Launcher Apps 101: Everything You Need to Know About Android Launchers

Android launchers allow users to customize their phones to boast their personalities and boost their productivity. But what are launcher apps, exactly?

What is a launcher app?

The Apollo 11 guidance computer used for the 1969 moon landing had a processing speed of about 0.043MHz. The average Android phone? It generally has a processing speed of at least 1,500 MHz. 

Simply put: The phone in your pocket has about 35,000 times the processing power of the computer that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

But are you taking advantage of the full power of your phone? And if not, how should you start? 

The answer lies in launcher apps. Also known as home screen apps or simply “launchers,” launcher apps are downloadable apps that allow users to customize the look, layout and function of their phones to create a personalized smartphone experience.

Ok, So what do they do?

When you boot up your new phone for the first time, your home screen is preloaded with the default Android launcher. Your icons, app drawer, and functionality are all the “stock” Android setup — the same for you as they are for everyone else.

But you’re not everyone else. Maybe you want to prioritize email efficiency. Or security. Or maybe you have a soft spot for retro designs and you want your app icons, widgets, and notifications to reflect that.

Turning your phone into a tailored extension of who you are is as simple as installing a third-party home screen app. Home screen apps safely and easily alter your phone’s software, integrating your aesthetic, productivity, and security preferences directly into your phone.

Alter my software? Is that safe?

Yep. Third-party launcher apps are safe, legal, and easy to install from the Google Play Store. When you download a third-party launcher, it tweaks your phone’s software to give you more control over its function and home screen layout. But nothing is permanent. You can uninstall a launcher app at any time to go back to the default Android setup.

Using a customizable home screen app is the easiest and safest way to get your phone to reflect who you are and where you’re going in life. Other methods of customizing smartphones include “jailbreaking” (a term often used for iOS devices) or “rooting” (a term used for Android devices).

Unlike home screen apps, however, jailbreaking and rooting can be risky. Rooting allows users to customize their phones by installing custom ROMs, but the process can be complicated and carries the danger of bricking your phone and/or voiding your warranty.

For safe, easy, above-board smartphone customization, home screen apps offer non-permanent but highly personalized options for your Android interface.

What are the different types of home screen apps?

Most launchers are either categorized as design launchers or smart launchers. Let’s break down a few features of each.

Design launchers:

  • Effects: Design launcher apps offer features like 3D animation, infinite scrolling, and immersive and interactive particle effects to make your smartphone interactions more engaging.
  • Gestures: Intuitive features like swiping, double-tapping or pinching your screen can be customized to launch specific apps or perform unique actions on your phone.
  • Icons and widgets: Custom app icon packs and widgets offer aesthetically pleasing designs to fit your style and layout preferences. Design launchers often offer both pre-made icon packs or create-your-own custom graphics to install themes like vintage, minimalist, gradient and more.
  • Themes: Design-oriented Android launchers give you the option to choose different fonts and wallpapers, featuring your favorite colors, shapes or even sports teams.

Smart launchers:

  • Optimized performance: Some smart launchers have built-in features to help speed up your phone’s capabilities and protect your battery life — perks like power-saving mode, junk storage cleaning and memory management.
  • Organization: Smart launchers can help you streamline your phone, organizing apps by categories like social media, productivity or fitness, making it easier and faster to locate and launch apps.
  • Productivity: Smart home screen apps get better the more you use them. Through adaptive learning, smart launchers put the information and apps you need front and center, saving you from having to swipe through your phone to find what you need.
  • Security: Many smart Android launchers have iron-clad security features, like shielding your phone from malware, adding extra protection on important apps and securing your WiFi connection.
  • Smarter search: Advanced search features from launcher apps allow you to find apps, photos and other content quickly on your device. Many Android launchers will also use predictive search features to suggest results based on your usage patterns.

While design launchers are primarily used to alter a phone’s appearance, you can still experience productivity increases by customizing your design to be more efficient and less cluttered.

How do I choose the launcher that’s right for me?

With dozens of launchers to choose from, picking the best one for your productivity needs and style preferences can be daunting.

Here are a few easy steps to narrow down your ideal home screen app:

  • Determine the type of launcher you want. Are you interested in a smart launcher or a design launcher? Or a little of both? Do you want to prioritize email efficiency, or do you prefer a lightweight launcher that specializes in speed? Ask yourself where you want your phone to improve to trim your list of home screen app options.
  • Read Google Play Store reviews. Who can tell you what to expect better than the launcher’s current users? Comb the Google Play Store and other online forums to get a sense of the pros and cons of the home screen apps you’re considering.
  • Take them for a test drive. Since launcher apps aren’t permanent, you’re never locked into the one you choose. If you’re stuck between a few different options, try each out for a week to determine which option you like best. Keep in mind most launchers are free, but some may require payment to unlock the full suite of features.

Take your productivity to the moon

The bottom line: If you want to maximize your phone’s productivity and aesthetic potential, a home screen app is a clear step in the right direction. By letting you customize key features of your phone, home screen apps allow you to dictate what’s useful instead of letting Android decide for you.

With hundreds of millions of downloads across multiple launchers, home screen apps are popular, safe, and supported by Android and its community. You’re never stuck and can always revert to the default Android launcher or try out a new option in just a couple of quick clicks if you’re not satisfied with your current launcher.

So whether you’re an always-on-the-go productivity machine or a one-of-a-kind style-fluid free spirit, Android launchers offer a new smartphone experience — designed for just you.


Latest News

Careers & Company
Understanding Home Screen Apps: 8 FAQs
Careers & Company
ReachMobi Earns a Spot on the Acclaimed Inc. 5000 List, Along with Great Place to Work Certification
Careers & Company
6 Ways to Maximize Downloads of Your New Mobile App
Shopping Basket