a constructor tool for creating your own informer widgets, so you can customize its features as easily as its appearance.
While Buzz is all about looks, it offers you themes to select. EverythingMe after installation wants to access your apps to organize them. So allow it. And in seconds you’ll have your desktop customized. Your apps sorted, your news feed updated (swipe right), your quick access contacts available (swipe right again).
The dock below contains the most important apps (like email and calendar), and the desktop also displays folders for your media content, by a deeply integrated file manager.
Its visuals are not as stunning as in Buzz, and it’s not so highly customizable as ADW, but if for you the order is above all, this launcher will keep it all in order.
This launcher with a little Pokémonish name has a mascot – an animal, probably a kind of fox. Though this fox doesn’t jump over any dog, and it’s not even brown, it is quick. To make transfer easier, it can import all of your home screen layouts from the previous launcher you used. But, as insolent as a fox can be, it will require a default status right from the start. And you better agree!
Some other features are worth highlighting too; like Universal Search that scans all your apps to find your request, creating custom shortcuts for actions (like calling or texting someone), or wider context menu for apps available by long tap.
If your phone has been serving you for two or three years and seems to have lost its former swiftness, Evie can really cheer it up. So give it a try.
It’s logical to guess that the main feature of Microsoft Launcher is its interaction with a Windows PC. Yes, it’s true. As you install Microsoft Launcher, you can connect it to your MS account, so it connects to your PC through a cloud. That means you can open content from your smartphone on a PC. Photos, documents, web pages and so on can be processed both on your mobile device and on your PC. Anyway, this integration, in spite of its limitation, is much better than Continuum that required (pardon our French) Windows Phone.
In other ways it’s just a good launcher with its own news feed, changeable background images provided by Bing, starred contacts section, and a dock for frequently launched apps. You can also set up widgets, icons, live wallpapers and anything else that Android supports. And if you use other apps by Microsoft (e.g., Outlook, they integrate with the launcher seamlessly.
We had forgotten that the name used to be Arrow Launcher before MS acquired it; but who cares in 2018? It matters much more than Microsoft offers all the features in the free version, saving nothing for premium.
As Android was young and little did it know, the motto for millions was “Better living through Nova”. It could do a lot of things the default launcher couldn’t, and it still can.
Customize your home screen view with custom icon packs available through Google Play or launcher itself. Enjoy rearranging apps list, so that the most frequently used ones are always on top. Control your Android with gestures, so you don’t need those screen buttons. See your smartphone work faster and smoother.
Nova (just like Apex) offers us the paid Pro version alongside the free one. We’d recommend trying the free one first; it lacks a lot of features from Pro, but delivers the same smooth experience and lets you feel why Nova has been so popular throughout a decade.
Smart Launcher 5
Are there non-smart launchers around? This name obliges a lot, and the developers catch up with this obligation, claiming they use special AI algorithms to do the job. So there’s a good set of features in it. The launcher sorts apps by usage frequency, offers a smart search bar through which you can access both local and web content, rolls out its own weather widget with a clock that fits the best into its scheme.
The adaptive features of Smart Launcher include one-handed control, immersive full-screen mode, customizable gestures and shortcuts. It’s smart enough to understand your way of command, whatever it may be. Unlike Apex, it doesn’t need a special notifier module to show all notifications so you can see them.
And yes, it’s beautiful as well. It also adapts its color scheme to the colors prevailing in your background picture, adding harmony to total impression. The built-in online wallpaper selector provides the final reason to try it.
Third Party Launchers Go Ahead
The situation in 2018 is quite different from 2008. (By the way, if you’re an Android fan, don’t forget about a cup of 10-year-old whiskey or XO cognac on September 23rd to celebrate the green man’s first jubilee!)
The main difference is that virtually any vendor has developed its own launcher for Android, usually with a set of branded apps. That’s why Google had to launch the Android One project, offering the original, unmodified OS. But all these launchers may have some drawbacks. Some of them are overloaded and slow down the device. Others may contain malware (this goes out to C-brands from China mostly).
Third party launchers are neutral and equally compatible with all vendors, as their requirements include certain Android version first of all. They contain no malware or bloatware. And most of them are designed to surpass the default, and (as we see) at least some of them succeed.
Three! Two! One! Launch!
So do you want to check whether your phone will come alive again with a launcher? Or have you already? Which is the best to your mind? What feature is the most important, and what launcher offers the best version of it?
Have we missed a launcher worth mentioning? Or have any of those above got worse with the years? If you have something to add, let’s talk of it.