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5 launcher apps to give your Android phone a fresh new look

Florence Ion | Sept. 23, 2013
You don't need a new phone—you just need a phone makeover.

Android phones

There are many faces of Android: There's the stock version offered by Google that's stylized in Google's own vision, and there's the version that your manufacturer would rather have you use. When it comes to interfaces we wish we could change, the latter version is usually the one causing headaches.

It'a a matter of taste, but the interface that your Android phone comes saddled with may not always be the most appealing, and that's why there are myriad launcher apps available in the Google Play store. These apps customize the way the interface looks and operates, and even streamline animations as you pan between screens.

How to enable a launcher
Once you install an application launcher, you'll have to remember to make it the default home screen. When you go to your home screen, Android will prompt you about which launcher you wish to use, so be sure to select the new launcher you've installed and tap Always, unless you want to be prompted every time you go to the home screen. If you get sick of your new interface, you can always reset your defaults in the settings menu.

Nova Launcher
Nova Launcher is a longtime favorite of Android users, and for good reason: It's extremely customizable and it doesn't veer too far from the Android experience you've grown accustomed to.

Its settings menu may appear overwhelming at first, but once you spend some time perusing your options, you'll discover that you can do things like set the style of the Google search bar, set the space between margins, and enlarge or shrink all system icons. You can even set how you want folders to look and whether you want to switch to Google's stock icons or stay with the ones your phone maker has provided you with. For many of the options, you can choose which version of Android to emulate, which can come in very handy if you have an older phone that won't get updated to the latest version of Android anytime soon.

You'll have to upgrade to the $4 Nova Launcher Prime if you want to unlock a few other of its customizable features, including dock swipes, gestures, and the ability to hide apps that you hardly use. Nova Launcher works only on Android 4.0 and later.

Smart Launcher
Smart Launcher starts off by asking you to select your app preferences, like which browser you prefer and what music app you usually listen to, and then it pops up an entirely new home screen with a menu bar on the left-hand side.

 

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