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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.

It isn't the most appealing interface, nor is it very intuitive. I didn't like the way it organized my apps at first, and if you're using a manufacturer-provided overlay, like Samsung's TouchWiz UI or LG's Optimus UI, the interface will look crowded. Smart Launcher's sidebar looks a bit nicer on a tablet interface.

The app also offers gesture support, downloadable theme packs, and various customization options for the interface, including the ability to install plug-ins, though the only available plug-ins I could find were in the Google Play store. You can also install custom icon packs, though they can look mismatched among the non-stock apps also hanging out on the Home screen. If you decide that you want to stick with Smart Launcher, you can shell out $4 for the Pro version to get a secondary panel for widgets, more transitions, more colors to personalize the home screen, and multi-touch gestures.

Go Launcher EX
Theme junkies, Go Launcher EX features thousands of themes for personalizing your interface, though it requires a bit of tweaking before you can get it to function to your liking. You'll also have to individually delete a few pages of trial apps and widgets that it bundles with the download, but from there it's an easy process: Go into the settings, select Themes, and choose something from Go Launcher's vast library.

This app also features a number of downloadable plug-ins, like a custom-lock-screen app, a file manager, and its own official UI 3.0 theme. Also included are options to enhance things like the flipping speed and transition effects,enable infinite scrolling, and fit icons to the screen. Sometimes it felt like Go Launcher packed in too much choice, however, so you'll need some time to peruse the various options. Bear in mind that the app also features one of the largest user communities, many of whom are constantly submitting new wallpapers and themes.

Go Launcher EX is ad-supported, but you can unlock the app, as well as a number of extra features, with an in-app purchase of $6.

Apex Launcher
Like Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher is a fairly straightforward application, and it offers plenty of options for altering the overall look of your Android interface without detracting from the experience you're used to. There are also themes available, should you choose to go that route, or you can leave your interface as is and instead alter things such as the transitional effects between screens or the size of your app icons. With Apex Launcher, you can also hide the icons of apps you never use and resize widgets that are not normally resizable.

If you upgrade to the $4 Apex Launcher Pro, you can unlock the ability to add tabs and folders to your application drawer, change dock swipe options, and enable the ability to allow widgets to overlap, among other thingss.


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