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Android launchers: how to install, modify and customize your phone
This page was translated using AI and machine learning.
(Pocket-lint) – Ask any Android fan at any time in the last 10 years what they love about Android, and chances are customization will be a big part of the answer. Rather than having a fairly rigid user interface like iOS on the iPhone, Android has long been lauded for its ability to change how it looks and behaves.
Much of this customization is with Android launchers on the Play Store. However, over the past few years we’ve seen manufacturers add many more customization choices directly into their own software. And that continues with Android 12, which saw a big change in design and customization.
Launchers still have their raison d’être. Choose the right one and you can use all sorts of settings. From creating completely custom widgets that look and act the way you want, to changing the size and style of app icons.
How to Choose an Android Launcher
Before choosing a launcher, it’s worth thinking about what you want from your Android phone. If you have a device from a Chinese manufacturer like Oppo or Xiaomi – or a thick-skinned device like one from Samsung – and just want a more stock Android-like experience, the best launcher to download is probably the Launcher New.
The Nova launcher brings a visual experience that is much more like the look and feel of standard Android. As well as offering a look that by default looks a lot like the Pixel, it also provides control over every element of your phone’s software experience.
It’s both a free version and a premium version, the latter gives you a lot more options and is definitely worth it if you just want your phone to look the way you want.
Nova Launcher lets you manually change the size of your home screen icons, as well as install custom icon packs so you can change their appearance as well. You can choose how many rows and columns of apps you want on the home screen and in your app drawer, and even fine-tune how the Google search bar appears. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In fact, Nova Launcher is so in-depth that it could probably have its own explainer and tutorial feature, so we’ll leave that there for now. Suffice to say, if you like to game and customize, few offer the granular options included in Nova Launcher.
Download Android Launcher
The first step to installing a new launcher is exactly the same as downloading an app. Just go to the Play Store and search for the launcher by name (list of suggestions at the bottom of this article) or just type in “launcher”. We’ll use Nova Launcher as an example in this guide, but the same process applies to all.
Once you’ve found the launcher you want to download and installed it, the next step is to set it up. Most Android launchers have a setup guide included to help you get started quickly, so just tap the launcher app icon, which should appear on your home screen or app tray.
When you tap the app icon – depending on the phone you’re using – you may see a pop-up message saying something like “Launcher X is currently set to default, go to settings to try [nouveau nom du lanceur]”. Once you’ve confirmed that you want to try it, the look of your home screen should completely change.
Often when this happens, you haven’t actually set the new default launcher, so it can be confusing to press the home button and switch back to your old launcher. What he can do. Your phone can either do this or give you a handy pop-up asking which launcher you want to use by default.
Change default Android launcher
Actually, setting the launcher as the default launcher is a process that varies a bit depending on your device. With some Android phones, you head to Settings > Home and then choose the launcher you want. With others, you head to Settings > Apps, then tap the settings cog icon in the top corner where you’ll then have options to change the default apps.
Others like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi make things a bit trickier…
- Samsung (Android 12) – Settings > Apps > Choose default apps > Home app
- Oppo & Realme (Android 11) – Settings > Application management > Default application > Home screen
- Xiaomi/Redmi/Poco (Android 11) – Settings > Home screen > Default launcher
- OnePlus (Android 11) – Settings > Apps & notifications > Default apps
Of course, if you have an older version of the software, the method may be slightly different. The quickest and easiest way is to go to the Settings app and search for “default app” in the search box, and you should find it.
After that ?
As we mentioned before, once the launcher is active on your phone, the appearance of the home screen changes. Your apps probably won’t be organized the way you had them before, so you’ll need to spend a few minutes (okay, maybe more than a few) placing your apps, creating folders, choosing a wallpaper, etc. .
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You can also access your launcher settings, to customize various aspects of it. With a lot of them you just have to long press on the home screen and there’s a settings bar right next to the usual wallpaper and widget options, you might even see an option of icon pack (depending on the launcher you are using).
What are Android launchers?
There are a number of decent launchers for Android, each offering something a little different from the others.
Nova Launcher – see on Play Store
Personalization at its best. You can change almost every aspect of your phone’s software experience.
Microsoft Launcher – see on Play Store
Very clean launcher that intelligently sorts your most used apps and frequently contacted people to make them easy to access. It also gives you individual home screens for your reminders/tasks, widgets, documents, and apps.
niagara launcher – see on Play Store
The Niagara launcher is similar in its premise: speed. He wants to help you get what you want as quickly as possible. No unnecessarily long animations or transitions. It is not overloaded with UI layers. Instead, you choose the important things and they’re all that appear on your home screen. It’s fast, clean and easy.
Action Launcher: Pixel Edition – see on play store
Like Nova Launcher, the Action Launcher gives you the ability to customize a number of user interface elements in the software. It may be more appealing for those with little patience to reconfigure their home screens, as it can import your existing app/home screen layout, rather than forcing you to start over.
Other launchers all offer the ability to customize the look of the phone’s theme and icons, and some even add custom gestures to launch specific functions.
Which is better depends entirely on what you need it to do. If you have the patience and want to try several different launchers, you have the freedom to do so. Most are free to download, some have “Prime” versions which are paid upgrades but offer more features.
Written by Cam Bunton. Edited by Chris Hall.