Best Free App Launcher for Android

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Introduction

You're here to learn about launchers on Android and how to customize the most basic functions of Android.  You are in luck as we are getting started on reviews of some of the launchers available.  As I discover more or additional choices are pointed out in comments I will work on expanding this section over time.  I will begin with written reviews and add screen shots as time allows.  One great thing about Android is that like the old Palm devices you can customize to your hearts content and the only thing holding you back is your imagination.  Not all the launchers fit the traditional home screen launcher most are used to.  I intend to track down some less traditional launchers to keep things interesting and also because they can be a great complement to your home launcher.  So lets begin the journey and get started.

 
Discussion

GO Launcher EXGO Launcher EX is one of the best app launchers with many settings and features for you to modify your home screens, handle and launch your apps in many ways you like on your Android mobile devices.

This app lets you add as many home screens as you need. You can pinch or slide up on a home screen to preview all your home screens. From there you can re-arrange your home screens, set a default home screen, remove or add more home screens. All these can be done in a user friendly interface.

Docked icons can be increased up to 15 and you can assign a shortcut to each of them. The app drawer shows you running, recent and all programs you have installed on your device. In the app drawer, you can close running programs, create folders, sort, re-arrange or uninstall the apps.

Apart from preference and other settings, you can also change the look of home screens with themes. Ability to add useful widgets which are designed for this app is a bonus.

 

Zeam LauncherZeam Launcher is a great lite weight launcher for Android that is great for slower or older Android devices while still working great if you have a newer faster device. I like that it consumes less memory and takes up less space than almost any other launcher I have looked at so far. The scrolling launch bar at the bottom allows you to put as many apps as you want at the bottom of the screen for quick access. It also plays nice with Apps Organizer for having your apps in folders on each home screen. I like that I can have 5 columns or rows with room to have more if wanted. Using more than this on a small screen device is probably not useful but on a tablet or larger screen phone it can make much better use of your space. Overall I consider Zeam to be one of the best app launchers available for Android devices.  It is not as flashy with themes and what not but what it does it does very well.  It works on 2.2 Froyo and up including ICS.

 

SwipePadSwipePad: Hyperspace Jump I just installed and configured this great secondary launcher that will allow you to launch apps while inside of any other app without the need to go to your main launcher.  In many ways this is similar to WaveLauncher except that it is free.  It does not have the fancy effects of Wave Launcher but it is more configurable and has some addons I have not looked at yet.  Overall I think this would be a fine addition to your toolbox to get the most out of Android.  It works well on low powered devices as well as newer faster devices.  Overall it is a great secondary launcher for your most needed apps.

 

FTL Launcher Lite I decided to try FTL next as it looked quite interesting from what I read.  While it is a nice launcher I expected more.  It is quite limited in customizabilty and feels more like a free advertisment for the real thing.  It's one feature unique from other lauchers is the 3D app drawer.  Unfortantely for me I spend very little time there as I use Apps Organizer to put my folders on the desktop with my apps there for quick easy access as seen above in the Zeam review.  Overall I would say it is a good launcher but not great.

The review was for the previous 2.x versions.  3.x is improved in features and has removed many of the limitations that brought some criticism.  In my opinion the 3.x version is much improved and you only pay for functions like theming.  Overall it is a much welcome improvement.

 

Apps Organizer I have been using Apps Organizer ever since I started on Android back in early 2011.  I love being able to organize my apps into catagories which I can place in the launcher as a folder.  It keeps things neat and tidy and I know exactly where to find my most needed apps.  You can see above in my Zeam screenshot what I mean.  I would not want to use Android without the folders on the launcher screen.

Nemus Launcher I started experimenting with this launcher today.  It seems very fast indeed and so far wins the speed crown.  However I have found some quirks when it comes to calendar widgets and cutting off the numbers on the left side.  I emailed the developer and am waiting to find out more.  It is limited to 5 home screens with no configuration of this.  You can have 3-5 rows and columns for your icons.  Overall it seems a solid launcher worth considering; in fact if it were not for the quirk it would take the crown as best in category.

Faster Drawer I just installed Faster Drawer to test and it is very simple in what it provides yet does it very well.  You could think of it as a replacement app drawer that is organized by first letter of the app name.  You can select the letter on the right side of the screen to be taken there.  You can also scroll through the apps like normal.  Overall it is useful and for some users the organization might make it a good fit.  For me Apps Organizer is a better fit but many will find this better as they don't have to take the time to organize their apps into categories.

I will be updating these reviews soon.  For now just afew little comments tied to things to come. 

Holo Launcher (2.2+) and Holo Launcher HD (4.0+) are two very good lauchers that support most of ICS features and beyond.  Both are very fast and nice while having little touches that make accessing the laucher very intuative.  They currently take the crown from Zeam as the best Android launcher.  That may change as I get back up to speed on these reviews.

 

 

More Launchers to be reviewed:

 

Android 4+ Launchers to be tested when I have a device available:

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Zeam Launcher
4
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast, Lite on Memory, Scrolling Launch Bar at bottom of screen, Highly Customizable
No support for Themes
http://zeam.org/
3.1.10
388 KB
Unrestricted freeware
Android 2.2+
GO Launcher EX
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Increase home screens as many as you need, home screens preview and organize, support for themes and widgets.
2.79
4.5 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Android 2.0+
SwipePad: Hyperspace Jump
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Quick and easy access to twelve of your most used apps anywhere, Speed
None
http://calciumion.com/swipepad/
0.9.3
539 KB
Unrestricted freeware
Android 2.1+
Apps Organizer
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easily organize your apps with labels which allows them to be placed as folders in your launcher of choice, compatibility with most if not all launchers
Seems a bit slow at times
1.5.19
623 KB
Unrestricted freeware
Android 1.5+
Nemus Launcher
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast, nice fast app drawer with custom sorting options
Limited number of home screens, problems with Calendar month view widgets getting cut off on left
http://nemustech.com/homepage/
1.6.2.2
1.7 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Android 2.1+
FTL Launcher Lite
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast, Lite on resources, unique app drawer with 3D effects
Some force closes
3.0
varies
Unrestricted freeware
Android 2.2+
Faster Drawer
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple and quick to use
No integration with standard launchers
0.34
56 KB
Unrestricted freeware
Android 2.1+

 
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Tags

best free app launcher for android, home screen replacement app, top free app launcher for android, android app launcher, android program launcher, quick launch android app.

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Comments

by K (not verified) on 18. February 2012 - 23:03  (89031)

Please...

ssLauncher
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.ss.launcher

by Kimm (not verified) on 18. February 2012 - 23:23  (89033)

Maybe,
How about...

SwipeStarter
https://market.android.com/details?id=tora.mamma.swipestart&feature=search_result

Home2Shortcut
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.eikatou0.appspot.home2shortcut&feature=search_result

Skyfish Swipe Launcher Free
https://market.android.com/details?id=net.trashfeed.skyfishfree&feature=search_result

Task Changer PRO
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.pacosal.taskchanger&feature=search_result

by leland.w on 19. February 2012 - 0:04  (89035)

Thanks for the suggestions. I will be sure to take a look at the launchers mentioned. Some of them look quite interesting from my quick look. Look for coming updates in the coming weeks. I just barely took the reigns here so it will be a bit before the section is fully fleshed out.

by Av_Crazy on 25. February 2012 - 2:05  (89420)

Adw launcher ex should be renamed to adw launcher because the ex version is the paid version

also see ftl launcher
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.lowveld.ftllauncherlite&featur...

And espier launcher
https://market.android.com/details?id=mobi.espier.launcher&feature=searc....

by leland.w on 27. February 2012 - 5:52  (89559)

Thanks Av_Crazy, I had not looked at ADW yet and that link was a leftover from the stub they created. I am still trying to get everything ship shape as I move forward with reviews. Thanks for the suggestions; FTL looks especially interesting. It will be interesting to see how it looks on my qHD screen as some complained in the market about some issues on these types of screens. The good part is I have two devices to compare on. I will add them to the list. Thanks for the suggestions.

by Ky (not verified) on 9. March 2012 - 6:59  (90120)

Please add

Faster Drawer

by leland.w on 9. March 2012 - 8:19  (90126)

I'm reading about Faster Drawer now. It seems to have some potential as a supplement to your launcher which is an area I plan to cover. I will add it to the list and get to it as time allows. Thanks.

by Av_Crazy on 22. March 2012 - 12:41  (90974)

Two great customizable launchers for 4.0 and above

Apex launcher
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.anddoes.launcher&featu...

Nova launcher
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.teslacoilsw.launcher&f...

Really loving apex launcher , even stopped using go launcher in its favour

by leland.w on 2. May 2012 - 22:02  (92931)

Hi AV_Crazy. Sorry for the late response. I see those launchers are for ICS based devices. Unfortunately my device is Gingerbread based for now. I will put them on a list of Android 4+ launchers to test at a future date. If anyone has a 4.0 device and would like to work with me on getting up a review I am open to that too. Thanks.

by leland.w on 2. May 2012 - 22:10  (92932)

Hi everyone. Looking at the list I think Nemus Launcher looks like the next candidate for review. Please keep the suggestions coming keeping in mind any launchers requiring ICS will have to wait until I have a newer device or CM9 makes it to my device. Thanks.

by RandyN on 20. May 2012 - 13:51  (93740)

Both are great ICS launchers but for me Nova runs better. They are very similar since they are based upon the built-in ICS launcher.

by PRG (not verified) on 5. August 2012 - 17:49  (97243)

I have found 007Phone do much more magical work than any of the launchers mentioned above. You need apps that are quite and keep doing their job. One such app is timeriffic, I just these two when it comes to making things faster and seamless for me.

by Lev! (not verified) on 24. September 2012 - 15:52  (99695)

HOLO Launcher is the best, it has lots of features but with less memory prints. I've replaced my old launcher on my X10 mini for these.

by Krystina (not verified) on 26. October 2012 - 15:59  (101392)

Looking for co-op bank app.

by dalimit on 10. January 2013 - 19:44  (104395)
by leland.w on 2. June 2013 - 21:11  (108227)

360 Launcher is now on the list for testing. I will do my best to get it tested once I finish my Holo Launcher and Holo Launcher HD reviews. And please everyone keep suggestions coming for other launchers. Thanks.

by gzmhanu on 6. October 2013 - 20:11  (111281)

I found a link for best android launchers 2013, Nice one:
Best Android Launchers 2013

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